Every hunter I know is an ambassador of our sport and our outdoor heritage. Some realize this daily while others…well…don’t see themselves there yet. When you think of what an ambassador does, it really makes you understand our importance in hunting and conservation. By definition, an Ambassador is an accredited person sent by an organization to represent them. So…how well do each of us represent the hunting community? Do we speak of hunting and its associated partners in a positive light every chance we get? Would the hunting community each of us represents be proud of us? Would your mother be proud (always a good gauge for me)?
Hunter numbers are pretty darn important. Together, we are a force to reckon with. But our numbers are dwindling in many areas. Over time, our numbers may not have the weight they do today if each of us fails to share our outdoor adventures with others. That is the bad news. The good news? Hunting is just more fun when we share our passion with others!
It is hard to imagine that one of the darkest issues facing conservation in the coming years is lack of hunters. When you realize our hunters provide Nebraska with a $848 million economic impact annually, supporting nearly 9,000 jobs, its downright scary to think of the consequences. Especially when this problem is so easy to solve. With 176,000 hunters in Nebraska, if only an additional 5% would enhance their deer camps and turkey hunts with a new hunter and help them along their journey of becoming a hunter….problem solved. This isn’t just about taking kids out to the field although that is darn important. This is about inviting the neighbors kids too. Asking co-workers, family and friends if they would like to try hunting. Some of the most die hard hunters I know have started late in life as adults. They simply did not grow up doing these activities and hunting can be difficult to get into if Dad or Mom did not introduce you to the sport.
Today there is a large movement afoot by those adults who seek to live “naturally” and want to know where their food comes from. These “locavores” are your friends, family and co-workers and they would love to be invited to the field with you. What about kids? Most studies suggest that not only would most kids go hunting if asked, but making a hunter out of them will have many positive benefits in their lives as adults. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids? Not to mention, the quality time you spend with your kids in the field is second to none. Over the years, my daughter and I shared conversations and laughter in the turkey blind that we never would have sitting on the couch! For a few days each year, I feel like a hero to my kid! Busy with her degree program, we still find time to share the turkey woods each year. Am I glad we started these traditions early!
As hunters, we love our heritage and what it represents. We are proud to be the economic benefactor for conservation. If each of us can see ourselves as an ambassador of the great outdoors, I think we can have even greater impacts to conservation. There are people in our lives that would greatly benefit from hunting. Be an ambassador and ask them to join you this fall. Be an outdoor hero to someone you care about!