This is the story of my Rocky Mountain Elk hunt in the White River National Forest of Colorado. I’ll remember this trip forever, not just because it was with my Dad, but because of the way I felt when all was said and done.
By Eric Dinger
It was a normal June day at the office when I received a call from my friend, Josh Dahlke, the man behind the Scoutlook app, and host of the internet show The Hunger. Josh had booked a Colorado elk hunt and two of his four guys had backed out. He asked if I’d like to come along and bring a friend.
I don’t have a long bucket list, since I pretty much want to go everywhere and do everything, but hunting elk with my Dad had long been the one thing I could name. I’d always claimed I wanted to do so with my bow, but I was happy the opportunity had finally come. Given the hunt was to be largely a public land endeavor and the price to stay in the small private cabin adjoining the White River National Forest near Buford, Colorado was really palatable, I jumped at the chance. Getting my Dad to come along wasn’t hard, though he would have to leave for a week in the middle of harvest. For an ag man, that’s certainly not ideal timing. A bucket goes dry if the man carrying it waits for that mythical time. Continue reading A Father-Son Elk Hunt→
We live in an extremely fluid world where public perceptions and opinions on issues can change by the hour.
Just because hunting has been around for 90 percent of human history doesn’t mean that it will be around for the next 50 years. We cannot take our rights for granted. Preaching to the choir will not save hunting; we must influence others outside our circle to further our message.
If we want to preserve the proud traditions of hunting for future generations, we must expose and mentor those generations to the most basic of human behaviors. Here are a few places to start.
1. Become a Hunting Mentor
Though I spent lots of time at the shooting range as a kid, I grew up without exposure to hunting because there was no one to take me out and teach me the ropes. Not every child has a parent who hunts or has the time to be a good mentor.
Whether you mentor your own children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or just a family friend or neighbor, you can do your part in passing along your knowledge and enthusiasm to another generation of hunters. Taking someone hunting just once could be life-changing for that individual—and you’ll never know whether they’re interested if you don’t ask.
My own kids are too young to take hunting at this time, but I still bring them along when I’m scouting for sign or checking trail cameras. They enjoy the time spent with Dad and are gaining an understanding of the connection between the outdoors and the food on their plates.
We have all heard the controversy surrounding Facebook and their censoring of conservative news and photos involving guns & harvested animals, but would you be surprised to hear that Mark Zuckerberg himself is into hunting and fishing? Take a look at the video below of Mark Zuckerberg taking live questions from viewers while smoking some meat on the patio.
We all love animals. But some of us live in the real world, where each disaster gets cleaned up after the internet outrage tornado blows through. Those of us who use our dollars, our backs, and our brains to conserve wild animals and wild places know this story well. For those who have never purchased a hunting or fishing license and took the liberty to bash hunting, this video is for you.
A Conservationist’s Cry is a video put together by people and organizations in African whose livelihood is tied to hunting – the livelihood that you, the anti-hunter, have decimated. And, if you don’t care about the people and only care about the animals, there’s a horrifying ending just for you.
If, after watching the video, you still don’t believe hunting plays a vital role in conservation, try this:
Ask your Grandpa how many deer there were in his area of the country when he was a kid. How many are there now?
Or, think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember the amount of geese living in your area that you see now?
Hunters and anglers do the real world work of conserving wild animals and wild places. If you want to join in our effort, all you need to do is purchase a hunting or fishing license. Think of it like a membership in the club of people getting things done for the animals and places we both love.
It’s been said you’re either a part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.
Do you love the outdoors? Are you willing to spend 2-3 minutes per week ensuring your way of life lives on into the next generation? If so, you’re the person we’re looking for to become our next Digital Mentor.
We get it. Mentoring can be tough. Life is busy; there are so many demands on your time.
But, why should you care about spending a couple minutes a week passing on our outdoor traditions? Why spend the time helping new people?
The math is clear. Each year that passes the average hunter ages nearly 10 months. Today the average license buyer is about 42 years old. By the age of 68, license purchases fall to nearly zero. At the present pace, we’re only one generation from participation in the outdoors reaching alarmingly low levels. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Digital Mentoring via the free Powderhook app, made possible through a partnership with Cabela’s and Pass it On – Outdoor mentors, is one way we can work together make the kind of change we need. Only you, the individual outdoorsman, have the ability to make it happen. No agency program, no event planned by an organization, and no ad campaign from a company can do what you can do with just a couple minutes a week.
If you don’t approve of hunting, for whatever reason, I want you to know I appreciate you taking a minute to read this letter. My intention is to offer a couple facts about hunting you may not know. I don’t expect to change your mind altogether, but I do hope to provide some information that may create a more informed conversation.
You’re right. Our civilization has changed such that many people no longer need to directly participate in the food chain. Cities of us can go to grocery stores for the food we once grew or killed for ourselves. So, why then does hunting still matter?
You’re right. All living things have value. Animal lives matter, and that’s all animals, not just the one whose hair is stuck to your shirt right now. If that’s true, how can someone argue killing an animal is not only justified but important?
“We have to do this,” Blaine Cooper told me in a rush. “The BLM lit a fire to burn this ranch down because they want the uranium that’s under it! The left blew up buildings, killed people, enslaved people to make this wildlife refuge!”
Cooper was sitting behind the wheel of a white pickup, heater blasting, and talking to me through the open window. It was the middle of last January, maybe 12 degrees above, here at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, with day just breaking over a universe of frost-whitened sagebrush and 6 inches of old snow.
Background checks are already a thing. Expanding them is pointless.
This is the first of a 3-page document, Form 4473, entitled ‘Firearms Transaction Record.’ Every law-abiding citizen in the US fills this form out, awaits processing by the seller, and receives approval from the Federal Government to purchase his or her weapon before they can leave a store with a gun. The story that they’re not wide-reaching or all-inclusive is a myth. Most lawful gun owners have no problem with this process and see it as a meaningful way to keep guns out of the wrong hands. But, lawful gun owners aren’t the problem. The problem is the system that sits behind this paperwork is flawed, has loopholes, and fails to punish the criminals who don’t use it. More encumbrance on lawful individuals is absolutely not the way to keep the unlawful from having guns. That’s like lowering the speed limit because some people speed. Let’s encourage our lawmakers to start discussing real solutions.
The anti-hunting movement has overwhelmed the consciousness of the hunting industry. Hunters, hunting land, firearms, and the sporting way of life are under attack politically and socially. Millions of hunt-able acres are shut down in Oregon to protect the spotted owl. Lead ammunition is banned in California. Increasingly legislators, not biologists, are making wildlife management decisions. Professional huntress Melissa Bachman receives threatening messages to this day, over a year removed from the day she posted her now-famous lion photo. A deceptive foe, the Humane Society of the United States, seems to gain momentum even in the face of science, ethics and reason. The negativity and pressure has taken its toll, leaving industry leaders frustrated and searching for answers. A way of life once mandatory to sustain life is now fighting for its own life.
According to John Frampton, industry veteran and leader of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, “we’ve got to do something drastic or hunting as we know it won’t exist for future generations.”