Putting a new style into hunting

Published 10:50 pm Monday, November 12, 2018

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few weeks ago as I was pondering some things about hunting, I came up with what I thought was a new word that is worthy of consideration.  That word was huntervationist.   It is an obvious play on the words hunter and conservationist. 

I soon found that the concept is not brand new.  I like it, and today I will share why I think it is worthy for all who enjoy the outdoors should consider the work of a huntervationist. 

When you think of a hunter what comes to mind?  When you think of a conservationist what comes to mind?  My guess is that when most think of a hunter you envision someone who goes out and kills animals for sport. 

My continued guess is that for most, a conservationist conjures up the idea of someone who is a steward of the environment.  Once again, I am guessing here, but I doubt very few people think of the two as one and the same.  I am one of those few. 

The ideas of hunting and conservation are not mutually exclusive of one another.  They certainly work hand in hand.  A good conservationist in the field of wildlife management knows this.  It is hunters that are responsible for helping them to keep both game species at an optimal level.

It is the conservation-minded hunter that harvests animals within the game laws so that we can do exactly that.  I would also take it a step further to say that a conservation-minded hunter makes decisions before the hunt and in the field that helps keep the species viable. 

This might be something such as harvesting a doe that is solo rather than one that has this year’s fawns with it.  Since that means the two fawns are more likely to survive with oversight from the doe.  The obvious issue with this is that most hunters are after trophies and not meat when it comes to most game. 

I believe in “to each their own” mantra, but at some point, most hunters must realize that the science proves that the harvesting of does is beneficial to the overall health and viability of the whole herd.  Harvesting does is a must, to do this properly. 

Another thing that goes along with this is the idea of checking the deer in.  Most hunters have known another hunter or two (or a dozen) that do not check their deer in.  This skews the population numbers in the statistical data.

When biologists take that data and make season dates, harvest amounts and more, the better the data, the better it is for the hunters.  It is imperative that hunters “call out” their fellow hunters when they hear of unethical practices being done.  Despite what some may believe natural resource entities (such as the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife) want hunters to have positive and rewarding experiences in the field. 

If hunters do our part to be stewardship-minded in the process, then we will continue to benefit greatly from the bountiful wildlife opportunities we have in our great Commonwealth.  I think it is why framers of our state constitution saw fit to declare Kentucky a commonwealth rather than a state.  Kentuckians are a great and wonderful people, and I include hunters in that grouping. 

Every animal we harvest plays a role in the overall health of the species, and our population as well.  We must consider this before we take that shot. 

I wish all the hunters who read this a continued successful hunting season.  Aim small, miss small.  Until next time, I hope to see you on, or off, the trail.

Craig Caudill is a lifelong resident of Winchester and serves as Director of Nature Reliance School. He is the author of Extreme Wilderness Survival, Ultimate Wilderness Gear and Essential Wilderness Navigation (April 2019).  Please feel free to contact Craig at info@naturereliance.org or through any of the various social media platforms available.