In part 1 of this article, I talked about how the individual defines their success as a hunter. Now I want to dive in and look at what a successful hunting season looks like for the hunting community as a whole.
As hunters, we are part of a small group of Americans. Our numbers have grown smaller and smaller each year. We now number only 5% of the U.S. population. Whether we are republicans, democrats, or something else—we are all hunters. While we all have our own individual goals as hunters, the continuation of the tradition of hunting depends on meeting goals as a community. A successful hunting season means that we have recruited new hunters, reactivated those who quit hunting, and retained hunters who hunted the previous season. It also means meeting our goals for the harvest of animals. Harvesting too many means that the animal populations will decline past the target. If too few are killed, then the species will be overpopulated and will suffer losses from lack of food, winter kill, and car accidents.
Finally, success for hunters as a whole means being good ethical ambassadors of our sport to the rest of the country who do not hunt. This is arguably the most important thing we can do right now to ensure the continued opportunity to hunt. Engage in dialogue with non-hunters, vegans, and even other hunters. Stress the importance of the role we play in conservation. The management of populations we engage in as the apex predator of many species. Explain why you hunt and the natural sustainable protein you consume from the animals you kill. Some people are never going to love the idea of hunting and that’s alright. Don’t rub hunting in their faces. Show them that you respect their choice to avoid hunting and they may eventually respect our choice to hunt.
When you are in the field, employ the principles of fair chase. Take ethical shots, be respectful of private property boundaries. Be considerate to non-hunters who may be using a piece of public land too. Leave the woods in better shape than it was when you got there. Leave no trace whenever possible, clean up trash you find, and make sure you are not leaving animal remains out in the open. Follow your state’s game laws and be the perfect example of an ethical and conscientious hunter to everyone you meet.
If license and equipment sales are any indication, we are on track to have a great season in terms of hunter participation. Do your part to help educate and mentor new hunters, share the great public resource of game we all own, and ensure that the hunting community has a successful season in 2020.