I have been captivated by this photo. It is often said that a picture is worth a 1,000 words and that is exactly how I feel. I first saw this photo a few months ago and and I recently contacted Joni to see if I could use it for a blog post, not sure what topic I would attach to it. She was happy to allow me to use it. “It was taken in Hugo Colorado”, Jonie explained. “I went there for my father’s funeral. We decided to visit the home he grew up in, which is now abandoned. The yard was full of deer and turkey and they refused to leave. It was the only house in the neighborhood that they were on. The sunlight was beautiful there. My siblings and I found it as a comforting sign. My father was an avid outdoorsman and the fact that even as we walked around, the animals didn’t run away – made us feel comfort somehow”.
When Joni told me the story behind the photo, I knew there was a reason why this photo was calling to me. It made me think about what it means to me to be a hunter. Being an avid outdoorsman is so much more than hunting. It is the bond that we all share of caring and loving these beautiful animals. That is the message I want to talk about today. Some non-hunters cannot wrap their minds around the fact that something so beautiful is hunted. The juxtaposition of being a hunter and being a conservationist may be hard for some to understand. Simply put, we hunt to enjoy the harvest, but we give back to protect and preserve the animals.
There are many exceptional organizations that are dedicated to conservation and the two that I hope to become more involved with this year are the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) . “To put back more than we take”, the camp motto of Wildlife Action Club (WLA), another very worthwhile organization, describes the efforts that hunters and outdoorsman strive to do.
Members and volunteers from these organizations participate in so many worthwhile projects that directly benefit turkey and deer populations all over the country. They do this by improving habitats for the wildlife to flourish. An example that many can relate to is overpopulation of turkeys and deer in urban areas. These animals become dependent, as well as a nuisance, and lose their fear of man resulting in their inability to survive in the wild. Through strategic programs, education, funding, and participation of so many members, great progress is being made to improve the habitat so that these animals can thrive.
Areas where turkey populations were nearly eradicated, are now making a comeback that is undeniable.That is the accomplishment that wildlife management strives for and it cannot be done without hunters. In the early 1900’s, without restrictions in place, wild turkeys were nearly wiped out. There is no turning back now. We must continue to protect our wildlife and their habitat. That is why hunters are passionate about conservation as to protect the tradition of hunting generations to come as well as protecting the outdoors for everyone whether they hunt or not. Without hunting regulations, tags, and licensing of hunters, funds would not be available to manage our wildlife. Through organizations like NWTF and QDMA, the efforts of conservation are paying off. I sincerely hope that my message is understood and appreciated.
I leave you with two of my favorite quotes:
“Without hunting there would be no conservation, without conservation there would be no wildlife.”
“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.” –Theodore Roosevelt
Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2017 to all! Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.