PORT ARTHUR —
Someone asked me why hunters they talk with almost seem antagonistic about nongame animals, especially the endangered ones.
This is a great question.
There truly seems to be a giant divide amongst hunters about endangered animals and anything other than game animals. Hunters for years have touted how we are stewards of all wildlife but there is genuine animosity toward species like wolves in certain portions of the hunting community,
I think some of it has to do with the political ploy some interests have made of the Endangered Species Act to shut down logging and business practices that has burned many people.
People who hunt are rightfully nervous about people who will use whatever legal maneuvering they can to take away hunting privileges and property rights.
There is, however, another side to the story.
In the last 20 years, we have raised a kill-only, instant gratification generation of hunters who are more worried about getting a cool kill shot for Youtube on their video camera than they are the actual hunting experience.
It is amazing how limits driven hunters under the age of 40 are and if you venture onto hunting social media, the commentary can be disappointing.
Our society as a whole has a huge entitlement mentality and this has filtered into hunting as it has everything. Buy a license and you are entitled to shooting a limit, giant buck, etc.
It does not help that we are raising a generation who have played hundreds of hours of hunting and shooting video games where gratification in instant, the racks are always big and there is always an opportunity to shoot a full limit of ducks.
Add to that hunting television programs that are based on one-upping one another to the point seeing a record class buck taken on television is no big deal.
These are all factors in the equation and my concern is we may loose the heritage of conservation that birthed modern sport hunting.
The sum total of hunting efforts makes a positive impact economically and biologically in most cases no matter the intentions of the hunters but we have to start asking who will be the future members of Ducks Unlimited (DU) the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Safari Club International (SCI) and other hunting-based groups with conservation missions.
There will always be leaders in every generation who rise to the top and hopefully this one has people to follow them. If we are going to say hunting benefits not only game animals (as the industry has for years) it has to come from a place of sincerity and there is plenty of room for that.
After all, hunters pushed state fish and game departments to enact bag limits on game animals.
Hunters lobbied for excise taxes on sporting goods to go toward wildlife conservation.
Hunters have saved millions of acres of wetlands through DU and Delta Waterfowl and have helped untold numbers of big game animal populations grow through groups like RMEF and SCI.
Hunters are the visionaries in the conservation movement around the world but we have to take an honest look at the world we live in and start emphasizing the experience of the hunt and teach the future (and present) young hunters to respect all of the creatures they see in the field.
In the current climate, all it would take is about three years of drought in the prairie pothole duck nesting region and the corresponding cut in bag limits and seasons to lose a gigantic proportion of young duck hunters. We have had liberal season and bags for so long many would not have a clue what to do if they could only take three birds.
We need to raise up a generation of hunters who are in it for the long haul and realize it is just as much a blessing to see an eagle flying in the sky while lying in the field to hunt geese as it is shooting specklebellies.
And we need to let our kids come up shooting does and spikes to work their way up the hunting ladder instead of pushing a trophy hunting mentality on them before they enter kindergarten.
We are blessed to have many good, conscientious hunters in our region who instill these kinds of values and their children and grandchildren will be the future leaders in the hunting industry.
Let us hope they have millions to follow them to restore a deeper respect for the resources and stand proudly for our heritage of conservation.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)
PORT ARTHUR —
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