Millions of Americans feel the tug to participate in what may be the ultimate interaction with the natural world: Hunting. For many hunters, it’s a time for sharing long-established traditions with family members and friends. Those who are successful in their hunts will stock their freezers with nutritious, locally obtained meat. Many also will share their bounty with food pantries to provide meals to the less fortunate. All will gain from the experience.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation published the following list of ways to maintain hunting traditions. It’s a good reminder for newcomers, experienced, and inactive hunters alike on how to establish or re-establish good traditions this hunting season.
Go hunting! It’s sounds simple, but the activity itself, whether you successfully take game or not, is a senses-heightening, fulfilling experience.
Share your hunting experience with friends and family members–whether afield, in hunting camp or by introducing a newcomer to hunting at.
Share a game meal at your table, a great tradition made sumptuous because the harvest and hunt coincide at this time of year. Today many people are making an effort to use sustainable, locally acquired foods, something hunters have practiced for a long, long time.
Tell your hunting stories. Write them down. Take photographs and videos. Post them online. Share your stories on social media or with an online photo album. Such records help keep your traditions alive.
Remind others that wildlife conservation is funded through the sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes paid on firearms and ammunition, a tax that hunters supported and Congress approved in 1937. Through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act), $6.8 billion has been collected for conservation. Another good post-hunt conversation can be about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, one tenant of which is that wildlife is held in public trust for the citizenry.
Use the firearm of your choice as long as it meets your state’s hunting regulations. These days more hunters, particularly younger hunters, are using modern sporting rifles based on the AR platform. If you prefer a wood-stocked, bolt-action rifle, that’s understandable, but support the choice of firearm made by others such as modern sporting rifles.
Set an example for ethical behavior. Before hunting, review your state’s hunting regulations; during your hunt, practice good sportsmanship. The public overwhelmingly supports hunting, but unsportsmanlike behavior by even a few hunters can tarnish the reputation of hunting in general.
Practice safety in the field, when traveling with firearms and when storing them at home. Practice the four firearm safety rules: Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to take your shot. Know your target and what lies beyond it.
Read more in the October 2015 issue.