It was a great day for all-American hunters to be in Washington, D.C., July 10, as representatives of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Safari Club International (SCI) and the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) gathered for an inaugural workshop fostering cooperation in protecting hunting’s future. Co-sponsored by the NRA and SCI, the meeting’s purpose was two-fold: to share results from a national survey funded by the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) assessing public attitudes toward hunters, hunting, animal rights and animal welfare; and to discuss ultimately using the data to launch coordinated communications strategies that will resonate with non-hunters and counter the messages put forth by anti-hunting, animal rights proponents.
Led by researcher Mark Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, whose firm conducted the NRA research, the workshop examined what the survey revealed: The majority of Americans support legal, regulated hunting. The consensus: Not only does the research pinpoint the cultural, technological and demographic challenges to hunting in the 21st century, but it provides insight on what the non-hunting public actually thinks about hunters and hunting—not what we think it thinks. Understanding critical key concepts from the research will ensure our collective messages are heard by non-hunters regarding hunters, hunting and wildlife conservation.
While having a general discussion is not the same as having plans in place, it is a sign that groups within the collective hunting community indeed are ready to work together based on common ground. Joining me in covering the bases for the NRA were Susan Recce, the director of NRA-ILA’s Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources Division; Don Chilcote, director of the NRA HLF; and Ward “Trig” French, who alongside NRA 1st Vice President Richard Childress, serves as co-chair of the NRA HLF.
The workshop was a follow-up to the presentation that the NRA asked Duda to make to the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, a network of 50-plus non-governmental organizations (NGOs), at an NRA-sponsored breakfast during the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Norfolk, Va., in March. The ongoing synergy between like-minded organizations continues to show just how much we collectively can accomplish in the spirit of protecting our mainstream way of life.