By Josh Boyd
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, once said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
Roosevelt was an avid hunter, and driving force in modern conservation practices. His love for the beauty of nature, and the value of wildlife as one of America’s finest and most valued resources, is evident in an abundance of today’s views toward conservation.
One unique and defining factor of conservation is that successive generations must carry forward and value the continuation of the practice, or the fruits of our predecessor’s labor will be lost. All that care about our rural lands and diverse populations of wildlife have an active role to play in ensuring the sustainability of these resources.
We as hunters, are in fact, among the most devout and invested conservationists that exist. By efficiently managing our wildlife resources and financially supporting the implementation of numerous habitat improvement projects through license sales, we take a hands-on role in conservation in every sense of the word.
However, an ever-increasing number of those in today’s society do not understand, nor respect a hunter’s role as America’s first true conservationists. Our hunting tradition is under attack like never before, by many who are not able to comprehend that hunters care for wildlife, game species and beyond, far more than most could possibly be capable of understanding.
For this reason, we as hunters and dedicated conservationists, must band together to preserve our nation’s diverse habitat and the wildlife that inhabit it, all the while protecting our deeply rooted hunting heritage. Luckily, for today’s outdoorsmen and women, the opportunities to get involved with conservation practices at the local level and beyond have never been as prevalent.
No matter your outdoor pursuit of choice, there are conservation organizations that cater to the specific goals and values of nearly any interest or activity. Many of these organizations have a widespread network of local chapters. In fact, a quick internet search will often reveal the existence of a local chapter pertaining to many of these organizations within the immediate vicinity of most individuals.
Organizations such as Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, QDMA, NWTF, Pheasants Forever, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, among countless others, are working in a constant effort to preserve our hunting traditions and the game species that we hold such respect for.
Volunteers for these conservation organizations work together to coordinate events such as fundraisers, banquets, wild/habitat management projects, and hunting mentorship programs. These organizations also fight for conservation-minded legislation at both the state and federal level, while also raising awareness for outdoor activism nationwide.
Becoming an active part in one of these many worthwhile organizations is often as simple as seeking membership, and contacting your local chapter to inquire about volunteer opportunities.
The majority of members within these organizations at the local level are typically common individuals, no different in circumstances than any other avid outdoorsman or woman. Most have non-outdoor related careers and family obligations like anyone else. However, these dedicated men and women volunteer their time in order to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the fight for the preservation of our hunting heritage.
In the same manner, you can also assist in securing the future of hunting and other outdoor endeavors for our future generations. By assisting your organization’s local chapter with a habitat improvement project, or volunteering your time to mentor a child in a chapter youth hunt, you will be giving back to the hunting community as a whole.
Are you aware of the presence of a particular organization that you would like to take part in, but no local chapter currently exists? No Problem. Contact the organization’s regional director about the prospect of starting a chapter in your area. Although this might sound daunting to some, with drive, determination, and a group of like-minded individuals, you will have a local chapter off the ground in short order.
Whether a chapter president, a committee member, or an annual member, the benefits of such involvement are easily understood by all who find their peace among the woodlots and creek bottoms of our lands.
As long as man continues to modify habitat to suit the needs of the ever-growing populous, and many among us devalue the role that hunting plays in naturally balancing our ecosystems, there will always be a need for such conservation-based organizations.
With hunting and other outdoor activities under ever-constant threat from those who rally against their existence, and urban sprawl increasingly threatening once pristine wildlife habitat, the value of a strict adherence to conservation-minded principles has never been greater.
When standing united in our fight to protect the hunting heritage and tradition that we hold dear, we as hunters and outdoorsmen, lay the groundwork for future generations of outdoorsmen and women, much as it was laid for us. Take a stand for conservation, join the effort to pass on the wondrous gifts that nature offers in such vast quantities.