As hunters and hopefully overall contributors to society, how many of us have taken it upon ourselves to make a positive difference? It doesn’t matter how big or small, just something that in our minds left it better than it was? I believe this is where many of us overlook just how powerful each of us can be. I am also a strong believer in karma so it’s always good to hedge things in your favor with the occasional good deed. I’m also not talking about shooting for Sainthood, just doing a valuable and satisfying act. I bet you have if you dig deep enough. Then next questions is what impact did it have and how did it make you feel? If I had to guess you left someone with a smile or appreciation and you just plain felt good.
For the purpose of this article let’s focus on hunting and the outdoors. Truthfully, as good stewards we should strive for improvements to the sport and land. This is a fairly broad target but that’s what makes it great. Pick something that is meaningful or close to you and make it better. I will cite some examples of where I have attempted to be beneficial to the sportsman (and beyond). Please be certain that this is not a chest pounding moment for me to tell you how great I am. Being well aware that I have a long way to go and that I still have many shortcomings, these are only a few of my meager attempts. However, in my mind even these feeble efforts have swayed the space time continuum for at least, maybe one individual, and all outdoorsmen.
Start locally. I was a member of a Sportsman’s Club that had a fairly limited reach but a strong core membership. Unfortunately, the strength is fading as dedicated members age but I did my best to bring in some young (at the time!) blood and renewed spirit. I “ran” for office and was elected. Mainly because no one else wanted to do it, but I was still pleased. Aside from encouraging members to be active in the outdoors we gave out a scholarship to a likeminded youth each year. Along with that we put on a fishing rodeo that allowed kids (and parents) who otherwise may not have went fishing to do so. There was no cost, everything was provided, prizes were given, and everyone ate at the end of the day. Somewhere along the way I can’t help but think a life was changed.
Another chance to give back is to teach hunters education. What a better chance to help someone new to the sport than to educate them in safety and ethics! I have to tell you this may have been one of the more gratifying efforts I partook in. Seeing all those eager youths, supporting parents, and even adults taking the course really hit home. This was the future. I was helping to mold what will be the continuation of something that I love so much.
Too bashful to get in front of a crowd? Too busy for clubs or volunteer work? No worries. There are plenty of outdoor supporting organizations that would gladly take your money and convert it to conservation or other organizations that support or utilize sportsmen to make a difference. There are so many I can even begin to list them all. But you can go national or local in your efforts. Some that I support and/or have supported include The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation. I also have hopefully touched some more local folks by donating to Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry which has programs in place for hunters to donate animals to feed those who are in need. With a little effort there is no doubt in my mind you can find something out there to get behind that can make a positive impact on someone or something meaningful in your life.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with my current effort. It hasn’t came together yet but it really opened my eyes at the generosity of our outdoors brethren. There is a local youth with some physical challenges that has become gonzo about hunting. Dad isn’t much of a player in his life and mom has no experience with hunting. His grandpa took him shooting with a .22 and he is desperate for more. He happened over to my house while his mom was picking up his sister (friends of daughter) and showed him around my basement where all my mounts and pictures are. Man did his eyes light up. Anyway, this led me to reach out to someone I know who I thought could help in a situation like this and maybe line the kid up with a hunt. Man did she come through! He could have gone to Texas for anything, Arizona for elk, and Missouri for whitetail. These organizations and ranches were willing to chip in for gas and even pay for tags. The selflessness was unbelievable. It made me proud to be a hunter. However, it was all a bit much for mom so I wasn’t able to bring it all together. I’m still trying to figure something out locally to get him some action and keep within mom’s comfort level. The way I look at it, this is just another way to help secure our sport for years to come and make a positive impact one life at a time.
OK, now it’s your turn. I’ve given you some things to consider but it’s now up to you to act. There is no right or wrong here except not doing anything. Protect hunting and fishing and be a contributor to society by helping someone along the way. It will make you feel all warm on the inside but more important will be the impacts that transpire for years to come whether you know it or not.