Brody and I are huge college football fans. When we are not hunting whitetails in the fall or during a lunch break back at the house or at the local bar, we are watching college football. What makes college football so great, and the exact reason people love the sport so much is because of the many great traditions. College Gameday every Saturday morning, Nebraska vs. Iowa every Black Friday (GBR!!!), Ohio State vs Michigan, Clemson and Howard’s Rock. The list could go on and on.
Hunting, like college football, has many great traditions. Open day of rifle season, hunting camps, gathering around the local deer check station to see how successful everyone was. And many traditions that are specific to a family or group of hunters. But are those traditions actually risking the future of hunting for the next generation?
For example Wisconsin recently put out a survey about possibly changing its 9-day gun season and questions about enacting a state wide ban on baiting to help prevent the spread of CWD in the state. The survey mainly saw opposition to both. (Read the article from Outdoor Life here… https://www.outdoorlife.com/story/hunting/wisconsin-deer-hunting-decline/)
The article mentioned above cited, and I agree, that hunters are traditionalists and don’t like change. I believe this couldn’t be any more true. Just from looking at several issues that have taken place here in Nebraska over the last few years I can definitely confirm that many hunters don’t want certain changes to take place, even if they benefit hunting's future, just because they refuse to change traditions. In short it is the, “this is how we have always done it,” syndrome.
As hunters we all get wrapped up in our traditions. Heck, I am sure there are certain things I would like to not see changed based on certain hunting traditions I have. But, I would like to at least believe if was for the betterment of hunting I would eventually before it. Say it was for better hunter recruitment or decreasing the spread of CWD, as mentioned earlier. For me it is hard to be against such things, because in the end we should all want what is best for the wildlife we are pursuing, and in general what is best for them is less disease, more hunters, because that means more money for conservation and many other changes.
For example if there are certain regulations that can take place to allow more people to get into the sport, even if it cost me a hunting tradition, they should probably be done. Say a reduced license cost, special season, or any other idea. I am not sure what those look like specifically, but we hunters should at least be open to them. We all at some point get caught up in the, “they are my deer” attitude.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. Heck, I know I don’t have them. But as a group hunters sometimes tend to separate ourselves into smaller groups. Rifle hunters and bow hunters, baiting and anti-baiting, mountain hunters and flatland hunters, and recently for some reason, saddle hunters and tree stand hunters. That is a dangerous place to be. We have all heard the quote about “a house divided.” We are stronger as a group and it is probably more important now than ever that hunters stand together. Even if that means we lose a few of our precious traditions.