Today I am going to write about something that will probably be somewhat controversial, at least to some people, but the fact is that we as campers share the wilderness with many people, campers, boaters, fisherman, and yes, Hunters. We are coming up on the time of the year when they are the most active and widespread. Fall is the traditional time of year for hunters to harvest game animals. But some people do not understand them and why they do what they do. In fact, many people are downright fearful of them. They have been portrayed as drunken slobs wandering around the woods randomly shooting at anything. For most this is no closer to the truth than the portrayal of campers who have their campers duct taped together and spend weeks at a time in Walmart parking lots and dump their tanks down the storm drains. Both of these stereotypes have no relation to either group as a whole and are used to vilify the groups as a whole. We need to learn to put aside some of our differences and keep in mind our common goal, preservation and conservation of our wilderness and natural resources. As the song says "Why Can’t We Be Friends?".
Let’s look at some facts, as many have said that hunters were some of the first conservationists. President Teddy Roosevelt was know as the "Conservation President" and is credited for making Yellowstone a "National Park" (after it was set aside as a park by President Grant). He was a noted Hunter and Outdoorsman, but he is probably the single most important president as far as setting aside and protecting of the U.S. wilderness treasures. Below is a list of some of his accomplishments:
- 150 National Forests
- 51 Federal Bird Reservations
- 4 National Game Preserves
- 5 National Parks
- 18 National Monuments
- 24 Reclaimation Projects
- 7 Conservation Conferences and Commissions
Hunters and other Sportsman (as most prefer to be called) provide millions even billions of dollars to be used for conservation through the PITTMAN-ROBERTSON WILDLIFE RESTORATION ACT (please only click this link if you want to read a complete copy of the act, which I have to admit is like most government acts, long and boring); a more enjoyable and easier reading explanation of the act can be found at the US Fish and Wildlife Service site. This act provides for a extra tax that Sportsmen pay when they buy hunting related items. The monies from this act have enriched and helped protect natural resources all across the United States for many years now.
So now understanding that campers and others now are sharing the forest with sportsmen, what can we do to get along with and safely use the outdoors with them?
- First off, try to be seen during hunting seasons. Wear a florescent orange hat and/or vest. Also, the new florescent yellow/green stands out well.
- You do not need to make any loud noises or yell at them to let them know you are there if you are wearing florescent colors. Simply wave "Hi" and move to another area out of possible shooting range.
- If you see any evidence of illegal activities, please call 911 or your local fish and game department; Any true sportsman or camper should wish to protect the outdoors and illegal activities should not be tolerated.
- Remember they are people enjoying the outdoors just like you. "Why can’t We be Friends?" should be our motto.
The outdoors this time of year can be a magical place with the glowing fall colors and the hint of winter to come, so let us all use it safely and protect it for future generations. Someone once said "We don’t own the wilderness; we borrow it from our children". If we all work together to preserve it, it should still be there for the future generations.
Your Obedient Servant,
Gary Smith, Jr.