We all love giving and receiving gifts during the holiday season, but most outdoors enthusiasts would agree that the real rewards aren't found in stores.
Hunters and anglers do good every day, but they can give this holiday season in a number of ways that draw upon their own abilities and interests.
Here are just a few ideas on ways you can give back along with a good present before the year is out.
1. Donate Meat
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in 2010, 11 million meals were provided to the needy as a result of donations by hunters. Every good hunter knows the incredible feeling when they finally tag that deer, but imagine the fond memory of then donating that meat to someone who can really use it. Two great sources for finding a place to donate meat are the NRA's Hunters for the Hungry and Farmers and Hunters Feed the Hungry.
2. Volunteer for a Charity Hunting or Fishing Trip
Remember your first hunting or fishing trip, and how life-changing it was? This year, you can bring that same experience to someone else by volunteering for a charity hunting or fishing trip. Hunt of a Lifetime offers such trips and has chapters in several states.
The United Special Sportman Alliance Inc., is also a great resource for connecting with an aspiring hunter in need. If you're a fisherman, take a look at Cast for Kids and Heroes on the Water, or check out this list of boating and fishing charities.
3. Donate to a Conservation Group
Sure, hunters and fishermen pay license fees every year, which contribute a lot to conservation, but why not take it a step further? Game wardens, park rangers and countless conservationists are a big part of maintaining the properties that make hunting and fishing a possibility, and a donation will help ensure the same experience for future generations.
A simple Google search will turn up several groups in your area working to improve the outdoors, including the local Nature Conservancy chapter or your state's parks and wildlife department. Here's a list of several reputable charities that are doing their parts for nature.
4. Clean Up a River or Property
You've hunted and fished on countless properties all year, and unfortunately, you've probably seen a great deal of trash littering them all. You can find a river cleanup here, or even learn to organize one yourself.
The Nature Conservancy also lists several volunteer opportunities nationwide, and gives ideas on how to can help clean up the outdoors. At a minimum, it's always good to be mindful of trash, including shotgun shells and fishing line, you leave behind, and pick up trash whenever you see it.
5. Become a Volunteer Shooting or Hunting Instructor
A lot of the fear of firearms comes from misunderstanding. You can do your part to instruct people by bringing a friend on a hunting trip or outing to a shooting range. If you want to take it a step further, you can even apply to be an official NRA instructor. Not only will you do a lot toward making sure shooting and hunting is a lot safer, you may also change a lot of minds for the betterment of your sport.
Of course, these are just a few ideas on how to turn your love of hunting and fishing into a charitable donation. All it takes is the desire and drive to help. And there are many ways you can improve the outdoors and the lives of others in the process. To give back feels good.