My name is John Radzwilla and I am an endangered species.
For years, I have watched as conservation groups conserve everything from fish to endangered species – all very noble causes and efforts to be honored and respected. But there is one type of animal: one swath of a species; one demographic of creature that has been overlooked — the young professional.
I grew up as many young men do in a semi-suburban town. I wasn’t rich, but I wasn’t poor. My father passed away when I was 7 so for all intents and purposes I grew up without a dad. I grew up around the outdoors, but never hunted and rarely fished. I went to college, moved to a city, and began my life. I was headed down the unfortunate path 90 percent of young middle-class Americans take. So what saved me and relocated me back to the wild?
It was the interest and motivation to sift through immense amounts of internet information, countless hours of research, too many failures and the willingness to learn from them, and friends along the way to rub it in. How many young people would take that amount time and effort to grow into an avid outdoorsman? How many even know where to start or what resources to look for? Not many.
We can save all the endangered animals we want, but with out actually conserving the young outdoorsman and growing that population, who will carry on the legacy of the outdoorsman who came before? Generations of work got us this far, what’s the strategy to keep it going and ensure the work of prior generation’s is not wasted? Let me pose one simple question: Why are the gun ranges alive with eager young men and women lobbing rounds down range at lifeless paper but nature is still struggling to attract this same demographic?
The answer, in my opinion, is not complicated. There are many factors that surround the problem, but if you can consolidate it into two simple ideas, we can take steps in the right direction. These two ideas consist of: portraying a modern version of the outdoorsman lifestyle to attract the young professional and lowering the barriers of entry both financially and educationally. We need to convert from the weekend warrior to avid hunters and fisherman. So what does this mean?
First, hunting and fishing are more than sports – they are a lifestyle. This needs to be understood; this is the key for attracting the “Young Professional”. It is painting the picture of the great outdoors as it applies to the modern outdoorsman. That lifestyle can be illustrated by the clothes that we wear, the vehicles we drive, the drinks that we drink, the places we travel to, the gear that we own, and ultimately the hunts that we participate in. These factors by themselves are fragmented and generally looked at on an individual basis, but when grouped together become the DNA of the lifestyle.
Next, is lowering the barriers to entry on two fronts. Primarily, this is an education issue. With so many young professionals growing up without a mentor in the outdoors world, how can we ever expect any of them to know where to even begin? To further complicate the issue, the majority of the demographic that would be interested in hunting and fishing are men. Therein lies a major problem: our egos get in the way of asking the stupid questions. We need to create an educational resource for young professionals to learn from. This could range from simple things like what camouflage to wear to more specific skillsets like field dressing a harvested animal.
Secondarily, we need to recognize the financial barrier to entry. There are many basic budget friendly options, but without a deeper knowledge of the sport, the novice only knows the perception he or she has. There are many great ways to get involved at a low cost – take dove hunting or bass fishing for example.
So what is the solution?
Please let me introduce you to Hook & Barrel: A Modern Outdoorsman’s Lifestyle Guide.
Hook & Barrel is not just a magazine – it is a movement. Our mission is to equip our readers educationally in outdoor skills, trends, and culture, while re-introducing you to the wild. We want to motivate newcomers, the weekend warriors, and those sitting on the sidelines to unplug and live life outdoors.
Every issue will feature the latest trends and styles, celebrity interviews, cool must-have gear and lifestyle accessories, reviews and educational tools, food and drink recipes, music spotlights, travel destinations, and low cost options for adventure hunting and fishing.
I’d personally like to extend a warm welcome and long over due high-five. Welcome to the Hook & Barrel family. Now, get outside and play.