by Makayla Scott - Thursday, December 10, 2020
I'm Makayla Scott, a 17-year-old avid shotgunner and outdoorsman from Alvon, W.Va. I was introduced to shooting sports at the age of 12, and it has changed my life. For that reason, my passion in life has been spreading the opportunities I have discovered over the last five years.
I went from a shy little girl that couldn't find herself or her place in the world to a sponsored shooter, world record holder, and college student on a shooting scholarship. I started out shooting sporting clays, and it led me to enjoy hunting. It wasn't long until I was hunting in my backyard and even traveling with my sponsor CZ-USA to Kansas pheasant hunting out West, an experience I would have never had without shooting sports. Since then, my love of the outdoors has grown. While I love to hunt to put food in the freezer, I have gained a new respect for nature. Through hunting, I have learned the importance of hunting and conservation. Before, I didn't understand how conservation could have anything to do with hunting. It's something I learned right on our farm.
I love turkey hunting, but our turkey population has dropped to nearly nothing over the last few years. While we used to see flocks every spring, we only see a hen or two passing by. With no environmental changes in the area, I couldn't figure out why the turkeys were disappearing. While hunting with some friends on their farm this past spring, we came across several turkey nests that were raided, and all the eggs were eaten. I asked my friends what they thought would be doing this, and they told me their raccoon population was rampant. I thought to myself instantly I had found the turkey problem at our farm. Every hunting season on every trail camera I have ever put up was full of raccoons, sometimes as many as 10 or more in one picture. When I got home, I talked to my dad about raccoons affecting our turkey populations and what we could do to balance the populations. My father suggested trapping as an efficient way to control our raccoon population. He would tell me stories of him and his father trapping when he was younger. When I asked him why he didn't continue trapping, he said that since animal hide prices were so low, nobody traps anymore. This results in animals' rocketing populations that end up ruining other animals' populations, resulting in a devastated environment. If we genuinely care about our woods, animals, and earth, we cannot stand around and let this happen. This trapping season, I plan to control our raccoon population to save our turkey population.
I believe an essential part of getting the youth back in the woods is not just killing an animal. That is not what hunting is about. I want them to understand the importance of hunting as part of the conversation. Hunting is not about killing an animal but about taking the right animal to ensure our wildlife's future. Clay target shooting is one of the fastest-growing sports right now, and I hope to share hunting and trapping with this group of people and, hopefully, reach women and kids just like me, and spark their interest in the outdoors. Responsible hunting and trapping fill our freezers full of healthy food, ensuring a healthy wildlife population for the future.
About the Voice of Leadership Panel
Facilitated by James “Jay” Pinsky, editor of The Hunting Wire, and Peter Churchbourne, a director with the NRA HLF, the Voice of Leadership Panel (VLP) is an appointed six-member group of outdoor industry leaders dedicated to sharing their voices on key hunting and outdoor recreation issues to inform, inspire and educate the hunting community. Appointed for a one-year term, VLP panelists will address key hunting topics and provide leadership-based digital content to be featured on The Hunting Wire and the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website, NRAHLF.org.
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