An all time classic. Game 7 ended about 8 hours ago. In a stroke of genius, or terrible parenting, I woke up my kids (ages 3 and 5) to tell them – on the off chance they’ll remember the night back in 2016 the Cubs won the World Series. I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was a little boy watching Ryno Sandberg on WGN in South Dakota. They were always my second favorite team behind the Twins until my best buddy moved out to Chicago for college and we caught our first game at Wrigley.
I know what you’re thinking… sweet story dude, but why the heck does this matter in a story about hunting?
The World Series and Major League Baseball gave hunting a bunch of free lessons last night. And not just last night, but during every major series I can remember.
Baseball has an aging fan base. Same for hunting. Baseball is the game that reminds us of days gone by – of watching with our Dad or Grandpa, of Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, or Kirbeeeeeeee Puckett. People I hunt with often describe the same type of nostalgic feelings about places they’ve hunted, of annual trips with family, of the whitetail deer or the wild turkey. Baseball fandom and hunting are driven by local customs and regional culture.
Here’s what we can learn:
1 – My kids will never get to feel last night’s win, because they weren’t able to be a part of it. We remember and care about what we feel, not what we learn. Don’t just teach people about hunting. Do your best to make sure your kids – and all kids you care about – along with adults in your life get to feel hunting.
2 – There is immense joy in sharing a passion with others. Watching Chicago bars full of people hugging late last night should remind hunters that we’re all in this fight to grow our way of life together. Strangers hugged strangers. Black people high-fived white people. The Cubs brought people together in the way hunting should bring people together. It’s not necessary that all hunters do things the same way, or that we look the same. Bow or crossbow, black, brown or white, that we share a love of hunting should supersede our nuanced differences.
3 – Traditions matter. It was so fun to see fathers and sons at the game. It was cool to see General Manager Theo Epstein’s son with him in the second row. Plan a trip and commit to it every year. Hunt opener on the same public ground, make a deer camp on a lease – find some people you like and grow old sharing an experience. You’ll go 108 years without making it happen if you don’t just plan it and do it.
4 – Baseball fails children. The games are simply started too late, and the short-term profit from primetime ad revenue is a terrible excuse. It’s imperative that we keep focusing on the long term when it comes to growing hunting. Youth programs, apprentice licenses, online hunter-ed – these are just the tip of the iceberg of what it’s going to take to continue to make hunting relevant to future generations. Can every kid under 16 hunt for free nationwide? Can we make buying a license a single click of a button on a smartphone? Can we reward hunters for making new hunters? Let’s not start our game too late.
5 – The bandwagon is real. I found out half my newsfeed loves the Cubs. Strangely, I found out the same thing about the Royals last year. Hunting is a good and pure way of life. Things good and pure are coming back into style. Let’s ride the momentum driven by locavores, the cultural calls to get outside more often, and popular desire to get more exercise. Next time you share a hunting photo, tell the story of the food. Talk about the great exercise or the deep connection you felt to your outdoor place. Teach people that all they need to do to jump on our bandwagon is buy a license and go.
About the Author:
Eric Dinger is the founder of Powderhook, the outdoor help desk app. Powderhook is a social support network for people who love the outdoors, or think they might some day. Get the app at www.powderhook.com.