Hunters Are First for Wildlife and First for Conservation
In a world where man is not on a playing field with the next fellow man, the outdoors brings balance. The outdoors brings perspective. The outdoors gives life to all who choose to participate in the life-giving heritage that follows it. And that’s where you’ll find the white-tailed deer.
The whitetail doesn’t care about what you drive, the size of your home or how much money you have. It doesn’t care about the brand of your bow, the caliber of your gun, or the preferred tactics you employ during the hunt. It merely wants to evade you until season’s end. And the best news of all — deer are deer. And they’re just as difficult to hunt for all who choose to pursue them.
So why do it?
Hunters live this lifestyle for many reasons. Primarily for the rich, healthy venison that’s free from preservatives, hormones and other non-natural substances. We also hunt for the adventure. We love the hunt. It’s in our blood. It’s what we do and who we are.
We also hunt because we love the game we pursue. On the surface, that might be confusing for those who aren’t accustomed to the hunting lifestyle. It might even be hard to comprehend until experienced firsthand. How can you love something you plan to kill and eat? While I’ve long struggled with how to respond to that question. In a way, it’s almost beyond words. Beyond description and the capabilities of the English language. The emotional presence of this undeniable truth, that we love the white-tailed deer with a surreal affinity, is without a doubt one of the strongest bonds in all of the predator-prey relationships.
While we’d take the life of a deer to nourish our bodies, we’d just as quickly watch it walk away instead. We care for the well-being and conservation of deer throughout North America. And no one spends more money, time and energy to conserve them than hunters.
It’s hunters who called for the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC), which is revered around the world. It consists of seven principles:
Wildlife Is in the Public Trust: This means that wildlife belongs to and is owned by the people (the public) and is managed for the people by government agencies.
The Prohibition on Commerce of Dead Wildlife: Essentially, this declares it is illegal to sell the meat of any species of wild animal in North America.
The Allocation of Wildlife Is Governed by Law: Meaning that laws will regulate proper use of our wildlife resources.
There Will Be Opportunity for All: This declares that all citizens have the right and freedom to hunt and fish.
No Frivolous Use of Wildlife: This means we may hunt (under guidelines) for food, fur, in self-defense or for property protection. There must be no unnecessary waste of wildlife and wildlife parts.
Wildlife Will Be Managed by Science: All wildlife management decisions will be made based on scientific studies, reasoning and measures.
International Resources Receive Additional Protections: Migratory animals will be regulated by federal laws and international treaties.
As for finances, hunters are extremely giving of their time and money. Excise taxes on guns, ammo and other hunting and shooting sports products were advocated for by hunters in order to generate revenue for conservation — to the tune of 11 percent on all purchases. That alone generates $371 million per year. According to the RMEF, U.S. sportsmen generate $796 million a year for conservation programs via licenses and fees, and $440 million through donations. Other funds are generated in a variety of ways. But almost all of them are sportsmen-based.
Deer hunting has a storied heritage in North America. Its rich traditions have been passed down for centuries and is engrained in the very fabric of our culture. It’s pure. It’s natural. And those who try it, rarely turn from or disagree with it.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.