“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham Lincoln
Are you investing in your future? You hear a lot about it these days. The number of books available on this subject are legion and I bet there are even more websites out there on the wonderful world wide web. All of these resources are talking about financially investing for the future, everything from the stock market, buying bonds and real estate to purchasing gold and silver and burying it in your back yard. (Something that I am thinking more about doing)
Investing in the future can take many forms and we as hunters and fishermen seem to be good at this in some ways and in others we really stink. When it comes to planning for the actual hunt we are all about getting ready. Planting food plots, scouting, and getting our gear ready are all things that we have no problem doing. When it comes to planning and investing for the long range future of our sport however, I am afraid as hunters and sportsmen we often fall short.
So what am I really talking about? What can we do to ensure that hunting and fishing and the heritage and culture that surround this way of life endures after we have gone?
We have to invest in the today’s young people. We have to invest, that is take the time to mentor and show young hunters, the ones that will take our place in the woods what our great sport is all about. They can’t do it on their own folks. It is hard these days to just walk out the door and become a hunter.Becoming a hunter requires two basic things; time and a place to hunt. Unfortunately in this day and time we are losing both.
Today’s youth have a massive amount of demands on their time compared to thirty years ago. Sports, computers, cell phones, and a myriad of other distractions take away from time that could be spent afield. When you couple this with more posted land, less areas to hunt, it has been a one two punch on our hunter numbers.
This is not to say that we are without hope. It simply takes some present day hunters with the energy and the leadership to take the proverbial bull by the horns and become hunter mentors, that is take some kids hunting! Once again I am proud to say that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is doing just that.
Recently I was honored to be invited to the Youth Day deer hunt in Monroe County, West Virginia. Eight young hunters had the privilege to hunt with DNR personnel, both Law Enforcement and Wildlife Sections. Thanks to the hospitality of landowner Jim Justice at Gap Mills, West Virginia, the young hunters got the opportunity to hunt a beautiful piece of property with no shortage of deer.
I could not help but think as I watched the eager young hunters that morning, this would have been a dream come true for me when I was a kid. I get to deer hunt with the “game warden” (DNR Officer) or a Wildlife Biologist? You gotta be kidding me!
As you might imagine the planning and logistics to make something like this happen is massive. Transporting the young hunters to and from the hunt, taking care of Hunter Education requirements, conducting gun safety lessons and allowing for time to be spent on the shooting range are a just of the few many items that had to be taken care of. It’s all part of being a hunting mentor.
After a cookout with hotdogs and all the trimmings the blaze orange clad hunters made their way to their respective hunting areas. Each hunter had two DNR partners. The weather was warm and I figured it would be late in the evening before any deer showed up. That proved to be the case, but the young hunters didn’t seem to mind. I waited along with other volunteers at the rallying area awaiting news of the hunt. It was after sunset before all of the proud hunters came in, but they did great. Eight young hunters took eight deer!
The scene that evening was one of beaming young hunters, proud parents and volunteers as they watched their young charges experience their first deer hunt. I watched from the background as smiles, handshakes, and backslaps were exchanged.
I hoped that some twigs were bent. I hoped that the hunter’s bond had been forged with the land, the animals, and brother hunters. This is what the mentor does, plant the seed with a fervent prayer that it grows and takes root.
My brothers in camo I hope that you understand I do not write these words simply to brag about my old alma mater, the West Virginia DNR. I know there are other states that have similar programs. My concern here is to bring this issue to light in hopes there will be other programs such as this spring up. If your home state does have a program like this, maybe you should give them a call.
Now here is another thing. Organized programs like this are great but you don’t have to be enrolled in one to take a kid hunting. I think I have told you something like this before. Somewhere in the circle of people you know there is a kid that would love to go hunting. You don’t need all the latest fancy hunting clothes and gadgets.
Young hunters are just like hunting dog puppies. They do not care how good the weather is, how much game you think you will see today, or how great your hunting spot is, they just want to go! If you don’t have a kid of your own to take hunting, go borrow one.
Invest in your future, take a kid hunting.