The Gift of Hunting
We appreciate the gift of hunting year-round from ducks to turkeys and small game to deer, elk, and everything in between. This year, a year where we have seen a surge of interest in hunting, why not give back to the sport that gives you (and your freezer) such fulfillment! Here are some ways that you can give the gift of hunting by being a true wildlife conservationist. After all, it is great that we all buy our license to go hunting and contribute to the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Fund, but that is the bare minimum.
Buy someone a license – You may have to jump through a couple of hoops since you need their personal information, but you can always give them a homemade coupon good for one license and a lesson!
- Give someone a hunting trip. You don’t have to take them to your top-secret honey hole, but you can show someone who is curious what it is all about. All you need to do is offer. Especially after this year, people want to learn how to be more self-sufficient.
- Gift some meat. This one might be a little painful, but the best gifts should hurt a little. Invite someone over for a wild game dinner or offer someone some meat along with your favorite recipe. Tell them where the meat came from, that it is free range, grass fed, organic, and as healthy as it gets. See if a taste of the outdoors sparks an interest.
- Gift someone a shooting lesson! It might be a little hard to find ammo these days, but one thing I have seen on the shelf is shotgun ammo. Hunters have shotguns and friends to teach the love of recreational shooting. Once you hit one of those clay pigeons, you’re going to want to do it again. Guaranteed.
- Archery shooting is a great gateway gift! Got a person that is not so comfortable with firearms in your life? A good beginner step is archery shooting. Bows and crossbows are really fun to shoot and also give back to wildlife conservation.
- Give someone a membership to the outdoors! Lots of organizations out there for any passion someone might have with many offering discounted youth memberships and holiday discounts or other benefits. A few to think about National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Delta Waterfowl, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, National Deer Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Back Country Hunters and Anglers, or you state chapter of the National Wildlife Federation.
- Shop at stores that give back! A group called 2% for Conservation has a Christmas Guide Shopping List featuring products from retailers that give back at least 2% of profits to wildlife conservation. (2% website https://www.fishandwildlife.org). Beyond brands, there are tons of retailers that give back like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.
- Shop online for unique state gifts like these from Tennessee where all funds go toward wildlife conservation. Many state fish and wildlife agencies have these donation programs.
State of the Hunting:
In 1989, there were roughly 16 million licensed hunters. In 2010, there were 14.4 million hunters and wildlife agencies started to see their funding decrease with fewer hunters and anglers buying licenses. Keep in mind that over this same period the population of people in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds. Up until 2019, this picture just gets worse.
Now we’re back in an upswing since the beginning of 2020. It is a small bright spot in all the bad that has come with this pandemic. We have had a rush of people to the outdoors and either return to hunting or begin hunting. License data from states puts the number of hunters for 2020 a little over 10% increase since 2019 which is really great news! For wildlife conservation to continue and improve, we need to retain these hunters. You can help. When you show someone how to hunt, you are doing your part in keeping this tradition alive.
Jenifer Wisniewski is the Chief of Outreach and Communication Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.