Reloading Our Heritage

By CSF Ambassador Dan Harrison

Cool, crisp air. The crunchy feel of underbrush sparking each step. A perfectly mild sky with the ideal mix of clouds and sun. Complications dissolve and peaceful simplicity reigns. You are back to your roots.

Others travel alongside you, each clothed in muddy browns and mossy greens. Hunters all, proudly reliving an age-old tradition of common heritage. Teamwork may not be essential for this particular hunt, but the company of your brothers-in-arms is always welcome. The camaraderie enhances the fresh air that invites you to venture outdoors and find serenity. Your group shares a special, almost sacred bond that must also have animated the hunting parties of olden times.

Nothing quite beats the satisfaction that is found in a successful hunt. You rejuvenate your soul, calm your mind, and exercise your body all while implementing teamwork and building friendships. The most rewarding part may just be the fulfillment you experience by providing for your family by bringing fresh meat to the table.

So many of our youth today are searching for purpose and meaning, looking for direction in pop culture and finding none. Somewhere, in the static of screen time and electronic chatter, they have lost a vital connection to the earth. We, as hunters, are in a unique position to model a way of life and of thinking that nourishes the soul. We can become mentors.

We can use the wilderness as a tool to instill our values in this country's young people--lasting values that they will be able to use in later life. For many of us, the love of the outdoors and of our sport was kindled when someone took the time to invest in our lives. When someone took the time to take a kid hunting.

Hunting provides an unparalleled opportunity to teach a real-life skill with real rewards. A skill that carries constant challenge and opportunities for improvement. We can teach this generation that stewardship of our land comes in many forms--that responsible hunters are, in fact, some of today's most dedicated environmentalists. It's on our shoulders to educate our youth and arm them with the most powerful weapon in the world--the truth. 

Think of all of the facets of our sport. The physical exhilaration of a long, hard hike while hauling equipment. The mental effort of tracking prey and determining how best to take it. The practice needed to attain the ability to use your weapon effectively. All these hard-won skills serve to give a sense of pride and accomplishment. Ours is not a sport in which everyone gets a participation trophy. Every hunting trip provides rewards, certainly, but the trophies are earned.

There is something to be said for having pride in your work, and a well-executed hunt is worthy of praise. Not only that, but it connects us to our heritage--a long-standing legacy that has been passed down from generation to generation since man and beast first walked the earth. This legacy is a treasure worth keeping, protecting, and continuing; hunting and fishing is not just our right, it’s our heritage.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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