In the last sixty years or so, I’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors enjoying my time spent fishing and hunting.
Not once while out there, did I think what I was doing wasn’t right and the way things were in the “real” world!
As I became more active in the outdoors, I started reading more of the “so called” stories; those shows I’ve seen on television and in print that have made me wonder “Where did that come from?”
Some of it was just misinformation; others were small things that were blown out of proportion while some were just out right lies!
As America became more urbanized, our populations become more detached from the facts!
Growing up in Watertown, S.D., I knew where hamburger, pork chops and bacon came from and it was pretty obvious to me they came from an animal, and as my Grandpa Menkveld, a cattle buyer and owner of a small stockyard.
Back then no one that I knew needed to be told where meat came from, because we were close to the land not thousands of miles away from it in some huge city.
It’s truly unfortunate that today, there are many people who think these products come from the HI-VEE.
While others seem to believe that they come from some fast food chain like McDonalds, Burger King or Hardees, with some of these companies now offering Vegetable No-meat burgers.
Many of these are the same people when they hear the word hunting; get all bent out of shape about it!
I tell myself; maybe these folks have seen to many Winnie the Pooh movies where the animals are best friends, running around playing together.
I’m sure you know what I’m referring to, an animated movie where Tiger and the Piglet are best friends, now that’s a fairy tale.
In the real world, they’d be friends all right, just about as long as it took Tiger to gulp down that goofy looking Piglet.
One excellent example of this was the poor misinformed individual who went up north to make friends with and live with the brown bears; he filmed them, talked with them and got up close and personal with them!
When I first heard that this was happening, I didn’t believe it, who in their right mind would be dumb enough to go prancing around in an area filled with bears, one of the largest and nastiest predators, “Meat Eaters” in North America!
Sure there are times when you can get close to bears when they “might” not bother you, like when their in a zoo in a cage!
But there are times for example when the female is with her young, when the males are competing for females or when their hungry that you don’t want to be within a mile of them.
This individual thought that he’d figured out the bears and how the real wild world operated.
He was so confident; he brought his girlfriend up to spend some time with his friends, the brown bear.
Well, I’m sure you’ve heard or seen the final chapter in that story, his “friends” the bears killed and ate both he and his girlfriend.
You’d think they’d have enough common sense to avoid dangerous animals, but obviously they didn’t.
The real problem, as I see it is that these types of people don’t know any better; they grew up in a big city watching Yogi and BOO BOO bear and have never been exposed to anything in the wild.
They just don’t have a clue to where things come from and to what really happens in the wild!
I hate to say it, but we, the hunters are part to blame there are individuals, which know little if anything about wild animals, hunting and how things are in the wild.
Now don’t get all riled up, as it seems to appear that those of us who hunt and fish haven’t done the best job of promoting and explaining all we hunters do for the outdoors and our sport.
We need to do introduce and educate others about the sport of hunting and introduce them to the outdoors.
We need to mentor, letting others know that if it wasn’t for hunters, which were the first conservationists; we wouldn’t have many of wildlife we have today.
Hard to believe that hunters were the first to push for regulated seasons and to demand that they and others who hunted purchase licenses in order to enjoy the sport of hunting.
These license fees go to our state game agencies to fund programs that not only benefit hunters, but also those of you who enjoy other outdoor-related activities such as bird watching and hiking.
Activities such as these are enjoyed on areas developed by our game agencies and the dollars to purchase and develop them, came from no other than us hunters!
The hunters were also those that pushed for special taxes on our hunting gear and that this tax money would be distributed back to the states Game & Parks or DNR to fund numerous projects.
It’s also the hunting conservation organizations, funded by hunters helping to bring back numerous wildlife populations that at one time close to extinction because of unregulated commercial harvest and the loss of habitat.
These include the Wild turkey, Whitetail Deer and Canada geese, as well as many others, all that were on the brink of extinction.
Now these species can be found in huge numbers throughout North America.
The main reason for this is because of the conservation groups whose members, hunters who have stepped forward to help assure that wildlife will be there not just for themselves, but also for future generations
Sportsmen’s conservation groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited are just a few of the groups that have worked hard and long to establish habitat, helping to bring these animals back from near extinction.
These members, hunters have donated millions of dollars and hours, creating and developing new habitat for these species as well as all other species of wildlife.
It’s also a fact that hunters are a very important part of the wildlife management plan, helping to harvest excess animals from the population; those excess animals, if not harvested will put tremendous pressure on the rest of the wild animals.
There’re those that believe that if the animals are left alone that everything will work out.
Unfortunately, that’s not that way it works, as there’s only so much habitat (food, water and cover) in the world and once the wildlife numbers reach a certain point, they’ll literally eat themselves out of house and home.
Some believe “good” old Mother Nature will take care of it, but her way of doing this isn’t pretty and the word humane isn’t in her vocabulary.
When deer numbers get too high, she uses Blue Tongue and CWD to control the population. Blue Tongue is a disease that swells up the deer’s tongue and they die a very cruel death because they can’t swallow, dying of thirst.
CWD, which the Game & Parks and DNR are keeping close tabs on, occurs when bad proteins attack the brain, causing weight loss, loss of bodily functions and eventually death.
If waterfowl populations get too high, she uses fowl cholera to knock the population down where waterfowl die by the thousands.
Then there’s mange that affects the fur bearer population, in our area coyotes, those afflicted with this ailment literally scratch themselves to death.
There are numerous other diseases and afflictions that good old Mother Nature dishes out when wildlife populations get out of control.
As you can see, hunters play a very important part in the scheme of things.
Not only do we donate millions of hours and dollars to help support wildlife and those state and federal agencies that work hard to manage them, we also are a huge factor in helping to control the excess population.
If you’re a hunter, we need introduce kids to hunting, to be more vocal, to preach the gospel, letting others know the facts, what we do and all the time and dollars that our groups have given to assure those future generations are able to enjoy the sport of hunting, to assure there’ll be wildlife in the future, wildlife that can be enjoyed by both hunters and non-hunters alike!
Gary Howey (Hartington, Nebraska) is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster, and was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, outdoorsmenadventures.com and like Gary Howey’s Facebook page and watch the shows on the MIDCO Sports Network, News Channel Nebraska and beginning in April on KCAU-TV Saturdays at 11:00 as well as on the Outdoor Channels www.MyOutdoorTV.com.