Wildlife Must be the Focus
The name of this publication for the last 30 years has been Texas Fish and Game.
It could have just as easily been Texas Fishing and Hunting or something of that nature but in the beginning, someone decided to make the “Fish and Game” part of the equation prominent.
That is extremely important, but it is easy to look over.
We have a micro niche society where people through social media attain their self-identity through their very specific recreational endeavors. There are fan pages, e-newsletters, smart phone apps and organizations dedicated to virtually every outdoor pursuit.
People are no longer just anglers but “topwater specialists” or “ocean kayakers” or “flats fishermen”.
The title of hunter has become passé and we now have “traditional bowhunters,” “hunter/survivalists,” “duck men” and way too many kids referring to deer by their Boone & Crockett score.
None of this is wrong from a moral standpoint, but we are a long way down a dangerous road of taking the focus off wildlife. The reason there are bass tournaments is because of bass. And the deer hunting industry would be obsolete without deer.
This may seem elementary but the fact is we are raising a generation that in many ways does not get it because the idea of being a complete outdoor person has been lost.
I am amazed how many saltwater anglers under the age of 30 have never caught a bass. Ditto for duck hunters who have never been deer hunting or deer hunters who cannot identify animals like ringtails and badgers.
Last year I was fishing with my friend (and all-time fishing hero) Rick Clunn. Yes, he is the four-time Bassmaster Classic champion but my endearment to Rick is all about his all-around passion for the outdoors.
In a story that appeared in the Sept.-Oct. 2012 edition of Bassmaster, I wrote about how he believes GPS is a double-edged sword for young anglers.
“Instead of learning minute details of seasonal patterns, water conditions, weather factors and ecology, I fear we will have people who simply get the GPS coordinates, which are so easily obtainable, and run the numbers until they find fish,” Clunn said.
“There is an art to fishing and there is potential for some of that to be lost by total reliance on GPS.”
In the same way, social media, which I happen to love, is a double-edged sword for young sportsmen. Although it can serve as a powerful promotional tool, that same aspect can be addictive.
Now, instead of seeing a full hunting video or television program we can just watch the highlight reel and we are becoming programmed to live for the kill shot. The actual encounter with the duck or speckled trout is usurped by the ability to enhance social status by creating a self-highlight reel.
At TF&G, we look at this as an opportunity.
Beginning in this issue we start a yearlong series called “Wild in Texas,” a unique photo essay giving often obscure information about a different creature each month. From wild cats to sharks, we will cover it all. We also plan to take this to our own social media and will be working with wildlife classes around the state to do some unique things with photos and wildlife to help them gain a better appreciation for the resource.
We are continuing our weekly “Wild Ed Newsletter” that goes out to 700 teachers in Texas, impacting thousands of students with free wildlife and fisheries lessons, stories and videos.
If we continue down the road of allowing the technology and gadgets to be the focus, they will eventually become so alluring and so far advanced, kids will opt for air-conditioned, tech-based comfort with instant results instead of hitting the field.
The same kids, however, if challenged to learn about wildlife and ecology at a young age can get hooked on the outdoor lifestyle and be valuable stewards of our great resources. By getting them on deer hunts, duck hunts and fishing trips at young ages and allowing them to see a truly wild creature in person, we give them something that will stay with them forever.
My wife and I have a ministry called Children’s Kingdom Ministries where we teach kids about God through the Creator. We have seen lives changed when kids, like my little buddy Erin Beard, bottle fed a wolf pup and a host of other kids saw snakes for the very first time.
If they care about the creatures, they will care about the land and if they are taught that hunting and fishing are a valuable part of keeping this cycle going, then they are less apt to be influenced by the progressive animal rightists.
Social media has a great potential to actually to help us steer things in the right direction and we plan on being a part of the solution through our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We plan on engaging people on these issues in a fun, positive and educational way.
We at TF&G are proud to begin our 30th year of publication and are more motivated than ever to ensure people get a complete picture of the great outdoors for bowhunting to self-defense and crappie fishing to wildlife photography.
The “Fish and Game” part of our title will always be important to use because without it, none of the pursuits we love would be possible.
E-mail Chester Moore at [email protected]l.com.
Watch him Saturdays on getv/getv.org at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” and hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays, 6-7 p.m. on AM 560 KLVI.