Many people throughout todays world never will have the privilege to go hunting because their governing bodies and their societies simply dont allow it. In fact, when many people in numerous countries awake in the mornings and reach for their guns, they do so to kill other humans, not wild game.
In some countries where hunting is allowed, several species of animals have been so over-hunted or poached that they now are virtually extinct or are listed as endangered.
Preserving our hunting privileges and opportunities here in America is something that largely is up to us as hunters; how we conduct ourselves, how we care for wildlife both before and after the kill, and how diligently we implement sound wildlife management practices that maintain and enhance wildlife practices.
Anti-hunters often call for hunting to be stopped in the U.S. because of what they perceive as normal hunting behavior, which makes it so important for us to always remember that the future of hunting depends on how the majority of people view hunters.
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Our wildlife belongs to all of the people, but dont expect to see any wildlife conservation programs or projects being supported by any of the so-called "animal rights activists." No, you arent likely to see any members of PETA or similar groups helping build or set up wood duck nesting boxes or building water-gathering sources for desert big horn sheep.
One of the best ways hunters can protect the future of hunting is to look in the mirror and ask how they view themselves as hunters. After all, the most important measure of hunting is how you feel about yourself when you are planning a hunt, how you feel while you are hunting, how you feel when you have made a kill, and how you feel when you tell about it.
Think about the things about hunting that you value and think about how you conduct yourself on the way to hunt and while around others at a camp or lodge. Do you fully understand your role as a hunter?
More than a million years ago, hunters were socially organized and hunted primarily for food, clothing materials, and raw material for tools. Several thousands of years ago, hunters on this continent hunted long-horned bison, beaver as large as bears, and other unusual animals and birds. Yes, a lot has changed.
We are the children of the generations of hunters before us and have great responsibilities not only to protect our rights and privileges to hunt but also to manage a broad range of wildlife species for today and the future.
It is important for all us to remember that many of the animals we hunt today are the result of conservation efforts that have included, in more recent years, the elimination of market hunting and the setting of hunting regulations to prevent over-harvesting of wildlife. As hunters, we all are in it together. Even if you have hunted only one day this year, the money you spent for that single hunting license has been added to the license cost of another hunter who has hunted 50 times or longer with both license fees used for wildlife conservation.
See yourself and wildlife as part of the same community.
While you are looking into the mirror, ask yourself what you have learned from the animals you have hunted. The ethical hunting decisions you make when afield will grow as your knowledge and appreciation of the animal grows.
Hone your hunting skills not only to be a good shot with a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or archery equipment, but also to be a safe hunter. Practice to gain confidence and to learn the capabilities of your weapons, and learn the hunting regulations, especially any changes that may have been made since last season.
Show respect to other hunters with a realization that all hunters are not strictly "trophy" hunters no more than all are "meat" hunters. Hunting is a privilege for all of us to enjoy.