Built on the experience, work, traditions, stories, and ideals of generations before them, the future of the hunting lifestyle and culture rests in the hands and decisions of the next generation of hunters and conservationists.
Here are five imperative pieces of advice we need to pass down to the next generation of hunters.
Whether the back 40 is your only hunting grounds or you can invest thousands of dollars in hunting adventures across this country, your reputation and effectual impact will precede and ultimately follow you throughout your life. Politically, hunting is supported by the majority of constituents but has minority participation.
The existence of the hunting lifestyle and community sets precariously in the hands of millions of nonhunters across this country. The next generation of hunter needs to be fully aware of the fact that their actions in the field and interactions with the public can pay dividends and reap consequences alike. The adage “Actions speak louder than words” holds especially true for hunters in the perception of those whose support the culture needs.
Invest in Conservation
By default, when you purchase a hunting license or conservation stamp, you are investing and contributing to the future of the hunting. That is literally the least you can do. The second piece of advice upcoming hunters should hear is to give more than you take.
Investment in conservation has many faces. The most obvious is financial. Maintaining an active membership in a conservation group like Ducks Unlimited or The Wild Sheep Foundation ensures that dollars you contribute toward the cause have precise goals in mind and purpose. Perhaps a greater investment is that of personal time. Volunteering for range rehabilitation projects or fundraising banquets aid greatly in the facilitation of these projects and our message. This level of involvement also strengthens the relationship we as hunters have to the resources we value so greatly.
Hone Your Craft
Perhaps the largest disservice hunters can commit is an unfamiliarity with their gear and the activities encountered during the hunt. To treat a hunt and the game you pursue as no more than a weekend commitment is to open the floodgates for Murphy’s Law to mar the future of this lifestyle. Realistic standards and expectations need to pair cohesively in order to ensure that hunting and those that participate in the activity can stand the test of time. That’s the long form statement of advice for practice, practice, practice. Days in the field and at the range in the offseason will pay dividends come opening morning. Your willingness to better yourself physically and mentally also stands as a show of respect for the game you pursue and the lifestyle you endorse.
Accept Failure as Part of the Process
If hunting carried a 100% success rate it would be called grocery shopping. In the field, perfection is relatively unattainable. The wind can switch directions spooking a herd. Yardages can be misjudged in the heat of the moment causing an arrow to sail high into the grass. Animals will rarely follow the course of action determined by those that hunt them. Failure is a necessary learning tool in the journey that a lifetime hunter will encounter many times. This fact may be one of the most important life lessons that is associated with hunting. Without failure and disappointment, success wouldn’t carry such weighted feelings of accomplishment. Knowing upfront that hurdles will need to be overcome with every trip afield can help foster the ideal work ethic to be an ambassador for the hunting lifestyle, ultimately helping ensure its longevity.
Pass it On
The next generation of hunters will beget the following generation and so on. It is important to share this legacy with those you care about. The lessons learned on a hunt will transfer to various walks of life and to selfishly withhold that experience would eventually contribute to its demise. If a family member introduced you to hunting, do the same. If a friend or mentor served as your first guide, provide that service to someone that may not normally find themselves in a hunting situation. By bridging the gap between experienced hunters and the incoming generation, ethical practices will continue and the hunting legacy can continue.