Upland Jitsu

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Jorge Ramirez blends his passions for quail hunting, inclusion, and mentorship

By Marissa Jensen

Blogs, how-to guides, social media; the world is at our fingertips to choose a path and follow. This rise in technology has allowed for incredible opportunities for those who love to learn, and those who love to teach. This new world of outdoor communications has changed over the years, bringing with it a younger, social media-savvy group of bird hunters who are leading a new wave of spreading their love of upland hunting.

Our story begins with one such renaissance man, who is passionate about the uplands, wanting to share this love and guidance with others. Enter California native Jorge Ramirez; a father, mentor, social media guru, and of course, a passionate bird hunter.

In 2017, the blog Upland-Jitsu: The Art of Upland Hunting emerged into the world of bird hunters, with the overarching goal to provide insightful and inspiring tutorials for those who were interested in getting involved.

The term “jitsu” translates to “the art of” or “the technique of” in Japanese, as Jorge created a brand that spoke to his many passions; martial arts, art, and upland hunting. Upland-Jitsu: The Art of Upland Hunting, focuses on the art and traditions of upland hunting with an emphasis on wild birds, conservation, and public land access advocacy.

Ramirez’s story began with an introduction to deer hunting with his father at a young age, however, he wouldn’t find his love for bird hunting until later in his adolescent years. The birds really began to take over for Ramirez as he entered adulthood.

“The allure of shotguns, particularly side-by-sides was big for me getting started,” says Ramirez. “I saved up all my pennies and got a junky side-by-side. I moved to Arizona for a few years where I got serious about hunting birds and the uplands in general. From there it snowballed for me.”

But finding his path to the uplands wasn’t always easy for Ramirez, as he struggled to find a mentor.
“Initially it was really challenging, my first drive was to get into wild birds. I reached out to a few people in our local community, as well as forums on the internet looking for mentorship opportunities. There just wasn’t anyone there for me at the time.”

Refusing to let a lack of mentorship put a stop to his pursuit, Ramirez set out into the field and learned primarily through trial and error. Frequent moves throughout his life increased the difficulties to learn, but it also helped garner his passion for public lands.

“Public lands are something that anyone can go out and experience and enjoy,” Ramirez explains. “All it takes is a full tank of gas and a few shells and you’re good to go. It’s there for everyone, regardless of your background and your skill level.”

Ramirez now finds his passion introducing newcomers to the upland lifestyle. Mentoring and educating others were the main motivations behind creating the Upland Jitsu blog.

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“It’s coming full circle for me,” says Ramirez. “Initially I never thought I would get into mentoring. Being introverted myself and coveting that time alone, it surprised me at first and it was a big challenge to let go of that selfishness at first and open up. I really look back to the times when I had a hard time finding a mentor and learning from someone that was more knowledgeable about hunting birds and upland hunting in general. It’s really rewarding to share the world that means so much to me with others, to help break down barriers like expensive gear, dogs, etc. that stop people from getting started.”

As the upland community strives to bring in more conservationists, the importance of recruiting a more diverse audience continues. When talking with Ramirez about the need to diversify and increasing opportunities for minorities, he provided his personal thoughts and experiences.

“I think one of the bigger things to focus on is representation in organizations and brands,” he says. “Show what diversity is in the industry. If people see diversity in organizations and leadership roles, that gets people interested in getting involved. Back when I was trying to get involved, a lot of the get togethers were predominantly white, older males in their 40-60’s. Coming in as a Hispanic, so a young minority, there was a little bit of tension, but it was hard to pinpoint what the reason was. Someone coming in that doesn’t look like you was a little out of the ordinary for them.”

Ramirez continued to push through the challenges to succeed as an upland hunter, even as he experienced discrimination out of the field with others.

“There are always these jokes about certain game, jackrabbits or diver ducks for instance, “says Ramirez. “These species have been sort of a taboo animal to consume. There was a comment after a hunt with a rabbit where the individual said, ‘give it to the Mexican because Mexicans eat that stuff.’ Comments like that aren’t conducive and certainly aren’t welcoming. That being said, it seems as though the majority of people involved in hunting are open to outsiders coming in. It’s unfortunate that it’s that smaller group that tends to be pretty vocal.”

Regardless of the many challenges and barriers Ramirez has encountered, he continues to grow in his role as a hunter and even more so as a mentor, and to share the knowledge and importance of how outdoorsmen and women can give back to conservation. The concern surrounding the downward trend in hunters, nationwide, and what this means for the land we all love, hasn’t been lost of him.

“The lifestyle that we all enjoy is facing extinction in a way. Hunter numbers have decreased over the past few decades,” Ramirez says. “I think in the past few years the industry has started to take a look at the narrative and look at who their members are today. It comes down to diversity, a lot of these people are stepping up to the plate now. I think it’s important to not necessarily run things like we did in the ‘80s and ‘90s and instead connect with multiple generations. We’re not necessarily getting new blood, which makes the whole R3 (recruit, retain and reactivate) aspect important. Mentorship is going to have to be everyone’s responsibility at some point to save this tradition and continue our heritage with upland hunting.”

The next generation of hunters and conservationists is especially important to Ramirez as he raises his 4 (well, 4 ½ if you ask her) year-old daughter and thinks about what the outdoors will look like for her. As Ramirez works to foster inclusion within mentoring and the outdoor space, he hopes that others will follow suit.

“I hope to some extent that she does partake in hunting,” says Ramirez. “In general, I would like for anyone, not just my daughter, to see an industry that’s a lot more open, friendly, and representative of women and minorities. This industry is filled with a lot of people that long for a simpler life and traditional values, cherished by all. Currently, there seems to be quite a few people that are resistant of change. It would be nice to see a more diverse crowd, I hope that happens for her.”

To learn more about Jorge Ramirez and Upland Jitsu, tune into our On the Wing Podcast interview

 


Marissa Jensen is PF and QF’s education and outreach program manager

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you liked it and want to be the first to receive more great content like this, become a member today!