Sportsmen and women fund outdoor recreation’s future. Every time you buy a hunting license from state fish-and-wildlife agencies, the money goes to the state agency selling them. Likewise, each time you buy a hunting license and equipment, you contribute to state wildlife agencies and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Those groups use the funds for habitat restoration, hunter education, wildlife research, public-access programs and other high-priority national conservation projects.
As beneficial as these efforts and contributions are, they’re passive ways of protecting the sport and activity you love. To get more involved and actively do your part, do these 19 things, and you’ll simultaneously contribute to the future of hunting in America.
Bowhunters United is the nation’s premier bowhunting organization. By joining BU, you’ll help fight against anti-hunters, unfavorable bowhunting laws and regulations, and other bowhunting threats. BU works on your behalf to protect and defend your favorite pastime. Join now!
State agencies often email hunters surveys to complete regarding their season and hunting satisfaction. They’re easy to scroll by in a cluttered inbox, but sharing information regarding your season helps biologists and other state agency staff adjust hunting regulations to better protect habitats and wildlife populations, ensuring hunting opportunities exist for future generations.
If you’re passionate about bowhunting and practice safe, legal tactics, you can introduce others to the sport by becoming a mentor. Taking new people bowhunting is a fun, rewarding and sustainable way to keep hunting relevant. Plus, you’re creating the next generation of bowhunters who can keep the tradition alive.
If you care about the future of hunting, you must get involved. You can make a difference through hands-on habitat work. Volunteer to clean up public lands, plant native species, remove invasive species or work on other outdoor-related improvement projects, like wetland restoration or prescribed burns. Connect with your state wildlife agency or conservation organizations to learn about nearby opportunities.
Give financially to state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and wildlife foundations and federations. All these groups can combine donations to make funds go further and be more impactful.
If you prefer to get something in return when you give, look for a fundraiser that gives the proceeds to conservation programs or projects. For example, the National Wild Turkey Federation hosts numerous Conservation Cup Golf Scrambles across the country. People pay to play, and the funds funnel into habitat restoration projects. Look for similar opportunities, including fun runs and food fundraisers that benefit the outdoors.
Children rely on adults to make decisions and buy hunting-related items. If you know a child who comes from a nonhunting background but is interested in hunting, offer to sponsor them. Give the guardian funds or pay for the child’s hunter safety course, hunting clothes, license or equipment. Alternatively, some state wildlife agencies, like the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, allow people to sponsor a child interested in attending the department’s Conservation Camp. Look for similar opportunities near you.
Conservation organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or National Deer Alliance have annual events and banquets. Proceeds from ticket sales, raffles and auction items are put toward hunting and conservation efforts. Attend these events for a fun evening out while supporting your favorite pastime.
Many states allow residents to buy a special license plate that supports hunting and conservation. In Georgia, for example, there are six Georgia Department of Natural Resources license plates. Regular license plates cost $20, and the special GDNR plates cost $25 extra. According to the website, 80% of that $25 goes directly to wildlife programs.
Stories have the power to shape how someone views bowhunting. You could share how you started bowhunting, a memory from a favorite hunt, a start-to-finish tale of adventure or a short glimpse into your life as a hunter. Whatever you share, choose your words carefully and focus on hunting’s benefits.
Go to meetings and public hearings hosted by state or local representatives to voice your concerns and support for regulations and policies that affect wildlife, hunting and bowhunting.
You can also share your thoughts by writing letters to state and federal lawmakers. Help them understand where individual hunters stand on important outdoor-related issues or proposed legislation. Then, encourage them to take action or vote favorably on behalf of hunters.
You can vote favorably, too. Do your homework and research how candidates feel about hunting, public lands and other conservation-related issues. Know who supports or opposes the issues that matter most to hunting and vote accordingly.
In addition to Bowhunters United, most conservation organizations help preserve wildlife and their habitats, while also protecting and promoting values for taking game legally and ethically. These groups and individual conservationists also lobby lawmakers to benefit wildlife and preserve hunting’s future by enhancing the nation’s natural resources.
Only 4% of the American population hunts, meaning the other 96% actively watch, analyze and critique what hunters do at home and in the field. You must represent hunting positively online and in person. That means tactfully talking about hunting, carefully transporting your harvest and advocating for hunting.
Poachers put hunters in a negative light. Follow all hunting rules and regulations to ensure the public sees hunters acting responsibly. Even if there’s no rule about where to dump a carcass, don’t leave it anywhere people might be disgusted or offended. Always be mindful of the impression you leave. It will impact the future of hunting.
Whether someone hunts with a gun or a bow or one time or 100 times, they’re still a hunter. As long as other people participate legally, acknowledge and support them. We’re all in this together.
You might know how hunters give back to — and get involved with — conservation, but your nonhunting peers might not. Spark a conversation and share all the ways hunting is good for wildlife and the environment.
Don’t stop there. After informing nonhunters about hunting’s benefits, ask and encourage them to support hunting. We need their support, approval and votes from the nonhunting community if we want to continue hunting.
The more you do to protect hunting (and its traditions), the more likely these opportunities will exist for future generations.