At the 2016 Dallas Safari Club (DSC) Convention’s Saturday night banquet in January, after volunteering and working in the hall for five straight days, my niece Logan (pictured above) popped the question. She asked, “I’ve been a hunter all my life, but most of the people I know are hunters. What do I say now, as a member of DSC, when people ask me how I can hunt and kill animals?”
Because lawyers and uncles are supposed to have all the answers, I dutifully began what I knew from the start was too long an answer. Before I was through a tenth of my explanation, the program started. Now I had time to think...and help through my analysis. First, Suzie Brewster, DSC’s 2016 Hunter of the Year and NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forummember, addressed the subject followed by Bernard Loze, president of the CIC (International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation). Both did an admirable job making the case. To Logan’s credit, she listened thoughtfully and, from her comments and feedback, I knew she got it. Though I’d been given a reprieve, the question haunted me for days as I wondered how to explain it succinctly.
As a nation, America has many challenges. One of those challenges is to define for a new generation who we are. The same is true for the DSC and the many like-minded hunting and conservation organizations. Are we conservationists? Are we hunters? Are we both of these at the same time?
Hunter preparedness begins with knowing how to answer these questions and articulate your response. So as for why I hunt, after much thought I can tell you.
I hunt because I love animals.
I hunt because I love wildlife.
I hunt because I want to support the survival of all wildlife species and because ethical hunters are the very best conservationists on the planet.
I hunt because the dollars spent on hunting are the biggest river of life supporting the survival of all species. Hunting dollars are the Nile, the Amazon and the mighty Zambezi rivers all in one.
I hunt because hunting dollars are so vastly greater than non-hunting conservation dollars and recognize that entire species will disappear without hunters’ collective funding.
I hunt because hunting dollars support and maintain wildlife habitat.
I hunt to help the life of one animal save the lives of dozens.
I hunt because life is ultimately always followed by death, and the best death in nature is from a well-placed bullet or arrow on a mature animal.
I hunt because some animals must die every year to feed people, and I trust true sportsmen to make good decisions about which one lives and which one dies to support a species long-term survival. For that same reason, I support organizations that establish and promote ethical hunting.
I hunt because if my hunting dollars do not support the people that live with the wildlife, they will hunt wildlife heavily. When their children are crying from hunger, they will kill the animal in front of them to meet their immediate need and they may not take a long term view for the survival of the species.
I hunt because hunters’ dollars accomplish more to stop poaching than anything else, and poaching is a huge threat to many species.
As an ethical hunter and member of the DSC, I’m proud that every single thing we do supports conservation.
You’ll face a number of important questions in life. Who and what do you love? Why do you hunt? Think about it. If conservation is the goal, how else can we communicate that ethical hunting is the answer? Sharpen your mind. Shorten your answer. And remember: As Suzie Brewster reminded us, in the words of U.S. President, hunter and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
[Original version published in the Dallas Safari Club’s monthly newsletter, DSC Camp Talk]