Making Sure We leave a Good Impression With Non-hunters
I know a lot of you folks have deer on the brain for just about every waking moment, and I can say that I'm no different. I'm always thinking about all the different things that go with it, and with my work at QDMA, I'm also looking at what hunting means to us as both individuals and as members of society at large. Ultimately, I'm also thinking about what will lead to maintaining deer hunting as one of our great heritages that we can proudly pass down to the next generation.
For starters, we need to always obey the law. Those laws are put into place for good reason, and we need to ensure that we always strive to follow them. It's not just about putting a deer on the ground at all costs; we're ultimately responsible for the deer population and the public's perception of hunters. Each of us is an ambassador for deer hunting, and our individual actions each reflect upon us all. The law, and good ethics, is what separates the good hunters from the ones that bring down the public on our heads. While we shouldn't hide the fact that we are hunters, waltzing up to the local diner covered in blood isn't really appropriate, either, nor is acting a fool in public while wearing camo and hunter's orange. I can't tell you how to live your life, but I do ask you to think about how your image affects the rest of us deer hunters. So, in addition to providing better hunting for ourselves and future generations and maintaining a good public image, obeying the law also promotes safety. So please, take some time before this season kicks off, and review your local guidelines for deer hunting.
My next point is about deer hunters sticking together. We're blessed to have such a diverse array of options for communication, what with the boom of social media. However, the Internet is a huge double-edged sword; people, who are perfectly normal in person, can lose their minds and argue over the most childish of things. Public perception is pretty darn important to deer hunting, and things like Facebook are how other people are learning about who we are. So before you hit submit on that response, make sure you really mean what you're saying, Ultimately, hunters only make up about 6% of the US population, so while there's a lot of us, we're still a minority, so we've gotta stick together. Disagreements happen, but let's be respectful, both in person and online, especially if the other hunter is still following the law and hunting ethically.
If we're going to help ensure the future of deer hunting, then we need to get involved in its future. I love what I do as a hunter, and ultimately that's what lead me to working for QDMA. Now, you don't have to quit your day job to get involved, but being a part of a larger organization does help with lobbying our government to ensure favorable laws for deer hunters and hunting in general. The more hunters we have, the more pull we can throw for hunting. Responsible land management is another simple way to get involved, and QDMA has all kinds of tools to assist you with that. And of course, education is a great way to get involved, both self-education and teaching new hunters about deer hunting.
This brings me to the final point; introducing new hunters. As I mentioned earlier, hunters make up only 6% of the US population. That's not as big a number as I thought, myself, but it does show a trend that less and less people are getting out there. Each one of us, being the ambassadors that we are, can introduce someone to the joys of the outdoors and hunting every year, and I strongly encourage you to do so. It not only promotes hunting as a whole, but safe, legal, and ethical practices that help making deer hunting what it is. It's the kind of gift that not everyone can give; only 6% of the US has that skill and knowledge. So if your neighbors have a kid or two that's always wondered why you're leaving at 5 in the morning wearing all that camouflage, or if a buddy at work says they've never been, try and find a way to get them involved. Deer hunting is the great sport it is today because of how easy it is to get hooked, and we can only make that better with effort.
My time with QDMA makes me realize how lucky we are to have deer hunting, and the impact we can have on something that simple, as well as the impact it has on us. We can always make our mark on it, and improve it for the following generations of hunters. So get out there, get educated, be united, stand firm, and go get'em!