“Without frequent contact, most mentored hunts end up being just guided trips.”
That’s the downbeat assessment of one of my friends and partners in what’s slowly emerging as a national movement to introduce more beginning hunters to the outdoors and the world of self-sufficient foraging.
She’s both right and correct. She’s right in the sense that many of us who extend a hand to a beginner base the experience around an outing – a hunt. We hope to be successful, in order to set the hook. It’s important to be successful – few people want to spend uncomfortable hours or days in the company of a new companion only to return home empty-handed. So we mentors stack the decks in favor of success.
To an outsider, that can look like a guided trip, in which the apprentice shows up and expects all the details and gear to be taken care of by their mentor and in which the “guide” expects the “client” to be both naïve and grateful, their fulfillment taking the place of a monetary tip.
And she’s correct in the sense that we can’t expect to create a hunter with this sort of one-and-done, transactional approach. It might work occasionally and with some pairs. But the real staying power of any relationship is the frequency of interactions, not just the quality of them.
It’s important for the mentor to check in following the hunt, maybe inquiring about how the gotten game tastes, or how the apprentice is preparing it for their loved ones. It’s important to share gear, or make recommendations for appropriate boots or a pack or a gun and caliber. And it’s important, as I learned this year, to re-invite your apprentice for another outing. Hopefully this time, it’s as peers instead of a teacher and a student.
Or instead of a guide and a client.