This year’s Deer hunting season is nearing its end, having sent the largest army in the free-world into the woods across the Midwest. While our numbers are staggering, they belie a greater problem; our numbers are also stagnating, and have actually seen a downward trend over the past 30 years. Part of the problem is that we’re recruiting less hunters, and keeping even fewer (see what Michigan is facing here).
This year will mark the first year I wasn’t able to get to my family’s hunting camp for opening day in nearly 20 years. A remarkable run considering that period includes high-school, college, marriage and children; but its passing has me reminiscing on my beginnings in the tradition of hunting.
My passion for everything out-of-doors can be traced back to my parents and grandparents and their willingness to include me in their passion for the great outdoors. Learning how to track a rabbit, cast a fly, or field-dress a successfully harvested deer can’t be learned from a book. My parents and grandparents both instilled my outdoor ethic as well as nurtured it by continually getting my outdoors with them.
My earliest hunting memory is of me sitting on my grandfather’s lap in his hunting blind. I had a bag of chips, a coke, and a handful of other things that would never find their way into a normal hunter’s blind. At the time, I was too young to officially hunt, but it didn’t matter. I was “hunting” with grandpa. I don’t remember ever seeing anything on my hunts with grandpa…but that wasn’t the point. Yes, he had his trusty 30-06 (which has since been handed down to me) with him, but he knew that his mission that day wasn’t to harvest a deer; it was to bring the next generation of hunters into the family.
My grandfather hasn’t been to camp for a number of years now…but his tradition lives on in my father and me, and my mission couldn’t be clearer; to pass OUR tradition on. It is this mission that I implore my fellow hunters/outdoorsmen/conservationists joins me in.
As hunters/conservationists and stewards of OUR natural resources, it is our duty to not only protect those resources, but the outdoor heritage that has been passed down to us from previous generations. Take a kid hunting, invite your friends, neighbors, and others new to the out-of-doors into the field and introduce them to what drives each and every one of us…the protection of both our natural resources and outdoor recreation heritage.
More information on getting kids and others into the hunting can be found at: