BIG RAPIDS -- Steve Sharp is the hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator for the National Wildlife Turkey Federation and gave an updated report on Jan. 18 at the state convention.

The convention was at the Holiday Inn, Big Rapids.

His title speaks for itself. Sharp is trying to retain those hunters who are still active and recruit new ones.

He's focusing on all hunters, not just turkey hunters.

"Hunters that are out there right now are aging out of the sport and we're not replacing a lot of them." Sharp said. "I try to recruit more hunters by doing mentored hunts and shooting events that try to recruit more hunters. We're doing this for all hunters. Turkey hunters is on a decline, not as steep as deer hunters right now. But it's still on a decline.

"The main reason is places to hunt and having more lands to hunt on and places to go. Another reason (for the decline in numbers) is people don't have anyone to take them out and teach them how. We're lacking in people willing to share that."

In his report "the thing I talk about is some of our accomplishments," Sharp said. "We have our save the habitat, save the hunt program creating 4.5 million acres of habitat, and recruiting 1.5 million hunters. In that 10-year initiative, we're in our eighth year of that. We have already accomplished our 1.5 million new hunters recruited nationwide. But we have a lot more to go. We have to recruit more."

The NWTF has had hunter shooting events around the state.

"Since 2012, we've created 26,000 new shooters and close to 5,000 new hunters," Sharp said.