Plant the Seeds of Giving Back

To ensure the 'harvest' at the end of a hunt, we all have to plant the seeds that benefit wildlife and communities.

Plant the Seeds of Giving Back

Organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation help lead volunteer conservation efforts. Fundraising banquets and raffles contribute directly to these causes. (Photo courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation)

I’ll never know how many guns I haven’t won on raffle-ticket drawings at local duck-and-buck club banquets, but it’s way more than the firearms I’ve acquired in more conventional ways. But my lack of success doesn’t stop me. Every year, I peel off more $20s for a chance at a Mossberg or a Kimber or a Winchester.

I do it only partly because I want more guns. The main reason I attend these banquets, and optimistically contribute to these 1-for-$10, 3-for-$20 raffles, is to help raise funds for conservation, whether to put more ducks in the marsh, pheasants on the wing or public access improvements in elk country. I do it to share a meal of rubber chicken (or double-tough steak) with fellow hunters, happy in the knowledge that we can do a lot more and larger good works together than alone.

GivingBack
Photos courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation

In that way, I’m expressing one of the characteristics of a sportsman. We all give something back to the activities that enrich us. Our actions behind the trigger or bowstring may take ducks from the marsh or elk from the mountain, but our actions in the off-season should also give back.

Purchasing a hunting or fishing license to help fund resource management is only a small part of our contribution. We also give back to the things that define us by helping local biologists with game surveys, by reporting poaching or suspicious behavior to game wardens, by advocating for local and national habitat and access projects, or by contributing $35 for an annual membership in a “critter” conservation group.


Find the best day and time to go hunting in your zip code

Or by participating in that gun raffle down at the Legion hall.


Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the successful conclusion of a hunt described as a “harvest” of game. It’s not a perfect term, largely because it implies that wildlife is a commodity that can be predictably reaped like a crop of wheat or soybeans, and if you’re like me, the best hunts are anything but predictable. But I like the term because it also suggests that the kill is the culmination of intentional actions. If we plant the seeds of cultural tolerance for wild places, social tolerance for the wild animals that depend on it, and political tolerance for the tools hunters require to pursue them, then the harvest of a deer or a duck or a trout is not only a logical consequence, it’s something to be celebrated as a quintessentially American product of hard work.

Bagging game not only closes the circle of life, but also the circle of purpose for those of us who contribute our time and funds to the things that enrich us.

GivingBack
Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

That circle has many beginnings, but it’s on each of us to find a way to start the arc. National conservation groups are only the most obvious and simplest places to contribute. How you give back is as personal as the way you hunt and fish. Maybe you volunteer your time and knowledge to teach hunter education in your hometown. Or maybe you help clean up a local stream, or participate as a citizen volunteer for a pheasant crow count or at a game check station. Maybe you are a landowner who opens your gates to hunters every season.

Anything you do that benefits wildlife and the places they require is an act of conservation, but there’s a larger beneficiary to these intentional acts of charity. They are noticed and appreciated by our larger communities, those friends and neighbors who may not hunt or fish themselves but who tolerate our ability to do it because they recognize its social, ecological and economic value. Anytime they see us giving back to wildlife, it confirms their sense that we are not a tribe of takers—taking deer from the forest or fish from the stream for our own use or egoistic satisfaction—but that we are givers and caretakers.


GivingBack
Photos courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

That’s the real benefit of conservation: healthier communities for people as well as wildlife. It’s something I consider every time I fail to win a gun raffle. I haven’t lost at all. I’ve won by contributing my money to a cause that’s much bigger than myself and my own interests. Just as the power of compounding interest builds monetary investments, every time we contribute to conservation, we enlarge our ability to continue to hunt, fish, own guns and recreate on the public’s land.

Click to subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

That’s why, as much as I want to win that banquet gun, I clap hard for the person whose raffle ticket is drawn. I clap because I know a gun is a lot more than metal and wood. It’s a seed that will culminate in a harvest that benefits us all.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

Humminbird Mega 360 Imaging Sonar

Humminbird Mega 360 Imaging Sonar

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Berkley

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!

Texas Turkey Hunting With a Spring "Twist"

Lynn Burkhead - April 27, 2020

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!

 Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin 30.30 Stories

Grandpa's Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human Stories

Coyotes In Suburbia

Stephen D. Carpenteri - November 30, 2016

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now