Do We Really Need A QUAIL FOREVER Conservation Group?

Recently the Minnesota-based Pheasants Forever conservation organization announced it was starting a separate division called Quail Forever.   The goal is to model the new group’s conservation efforts patterned after the successful fundraising experience learned through PF.

Sounds like a great idea…another conservation group…right?   I say wrong.   I happen to believe there are already too many groups competing for the sportsman’s pocketbook.   Just in paying membership dues alone the typical sportsman could invest hundreds of dollars annually to belong to groups that support the various facets of outdoors life that a sportsman might enjoy.   And that’s not to mention the fundraising banquets, etc.   I once added it up that I attended over 12 banquets a year…that’s averaging 1 per month.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think philanthropy as a sportsman is very necessary and proper activity…but what concerns me is the formation of another group vying for my hard-earned bucks.   Each group has overhead, office staff, etc. that are part of the normal costs of doing business.   And that’s not to mention the marketing efforts (and expense) that must be employed to coax those greenbacks from my pocket.

I personally feel that adding a new conservation group, such as QF, simply dilutes and further splinters the sportsman base.   I’m not familiar with the politics behind why Quail Unlimited and now Quail Forever are competing…but it did sound as if QF tried to merge with the long-established Quail Unlimited organization before announcing its formation.   So for now, there will be TWO organizations competing for the quail hunter’s money.

I suppose some might argue that this competition is not a bad thing.   Let’s face it, having choices is always nice.   But I worry if the motivation behind the upstart organization is always completely sincere.   I know for a fact that when you get into the board rooms and the marketing manager’s offices of these organizations it is the almighty dollar that drives and motivates the decisions.   Oh sure, wildlife is the constant focus and intended goal…but raising new funds and building organizational coffers is of paramount concern.   And I make this blanket statement and believe it to be true with nearly every organization that exists soliciting the sportsman’s dollar.

Here’s the deal and it’s a deep-rooted human urge that sportsman need to master by gaining some control on.   The urge is we all like to feel a sense of “belonging” with a group of likeminded folks.   Take for instance a group of volunteer firefighters for a small town.   I can guarantee you it is feeling a sense of belonging and purpose that makes them a close-knit department willing to risk their life for what they believe is necessary.   Same goes with members of a local fraternal lodge…the same sense of belonging enables these groups to thrive and gain membership.

Don’t think for a moment that conservation groups are not keenly aware of this human trait.   Most, if not all, will tailor their marketing efforts to foster this desire to belong to their group.   And hey, for the small price of a couple boxes of ammo…a sportsman can begin boasting their affiliation with an organization by displaying window stickers on their truck’s bumper or back window.   This scenario happens thousands of times daily in all areas where sportsmen are known to exist.

But let’s get back on track with my original premise…and that being that we don’t need more conservation groups established.   My point is we need quality groups with a demonstrated focus of their efforts.   That’s not to say that given 10 or 15 years from now QF might become a solid voice for quail hunters.   In fact, given the history of the folks at PF that is a very likely prediction.

My contention is sportsman should not blindly belong to organizations without asking questions of why.   Find out what the organization’s long-term goals are…discover how the money you spend is personally helping the way you fish or hunt.   Look at the organization’s structure to determine its conservation expenditures are in line with what it spends administratively.   There needs to be a balance.

When sportsmen begin to demand MORE from their conservation groups it makes these existing groups more responsive to the membership base.   It also ensures that the money being spent by the individual sportsman is going to a good cause that has a solid purpose to enrich the sport.

If you think more is better when it comes to conservation affiliations…then book your calendar full with as many banquets (and conservation memberships) as you can possibly afford.   But if you’re more like me, the older you get the more careful you are with the money you have to spend.   Indeed, there’s lots of worthy causes out there deserving of our support…but we must realize that budgetary limitations require that we be judicious in determining which ones are truly necessary.

© 2005 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.