Hunter recruitment is vital to maintaining our heritage of wildlife conservation, as this ruffed grouse biologist emphasizes during this beautiful day in the field.
Ruffed grouse biologist Meadow Kouffeld works with the Ruffed Grouse Society in Minnesota. She's got what she refers to as her "dream job." She's passionate about grouse, and now woodcock as well, and also about mentoring new hunters into the activity of grouse hunting.
Her job requires her to wear a number of different hats. One day, she says, might require her to attend a forest planning meeting in neighboring Michigan, the next may find her writing a grant for funding a project or writing an article for a magazine. She might also alternate between photographing the events of a field meeting or teaching folks about ruffed grouse and woodcock biology.
Her job never becomes routine. It's always different.
Occasionally she gets to go hunting, and even then she uses the day to teach her fellow hunters a little biology. This day she uses a downed woodcock to teach about the bird's biology, gently turning it over in her hands to show that the ears are below and in front of the eyes and that the brain is located much lower in the skull, below the eyes.
It's a moment that she uses to good effect with hunters who may be new to grouse and woodcock hunting.
But she indicates that hunter recruitment and retention is a significant problem for conservation of these game birds. She emphasizes that sportsmen are the backbone and foundation of wildlife conservation, and that we must do whatever we can to recruit new hunters into the fold.
Our future and the future of these birds depends upon it.
That's an old, familiar story to most hunters. But it's an important one to always keep at the forefront of our thinking. So, when the opportunity presents itself - or create the opportunity yourself even - consider introducing a new hunter into the field.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.