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AZGFD celebrates 10 years of partnership with outdoor groups to boost participation in hunting, wildlife conservation

Posted July 2, 2019

July 13-14 gathering in Flagstaff will focus on expanding recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department will mark the 10th anniversary of an innovative partnership with sportsmen’s/conservation organizations working to reverse a long-term decline in hunting participation.

The Hunting and Angling Heritage Workgroup (HAHWG) and the Outdoor Skills Network (OSN) is a unique collaboration of more than 60 organizations that has hosted nearly 500 public events geared toward the recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of hunters and anglers since 2009. In fact, Arizona’s R3 program is the largest in the nation.

The majority of the events offer hands-on, mentored, in-field hunting experiences. There is an emphasis on teaching hunting skills to beginners, as well as educating them about fair chase, wildlife management / conservation, and how they can enjoy their harvested game meat.

The HAHWG has come a long way since it first formed in 2009, when it was just an internal agency effort, hosting a half dozen events.

The top 10 accomplishments of the partnership since 2009 are:

  1. 495 public events conducted / 60+ partners
  2. 8,000+ primary participants / 16,000+ attendees reached
  3. 20 R3 partner workshops conducted (two per year)
  4. Developed Action Plan / Toolkit: includes information such as an action plan, best practices, event standards, event types by skill level, resources and more
  5. Centralized calendar of events with single branding and promotion since inception
  6. Participant data collection since 2011
  7. Online event registration since 2016
  8. Program evaluation: a body of works, including data analysis of participants; focus group study of participants; survey of partners; and focus group study on mentoring, done by a nationally recognized research firm
  9. Contracted an R3 coordinator because of successful program growth and opportunities (2018)
  10. Statewide mentor recruitment initiative: First-ever “Become a Hunting Mentor Trivia & Pint Night,” mentor database, mentoring events, communication and outreach (2018)

“Arizona is blessed and indebted to the many partners of the HAHWG. Their tireless efforts for all these years have resulted in thousands of citizens being introduced—safely, ethically, and responsibly—to hunting and fishing in Arizona,” said Doug Burt, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s hunting/shooting sports and R3 program manager. “It is only through collaborative partnerships that any state can achieve such scale; no one entity can do it all.”

To mark the 10-year milestone and continue the collaboration, the group will gather July 13-14 at the Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff, 16848 U.S. 180, with a focus on improving and expanding on its success. Enthusiasts of hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation are invited to attend. There is no cost for the two-day event, but an RSVP is requested for planning purposes. To RSVP and get more details, visit:

“We’ve had great participation in this collaboration, but many of our volunteers have been carrying the load for the entire 10 years,” said Burt. “We need fresh faces to mentor young hunters and novices, and we need more partners to grow the HAHWG to keep hunting relevant and engage the public with these outdoor lifestyle activities.”

Burt added that it’s easy to get involved.

“The only thing it takes to be a part of the HAHWG / OSN is just showing up – so come to Flagstaff and be a part of something great. You will not be disappointed,” he said.

The HAHWG / OSN is the largest and longest-running statewide R3 program in the nation. It has the data to support that the model (1) Recruits new people (families, adults, and kids) to hunting, and (2) Retains newly recruited hunters. There are also ample indications that the program is reactivating lapsed hunters, and past participants are becoming mentors and advocates.

“The HAHWG addresses all the areas of the Hunter Adoption Sequence Model,” said Burt. “We’re looking forward to continue building on our successes.”

To learn more about the Hunting and Angling Heritage Workgroup, the Outdoor Skills Network, and to access a schedule of dozens of public events, visit: