I spent a great day in Fort Collins Colorado with Colorado and Wyoming wildlife professionals, biologists, scientists, game wardens and other dedicated conservationists. As the invited guest speaker at their annual event, they requested I address the critical issue of how we can go about recruiting new hunters, fishers and trappers into this glorious outdoor lifestyle in the wild times of the Twenty-First Century.
Where oh where does one begin?
We all know how the urbanization of America erupted with the industrial revolution in the early part of the 20th Century, transforming our society from a rural farming, connected to the land lifestyle to the overall citification of the nation. Though the social landscape of America was changing by leaps and bounds, the natural hunting lifestyle remained valid and universally endorsed well into the 1960s.
Then something very sinister began to metastasize across the land that went far beyond geographical distance, deep into the realm of the absurd when this disconnect created a growing cult of denial, not just removed from the land, but spiritually castrated from the role of stewardship.
Then around 1975, the vicious CBS television lie, “The Guns of Autumn” fired a shot across the bow of conservationists everywhere, creating the most graphic, hateful, anti-nature, and anti-hunting propaganda smear ever.
With every emotional, dishonest, knee jerk image imaginable flashed across the television screen for an hour, they successfully painted a picture of slob hunters, wantonly slaughtering innocent , sad eyed creatures in the blood stained snow as hunting in America as we know it.
Spurred on by braindead dope infested hippies who wouldn’t know a moose from a platypus, dedicated to saving Bambi and baby cartoon animals everywhere, the scourge of so called “animal right’s” was born.
Meanwhile, hunters just kept on hunting. But with the blitzkrieg of anti-hunting propaganda appearing with increasing regularity in and on every form of media, intentionally misrepresented by the dopey academia and media elite, the non-hunting public was starting to be tainted by this intensely orchestrated lie to the point where hunting and hunters were beginning to be looked down upon.
All that was bad and ugly enough, but the real horror of horrors was the fact that the hunting industry and hunting community, busy celebrating the unprecedented successes of game management and the flourishing big and small game hunting opportunities everywhere, were sound asleep to this new and unbelievable culture war, while the enemy grew in strength, numbers and finances.
Our children were bombarded with nasty anti-hunting insanity in school, at play, ubiquitous in youth oriented media, movies, music, TV, newspapers, magazines, literally everywhere. And while dad and Uncle Joe were living the hunting dream, little Jonny and Susie were being bludgeoned with anti-hunting lies on a daily basis, causing them to question, even turn on their families.
Many of our children were fortified with the truth about hunting, nature and wildlife from us, but slowly and surely, the repetitious falsehoods overwhelmed the less than dedicated hunting families, and an entire generation was more likely to side with animal right’s maniacs than with their family hunting traditions.
Add to this bizarre Goebbels style propaganda machine the fact that game departments in many states were being increasingly strangled by politically correct bureaucrats siding more and more with anti-hunters than with the people who actually paid their salaries, and the perfect storm was brewing for bad, even dangerous mismanagement decisions.
Wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars and other predators were being protected. Illogical, nonsensical, arbitrary and capricious hunting regulations were filling the pages of game laws, and hunters were being harassed and confused at an alarming rate, thereby discouraging people from participating in their once beloved sport.
Meanwhile, the industry snoozed.
Some hunting publications and so called leaders actually preached that hunters should deny their hunting heritage, not wear camo or NRA hats in public, hide game from the eyes of society, not talk about hunting and guns, turn tail and run like soulless democrats faced with a challenge.
I could go on.
What I told the gathering this day is simple; stand up for what you believe in. Never hide your hunting pride. Wear camo and NRA hats everywhere you go. Never defend anything, but rather promote and celebrate this perfect hands-on conservation lifestyle everywhere we go to everyone we meet. Initiate the pro-hunting, pro-gun dialog relentlessly. Share stories and photos of family hunting adventures and dead game. Rave about the purest, healthiest diet available to mankind; Venison!
Show that beautiful deer in your truck, hang that deer in your yard for all to see. Testify at every wildlife meeting you possibly can. Give away NRA memberships to everyone in our lives. Write that letter to the editor in your hometown newspaper gushing about the wonderment of taking your kids hunting so we don’t have to hunt for our kids.
Call in on the local talk radio show raving about the joys of the natural hunting lifestyle. Invite all your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors at church and school to join us at the range and in the field. Take someone new hunting and shooting every chance we get.
Hammer elected officials to rid our gamelaws of foolish regulations that serve no beneficial purpose other than to harass us and complicate our time afield. Never accept the status quo. Destroy entrenched paradigms. Make people think and demand honest answers. Never say never and never give up. If you see something wrong, fight to make it right.
Never allow the government to hire so called “sharp shooters” to kill our game where we are not allowed to hunt, using methods we are not allowed to employ.
Never allow a bureaucrat to turn wildlife assets into wildlife liabilities. Demand that the wolf is taken off the endangered species list immediately. They are not only not endangered, they are dangerously overpopulated.
Do not sit back and watch. Charge forth and take control. We the people are supposed to be the boss, not the government that works for us.
Eliminate the self-inflicted land mine field that stands in the way of recruitment.