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When I hear the word activism I usually cringe. Like many of you I picture someone who has probably been labeled a hippie of sorts by most of middle America. They are usually touting some cause, likely one I don’t agree with. The question then is this, if hunting is conservation does that make me an activist?
After a little thought, I think that it does make me an activist. In fact I am not even a silent activist, I put my money behind three lifetime memberships for various hunting and 2nd Amendment non-profits that I believe in. I did my due diligence, made sure I supported their causes and methods and signed on the dotted line. Those memberships give my organizations of choice political clout to fight for things like access to land for hunting, gun rights and even the pull to stop bad tag allotment ideas and management practices.
Of course there are more ways to get involved and be an activist for hunting conservation. My schedule as a business owner dictates how much boots on the ground, hands in the dirt-type of work I can do and that isn’t much. For some hunters, getting out and working in the field for wildlife conservation is a way of life and a great family activity. It never ceases to amaze me how many people jump at the chance to help with habitat improvement and the great work they do.
It goes even deeper than that. Hunters put boots on the ground for conservation every time we buy a rifle, a box of ammo or a hunting tag. Wildlife management is primarily funded in most states by the people buying the tags. In fact in my home state of Wyoming the game and fish is self funding, they don’t get money from the general fund. The quotas that dictate tag numbers have to be put together by people who have built careers in wildlife management. By buying tags we are funding the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
Our money over the last 125 years has grown elk populations from 40,000 in North America to well over 1,000,000. The numbers are even better for whitetail, and waterfowl are now doing historically better than the long term average across the board.
Other people have made protecting hunting and 2nd amendment rights their career. Here in North America we have a very rich history of growing game numbers and a conservation model that I feel is the best on the planet. Organizations like Safari Club International have made it their mission to make sure that the access, support, and rights we have in North America are even happening in places like Africa. Their motto is First For Hunters, which means defending me here in the states or my ability to give value to animals at a small hunting concession in rural Africa.
This year as I get ready for show season, including the 45th SCI Hunters’ Convention in Las Vegas the first week in February, it is easy to remember the value of what we do for conservation. This year SCI expects over 24,000 people to attend and every year they raise 70% of their funding for conservation, Hunter Advocacy, Humanitarian Services and Education. Attending conventions and shows like this does make a difference. This show is very unique and unlike any other gathering of hunters in the world.
The power we have working together as activists for hunting rights has a broad impact for the better. Keep funding conservation by buying tags and supporting organizations like SCI! I hope to see you there, it is one of the funnest shows I attend each year.
Ike Eastman is the President of Eastmans’ Publishing and oversees the daily operations of Eastmans’ Hunting TV, Eastmans’ Hunting and Bowhunting Journals, Eastmans’ Live Events including the Trophy Deer Tour, films in the fall and is hands-on in all facets of the company. Ike’s hunting knowledge and expertise has been shaped by more than 25 years of pursuing trophy big game across most of North America.