By Cody Altizer
I came across a very interesting article on the interwebs last week that raised my eyebrows, caught me off guard, and surprised me like I hadn’t been surprised in a long time as a hunter. It was a story explaining that hunting is currently experiencing it’s highest approval rating from the general public since 1995! Imagine that. In today’s world where swatting a fly gets you a letter of notice from PETA, hunting approval is at an all time high. All I have to say is, “keep it up hunters!” It makes me proud to be a conservationist, sportsman, and hunter.
That being said, the competitor in me always feels as if there is always room for improvement. And while I am very proud of where we’re at right now as a hunting community, I believe we can still do a much better job of portraying hunting and conservation in the best light possible. In order to ensure the future of the sport we all love so dearly, it’s crucial that we do this. Below I’ve listed three ways in which we can do just that.
One of the strongest and most effective tools against the ignorance and attacks from anti-hunting groups is education. Now, I’m not suggesting we all go away to a university and get a master’s degree in wildlife biology or wildlife management, because education doesn’t necessarily equal a degree, but we should make educating ourselves a top priority, so that we can then educate others. In the defense of those who don’t share the same opinions we as hunters do, I wholeheartedly believe that many of these people lack knowledge of hunting more than anything else. If we can educate ourselves to the best of our abilities, we can then in turn share that knowledge and perspective with others and shed light on conservation, biology, and the management aspect of the hunt to better educate others as to why we do what we do. There’s more information available now than ever before thanks to the Internet; let’s access it, dive in head first, and educate ourselves the best we can. An education is a powerful tool that can’t be realized until it’s in one’s possession.
This is a broad topic, but it’s one we as hunters need to be, well, aware of, and I’m a perfect example. If you would have asked me before reading the aforementioned article what the general public’s approval of hunting would be, I would have quickly responded, “Very low.” I was completely unaware of how well hunters reflect and represent our sport to the general public. Still, like I said, I think we can do better. We can do better by being aware of our own actions as well as how the general public perceives us as hunters. We can do a better job on social media representing our sport by sharing useful links with research, facts, and science that show hunting is not only an enjoyable pastime, but a necessary part of any wild ecosystem. We can take more respectful harvest pictures that show the hunt is more about the pursuit of an animal than it is about the kill, and we can speak more intelligently when we come under attack. But it all starts with awareness on our part, so we can do our part to raise it within others.
No, I don’t mean tracking down the next four star hunting recruit to add to your hunting pro staff, I mean recruiting younger hunters into our sport! They literally are the future of hunting, and we must take responsibility for getting more kids and other hunters involved. With technology making hunting more accessible and easier to be more successful at than ever before, now is the time to introduce someone new to the outdoors . With hunting approval the highest it has been in close to 20 years, now is the perfect time do it. Believe it or not, there will come a time when each and every one of us will no longer be able to draw our bow or climb a treestand, let’s not be the last generation to enjoy Mother Nature’s resources. Take a kid, your brother, sister, coworker, somebody, it doesn’t matter; recruit new hunters to join our ranks. It’s the right thing to do, and in the end, the more hunters that are involved, the greater chance we have of protecting our rights and ensuring the future of hunting.
Good job, hunters! Give yourself a pat on the back. We’ve come a long away, and despite what liberal media tries to do to taint our public image, we’ve persevered and have achieved a strong turn around in the eye of the general public. However, it’s times like these where we find ourselves at a crossroads. We can take one of two routes. We can follow the path we are on and be content with where we’re at (which is something to be proud of, no doubt), or we can strive to improve even more and continue to make a positive impression on society. I vote for the latter!
– Cody Altizer, CodyAltizerPhotography.com