I just spent a great day with Colorado and Wyoming wildlife biologists, scientists, game wardens and other dedicated conservationists. As their invited guest speaker at an annual event in Fort Collins, Colo., they asked me to address the critical issue of how we can recruit new hunters and trappers into this glorious outdoor lifestyle.
Where oh where does one begin?
We all know how the urbanization of America erupted with the industrial revolution in the late 19th century and early 20th century, transforming our society from a rural farming economy—where most people were connected to the land—to an urban economy where the people left the land. However, though the social landscape of America was fundamentally changed, the natural hunting lifestyle remained valid and universally endorsed well into the 1960s.
Then something very sinister began to metastasize across the land that delved into the realm of the absurd. The increasing disconnect from nature created a growing cult of denial; people weren’t just removed from the land, many also became spiritually castrated from the role of stewardship. In 1975 this misguided view of nature voiced its lies in a CBS television special titled “The Guns of Autumn.” This program was a graphic, hateful, anti-nature and anti-hunting propaganda smear. Every emotional, dishonest, knee-jerk anti-hunting view imaginable flashed across the television screen for an hour. Such is how they successfully painted a picture of slob hunters wantonly slaughtering innocent, sad-eyed creatures in the bloodstained snow.
Brain-dead, doped-up hippies who wouldn’t know a moose from a platypus and other such misanthropes, who were dedicated to saving Bambi and other baby cartoon animals everywhere, were spurred to action. The scourge called the “animal-rights” activist was born.
Meanwhile, hunters just kept hunting. But with the blitzkrieg of anti-hunting propaganda appearing with increasing regularity in and on every form of media, hunting began to get a bad name. Dopey academia and the media elite were also intentionally making hunters out to be bad guys; as a result, the non-hunting public was starting to be tainted by this intensely orchestrated lie.
All that was bad and ugly enough, but the real horror of horrors was the fact that the hunting industry and hunters in general—busy celebrating the unprecedented successes of game management and the flourishing big- and small-game hunting opportunities everywhere—were sound asleep to this new and unbelievable culture war.
Our children were bombarded with nasty anti-hunting insanity in school and literally everywhere. While dads were living the hunting dream, little Johnny and Susie were being bludgeoned with anti-hunting lies on a daily basis, causing them to question, even turn on, their family’s values. Many of our children were fortified with the truth about hunting, nature and wildlife from us, but slowly and surely, the repetitious falsehoods overwhelmed the less than dedicated hunting families, and an entire generation was more likely to side with “animal-rights” maniacs than with their family hunting traditions.
Add to this bizarre propaganda machine the fact that game departments in many states were being increasingly strangled by politically correct bureaucrats who were siding more and more with anti-hunters than with the people who actually paid their salaries, and the perfect storm was brewing for bad, even dangerous management decisions.
Wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars and other predators were off limits to sensible management even after they’d recovered. Illogical, nonsensical, arbitrary and capricious hunting regulations were filling the pages of game laws and hunters were being harassed and confused at an alarming rate, thereby discouraging people from participating in their once-beloved sport.
Meanwhile, some hunting publications and so-called leaders were actually preaching that hunters should deny their hunting heritage, not wear camo or NRA hats in public, not talk about hunting and guns and basically turn tail and run like soulless liberals faced with a challenge.
What I told the gathering was simple: Stand up for what you believe. Never hide your hunting pride. Wear camo and NRA hats everywhere you go. Never defend anything, but rather promote and celebrate this perfect hands-on conservation lifestyle everywhere you go. Initiate the pro-hunting, pro-gun dialog relentlessly. Share stories and photos of family hunting adventures and of dead game. Rave about the purest, healthiest diet available to mankind: venison!
Show that beautiful deer in your truck and hang that deer in your yard for all to see. Testify at every wildlife meeting you possibly can. Give away NRA memberships to everyone in your life. Write that letter to the editor in your hometown newspaper gushing about the wonderment of taking your kids hunting so we don’t have to hunt for our kids.
Call in on the local talk radio show and rave about the joys of the natural hunting lifestyle. Invite all your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to join you at the range and at a wild-game dinner. Take someone new hunting and shooting every chance you get.
Lobby elected officials to rid our game laws of foolish regulations that serve no beneficial purpose other than to harass us and complicate our time afield. Never accept the status quo. Make people think and demand honest answers. Never say never and never give up.
Never allow the government to hire so called “sharpshooters” to kill our game in places where we are not allowed to hunt, using methods we are not allowed to employ.
Never allow a bureaucrat to turn wildlife assets into wildlife liabilities. Demand that the wolf is taken off the endangered species list immediately. They are not endangered anymore; they are overpopulated.
Do not sit back and watch. Charge forth and take control. We the people are supposed to be the boss—the government works for us. This Father’s Day take your son, daughter and even parents out shooting. Invite your neighbors or your children’s friends. Live and save the outdoor lifestyle. The natural world is better off when we take part in it.