Recruitment, retention, and reactivation programs are a nationwide movement focusing on strategically increasing and diversifying participation in and support for shooting sports, hunting, and angling. Efforts focused on increasing hunting participation may use mentors to replicate traditional pathways into hunting, but few data are available that examine the mentor–mentee relationship. We surveyed waterfowl hunters and nonwaterfowl hunters in several Midwestern states to identify through a series of questions whether mentors would likely accept certain types of mentees for waterfowl hunting and whether mentees would likely accept certain types of mentors for waterfowl hunting. We found that waterfowl hunters were willing to accept most mentee types except for hunters they had not met previously. The most frequently reported reason for unwillingness to mentor was a perceived lack of skill by the waterfowl hunter. Nonwaterfowl hunters were most likely to accept mentoring by a family member or friend. Feelings of being uncomfortable and desire to focus on other activities were the most frequently reported reasons for nonwaterfowl hunters not wishing to be mentored. Our results indicate that efforts or programs directed at increasing hunter participation need to consider or incorporate a close social connection between mentees and mentors to be more effective.

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Author notes

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Present address of M.P. Vrtiska: School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583

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