United, we win.
The more involved you get with something, the more frustrated you can become when priorities shift, you see behind that iron curtain and you lose sight of what’s important and made you get involved in the first place. It’s hard to get reenergized and motivated sometimes, especially when there are so many divides.
I have been partly amused and partly disheartened to read articles that my fellow outdoor writers have written about how they miss the ‘good ole days’ of hunting when women were home with the kids and not out in the woods. I hate to break it to you, but women are the only way that the next generation of hunters are going to take to the woods. WE are teaching our children why it is so important to hunt, know where your meat comes from and respect the entire field-to-table process. I don’t remember the ‘good ole days’ because I am too young, but I can guarantee you that I will do everything I can to make sure that my children are comfortable seeing a dead bear, deer or turkey and know exactly how it was killed and how to cook it. I already have a three year old who says he is going to use his bow and arrow to take a bear (followed by a moose and deer) because he loves the meat. It is unfortunate that instead of embracing the growth we are seeing with girls and women taking up hunting, trapping and shooting sports, there are some who miss the days when we were in the house instead of in the woods.
For the past 18 months or so, I have been helping the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council to raise funds to build a war chest to prepare us for the next referendum. In 2014, it took all sportsmen and women in and out of Maine, outdoor organizations across Maine and a chunk of support from national organizations like the Sportsmen’s Alliance, in order for us to win a second time. If you get the MWCC newsletter or follow the Facebook group, then you know that we are looking at another fight on trapping and hunting with hounds very soon. If you have read my blog or my past articles, you know that I am a registered Maine trapper AND had a successful bear hunt with hounds. Even if you don’t participate, you should know how important both are to the outdoor industry and that we cannot afford to lose them in another ballot battle.
And speaking of those anti-hunting groups, for the past year or so, I have been helping to write the black bear species management plan with a handful of representatives from outdoor organizations across Maine and our incredible bear biologists. We have also had HSUS at the table with us. None of us came to the meetings thinking that we were going to change anyone’s opinion but that was not the point; our focus was only to come up with ways to keep our black bears healthy. We had some intense discussions and all of us brought some strong thoughts and opinions with us, but we were able to work together to create the plan and feel good about sending it to the Steering Committee.
All three of these examples prove that the only way sportsmen and women will continue to win and protect our outdoor heritage is by uniting. We can sometimes be our own worst enemies and we forget that we need everyone in this fight; bow hunter, rifle hunter, trapper, hound hunter, woman, man, meat hunter and trophy hunter… we all have something to lose if we don’t stay united and support one another.
As we prepare for 2017, let’s work on that; thanking and respecting every outdoors person because at the end of the day, we all love and care about the Maine woods and the animals here. We all want to keep doing what we have been fortunate enough to enjoy and we need one another to make that happen.