It is hunting season and in the coming months about a million Texans are going to be chasing deer, ducks, quail, geese, turkey, javelina, wild pigs and who knows what.
A bunch are going miss a few shots, others are going to be on target.
Inevitably pictures of this and that are going to end up on social media. That is great. If I were to get my first deer, a quality deer, the biggest pig in the pasture or a ton of geese I would be right there with you.
But do me, yourself and every other hunter a favor, post the picture, but take just a second to explain how good of a time you had with family and friends on the trip and more importantly how you look forward to a wild game dinner or that you plan to donate the meat to someone less fortunate.
I wish this was my idea, but to be honest I was tipped off to it by African professional hunter Ivan Carter. You may have seen his show, Ivan Carter’s W.A.R. on television.
Carter is at the forefront of getting the word out about what is good about hunting. In his case it is normally about Africa where he sees regulated hunting as an important tool in the war against poaching.
He has also seen the kickback from non-hunters who all they see or know about African hunting is the picture of a hunter with a wide grin next to their trophy. They don’t know that in many cases these are animals past their prime that can be taken without hurting the population, that the meat is going to go to feed local villages and that the hunt creates jobs, the last two being keys to reducing poaching in Africa.
It is a little bit of a different situation here. Texas is overrun with white-tailed deer and wild pigs, but there is still a misconception about hunters and hunting. Few who do not hunt or are against hunting know or, in the case of anti-hunters, care to admit the role hunters have and continue to play in conservation.
To be honest I don’t care what anti-hunters think. I am not going to change their mind any more than they are going to change mine. Besides they are a small minority of the population.
It is the non-hunters, the majority of people in this country, who make a difference. They have always supported hunting as long as it has not been strictly for trophies.
They need to understand it is hunters’ licenses and sales tax dollars that underwrite state wildlife agency budgets and that it is local spending that helps small towns survive.
Lease fees help landowners pay taxes on their property, maybe allowing them to keep it when cattle prices are down.
Those lease dollars also give the wildlife an economic value that helps the landowner make the decision to leave wildlife habitat on the land when it might otherwise run counter to what is best for livestock or farming.
Those who do not hunt also need to know that hunting time is something special. It is a great chance for parents and their kids to bond and for old friends to get together to tell the same old stories again.
Let them know how much you enjoyed the sunrise or the sunset. How much wildlife and songbirds you saw and how few cars you heard.
Then there is the issue of what happens to the meat. It would be nice to say that hunters eat everything they kill.
The truth is they don’t. That does not mean the meat has to go to waste. There are official programs like Hunters for the Hungry and those unofficially operated by a small town church that can get the meat to those in need. Someone always knows someone who can use high quality protein.
For those who are wild game cooks, good or bad, let everyone know.
Whether it is gourmet venison burgers or duck a l’orange, let people know you are just as proud cooking it as you were killing it.
Locavore, food sourced locally, is a popular thing and what can fit the definition better than taking it yourself so you know how it was handled from the field to the table.
Times are changing in America and Texas. Hunter numbers are holding up, but our percentage of the total population is slipping. It doesn’t take but a couple of seconds more to also post a picture of the sun coming up, a cardinal perched in a tree, kids sleeping in the blind, deer passing by or supper cooked over a fire so those who do not hunt get to enjoy what hunters see.
There was a bumper sticker a few years back that read I Love Animals, I Am A Hunter. Promote hunting for its future.
Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at email@example.com. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at Texas AllOut doors and on Twitter @txalloutdoors.