A Dozen Reasons to Appreciate Hunting in Nebraska

August 24, 2016 greg wagner

Hunting is a quiet dampness on a frosty morning. Hunting is the ease of camaraderie. Hunting is the familiarity of a good dog. Hunting is the flash of iridescent reds, golds and bronzes, when a rooster pheasant is spotted in a snow-covered landscape.

Rooster pheasant moving across winter snow cover in Burt County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner.

But, hunting is so much more. Really, it is.

It is part of our history. It benefits nature. It offers an understanding of wildlife.

Teal duck decoys float on a Saunders County wetland during Nebraska’s early teal duck hunting season. Photo by Greg Wagner.

It boosts our economy. It provides funding for conservation and wildlife management. It promotes a healthier lifestyle. It strengthens interpersonal relationships. It makes for lasting memories.

Sunset on a farm in Dodge County during Nebraska’s firearm deer hunting season in November. Photo by Greg Wagner.

It has a charitable characteristic. It bonds us with the land and water.

Kyle Simpson of Elkhorn, NE and his dog Cowboy prepare to enter the teal duck hunting blind in Saunders County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner.

It directly connects us to the cycle of  life and death on our planet.

An adult white-tailed deer buck harvested during the firearm deer hunting season on a farm in Sarpy County, NE. Photo by Greg Wagner.

Here are a dozen reasons why you should appreciate this age-old lifestyle here in the Cornhusker State as our popular fall hunting seasons approach!

  1. Hunting manages wildlife populations. Hunting keeps nature at a healthy balance of which the habitat can support (carrying capacity). Wildlife is a renewable natural resource with a surplus and hunters harvest that surplus! Hunting serves as an integral part of preserving native biodiversity.
  2. Hunting is natural and humane. Nothing could be more natural than hunting, and indeed just about every animal species—including humans—has been either predator or prey at some point in its evolution. Hunting is a ritual that lets a person to participate in the life and death cycles on which all natural systems depend. And, with regard to Mother Nature, she can be extremely cruel if the truth is known! Free ranging wildlife species potentially face horrible scenarios that can lead to death or severe disability such as overcrowding, starvation, disease, extreme weather episodes, violent territorial battles and vicious attacks by predators. A hunter’s well-placed shot with a legal weapon ensures a much quicker means to an end than what Mother Nature has in store!
  3. Hunting benefits all wildlife. Scientifically-based and regulated hunting has never led to threatened or endangered wildlife populations, ever! In fact, hunting funds, in particular dollars generated from application fees/hunting permit/stamp sales, have helped many game and non-game species recover from dwindling numbers through public lands acquisition, habitat improvement and maintenance, research, public information/education, and wildlife law enforcement work.
  4. Hunting is part of our rich heritage. We are all descendants of hunters. The rich and varied hunting heritage of Nebraska dates back to the old stories and diaries of grandfathers, settlers, frontiersmen, mountain men, and early explorers. It goes further back to the Native American tribes – the Omaha, Lakota, and Pawnee — who followed the bison as the seasons turned. It goes even further back to prehistoric people who, according to archaeological  evidence, were the first hunters in Nebraska who killed big game animals for food well over 10,000 years ago.
  5. Hunting controls conflicts between humans and wildlife. Whether it’s a farmer who is experiencing agricultural crop damage done by white-tailed deer or an area of large rural acreages undergoing problems associated with wild turkeys, hunting helps maintain game populations within landowner/homeowner tolerance levels. Animals that are not hunted can become habituated to humans, resulting in an increase in property damage and sometimes harmful encounters.
  6. Hunting has dedicated participants. Hunters play a critical role by providing key survey information from the field that wildlife managers and biologists need to determine the health of ecosystems. Hunters count wildlife, fill out questionnaires, stop at big game check stations and provide biological samples from harvested game animals.
  7. Hunting helps feed the hungry, homeless and others. In the past four years in Nebraska, deer hunters have voluntarily donated more than 71,000 pounds of lean, nutritious, tasty venison to help feed those in need through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Hunters Helping the Hungry program. Laws are in place for an individual hunter to donate his or her legally taken game to another person with proper documentation.
  8. Hunting provides a unique opportunity to harvest and consume locally grown, organic meat. Hunting teaches resourcefulness and how to be more self-sufficient in today’s society. Hunting fits directly into the locavore food movement affording an alternative that lets people have local, free-range, wholesome meat for their families. Wild game meat is really as pure as it gets: no growth stimulants (hormones), no feed additives, no fences, and no Styrofoam and cellophane under the fluorescent lights of the supermarket.
  9. Hunting combats the nature deficit disorder and is good for overall wellness. Hunting offers fitness and fresh air for the body and mind. Hunting isn’t solely about killing an animal. In fact, studies shows that safe hunting under the guidance and training of mentors actually produces a holistic experience that creates less violence in young people. Hunting allows us humans go afield to get re-acquainted with the sights and sounds of nature and get off the grid to escape technology as well as the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In today’s world where parents and children are often going in two different directions and have little time together, hunting is something that can be done in a one-to-one, uninterrupted, beautiful environment making for wonderful conversations. Hunting is also about creating lasting memories. Hunting camp, early fall mornings, sunset in the deer woods, trekking through freshly fallen snow—these are the things of which hunting memories are made.
  10. Hunting contributes greatly to the economy. Hunting-related activities provide many jobs, support a number of businesses, and mean much to local economies and the state’s economy. In Nebraska, hunting has an $848 million dollar impact. It generates $562 million dollars in retail sales and supports 8,856 jobs.
  11. Hunting is safer than many other sports. Statistically, hunting is one of the safer forms of recreation. According to data collected by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, hunting with a gun is the third-safest sport when compared to 28 other popular sports, and has a lower injury rate than golf, volleyball and tackle football. This, most likely, is due in large part to the requirements for successful completion of certified firearm and bowhunter education courses by younger hunters. These courses are funded entirely by hunters through a Federal excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.
  12. Hunting is not wild, uncontrolled savagery. Historically, hunters have formulated their own limits. The North American Wildlife Conservation Model is the only one of its kind in the world and was developed by hunters and anglers in the mid 1800’s. These hunters realized that limits needed to be set in order to protect rapidly disappearing wildlife, and assume responsibility for managing wild habitats. Hunters are governed by specific laws and regulations today in their respective pursuits of game animals and birds.
Your blogger providing required information on an adult male wild turkey immediately after the harvest on his wild turkey hunting permit in Washington County, NE. Photo by Jim Druliner of Omaha, NE.

The post A Dozen Reasons to Appreciate Hunting in Nebraska appeared first on NEBRASKALand Magazine.

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