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Modern day hunters, lifeblood of conservation

Observations on hunting and conservation by Lee Davis, Kittitas County Field & Stream Club President, 2011

by Lee Davis, Kittitas County Field & Stream Club President, 2011

Bighorn sheep in Toats Coulee, eastern WA
Bighorn sheep in Toats Coulee, eastern WA

Today, a hunter is no longer “just” a hunter. Modern day hunters have become dedicated conservationists representing a new standard of professionalism and dedicated to the conservation of the natural resources they so enjoy.

Only through much time and experience devoted to being outdoors and following the "hunters code of conduct" does this happen. 

In fact, modern day hunters are the "lifeblood" of conservation. They are the vessel through which most wildlife research, management, habitat restoration, and outdoor youth education is funded.

Imagine the consequences if the outlook and principles of the modern day hunter were not used as wildlife management tools!

Today’s modern day hunters are more than yesterday’s hunter/gatherers with a singular survival mentality. Instead, modern day hunters are conscientious, ethical sportsmen grateful of the opportunity and bounty that it provides.

Hunters have a unique understanding of the habits of wildlife and the physical and mental skills to succeed in the harvest. They must have a thorough working knowledge of the various game laws and species specific regulations, local restrictions and public/private land boundaries. They must be capable of identifying various game species that can be so similar it would require a field guide for the average citizen.

Duck hunting in eastern WA
Duck hunting in eastern WA

The modern day hunter has constantly varying situations where decisions to take a shot are determined by a multitude of factors. Proper identification, weather, terrain, time of day, proximity of roads, and other hunters and ethics are but a few. This requires exceptional patience, skill, and sound judgment.

Inconsistent hunting opportunities would not satisfy the instant gratification expected by most people who don’t hunt. Many times wildlife abundance is variable and modern day hunters do not measure success simply by the animals successfully hunted but by enjoying the opportunity and experience that hunting provides.

Modern day hunters must be agile physically, strong mentally, and have endurance that equals their patience.

What other outdoor recreational activity demands the physical stamina of standing, sitting, stalking, tracking, climbing, and observing game for hours, only to have an opportunity to harvest that is limited in time by seconds? Hunters will repeat this process for several days. Then, if they are fortunate, skilled, and successful in the hunt, they must cleanly process game in the field.

The hunt also occurs on rainy days, snow days, and holidays making it endless in nature yet impossible to put aside. The modern day hunter simply and deeply appreciates nature.

Read Conservation Northwest's position: Sportsmen, hunting, and fair chase
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