Recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) programs and opportunities have been recently implemented to reverse trends in declining hunting participation. Some of these programs use mentors to replicate traditional pathways into hunting, but few data are available that examine the mentor-mentee relationship. We surveyed waterfowl hunters and non-waterfowl 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. Non-waterfowl 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 non-waterfowl hunters not wishing to be mentored. Our results indicate that R3 programs that do not consider or incorporate a close, social connection between mentees and mentors may not be as successful as those that do.

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