August 29, 2013

New Hunters Not Joining Habitat-Protection Groups?

Hank Shaw, author of Hunt Gather Cook and the forthcoming Duck Duck Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild, worries that too many "locavore" and "adult-onset" hunters are failing to join conservation groups like Duck Unlimited or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that protect wildlife habitat.

Is it a culture-war sort of thing?
There is a myth among new hunters that long-time hunters merely eat the choicest bits of an animal, leaving the rest to rot — if they eat the animal at all. I freely admit I used to think this way, a decade ago. While I’ve never had a problem getting along with people of all political stripes — I was a political reporter for nearly 20 years, after all — I certainly held my nose high when I heard about how this hunter or that angler cooked his or her quarry. But as I met more and more “traditional” hunters, and actually listened to them, I began to realize that even though they might not make a liver creme caramel from that whitetail they just brought home, they might still just cook up that liver in some butter, or grind it into sausage. And isn’t that the point? To eat it, and not to waste. Everything else is aesthetics.
It is this culture clash that lies at the root of a much larger dilemma. In my experience, the vast majority of the new hunters, or as my friend Tovar Cerulli calls them “adult-onset hunters,” either have never heard of the various habitat organizations organized around the animals they seek, or reject them as right-wing old boys’ clubs.

This is a grave error.
He offers two reasons for joining. One is that most of these groups are efficient charities that put the majority of their money into programs, not into salaries and further fundraising. Second, by being part of the hunting or angling community, you learn stuff and make connections.

I could speak to both sides of this question. While I support Ducks Unlimited or RMEF, for example, with occasional checks, a big banquet hall full of people I don't know is not a comfortable experience for me, although I have been to a few.

If my only connection with people is shared waterfowling or trout-fishing, it's hard to stay enthused. (I was president of a Trout Unlimited chapter once, not necessarily a good one.)

So staying home and writing checks is my contribution, as it working some with smaller, locally focused groups, because I support what they do, even though I last attended a DU banquet in about 1996.

I noticed the comments to Shaw's post ended up deteriorating into Republicans-vs.-Democrats stuff. That is another grave error.


Stephen Olner said...

I think it has more to do with the economy right now. I have joined ducks unlimited and others in the past but when you have family to feed or other purchase a year’s subscription to 5 or more different organizations starts to get expensive.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I think a basic membership in Ducks Unlimited, for example, is $35/year. You would spend more than that on a tank of gas.

souggy said...

I find that a lot of the conservation groups, for example RMEF, tends to politicize things too much without any scientific findings to back their findings.

Not to mention in some of the organizations, there tend to be an anti-Republican or anti-Democrat attitude exhibited by the councils or the executives.

Steve Bodio said...

"That is another grave error."

Says a lot right there. I love the NM Wildlife Federation for trying to transcend this. Adult Onset types (nice phrase Tovar) ought to get over this-- the common ground is there. Look at history.Read blogs like Sometimes Far Afield, Home Range, and even mine. And Chas of course.