While I’ve taken a break from blogging (see previous post) I haven’t stepped away from reading other outdoor blogs or following the current “hot-button” issues that surround us in the outdoors world. What suddenly occurred to me is the notion I think many of us fail to consider when we form our thoughts and opinions on the outdoors.
What is our ultimate goal (or what should it be)? Seriously, as a group of outdoor users what should we all be striving towards to accomplish in our outdoor pursuits? Mind you, I’m not talking personal goals here…I’m talking identifiable benchmarks we can collectively use to determine we’re achieving something good and proper for each of our various outdoor activities.
Let me provide an example. Yesterday I read on Facebook where someone posed the question should crossbows be used during the regular archery deer hunting season. In many states, and my home state of Minnesota being one of them, crossbow users are greatly restricted to use only during select times and/or by persons showing a doctor diagnosed disability.
Now, on one hand those individuals suggesting “yes” point to the fact that as a hunter ages it gets increasingly difficult to pull back on a bow, even today’s modern compounds incorporating marvelous engineering designs can still be too much for muscles enduring atrophy. Yet, traditional archers understandably have reason to limit an expansion of deer hunter opportunities leading to increased competition on a limited commodity.
So, we have a standoff between two factions of sportsmen each with a personal vested interest in rules being construed to their recreational advantage. Emotions over the issue build, eventually one side or the other starts to undermine the other’s stance with negativity, and suddenly sportsmen are at odds over a matter that should not even be occurring. Why? Because inherently we let selfish desires sway our thinking (and acting) due to the fact we’re all not operating toward an established outdoors goal.
Here’s another example. In Minnesota, like a growing number of states, we’ve been experimenting with various deer management principles involving antler point restrictions (or APR’s). The thought being if hunters are required to count a certain number of points on a buck to make it legal, this will help shift the buck population to one that is more mature, hence more trophies.
The problem is not everyone wants to deer hunt with those added restrictions. Indeed, one faction of hunters wants the DNR to mandate certain criteria to theoretically increase the number of trophy deer bounding through the woods. On the flip side are deer hunters who prefer doing things the traditional way allowing every hunter to determine what they consider to be a trophy. Bottom line…selfish personal desires place otherwise regular, agreeable sportsmen at great odds.
Okay, enough talk about a goal. Let’s establish a common goal among all sportsmen that should be widely understood as well as embraced. The goal needs to take “what’s best for me” out of the equation. The goal needs to be so ridiculously simple that everyone understands it. The goal needs to resonate and become woven into the fabric of everything we do, henceforth, when it comes to hunting, fishing, trapping, etc.
The goal needs to rejoice in the fact that although many of us choose to enjoy the outdoors in slightly different ways, our differences should never become kindling used for torching fellow sportsmen. Indeed, the goal might need to re-focus our thinking for the greater good of our beloved outdoor pursuits, but that’s okay and a healthy step in the right direction.
THE GOAL: All laws, rules and regulations should be developed and construed allowing the MAXIMUM number of people to participate and to enjoy the outdoors. There you have it! Notice I didn’t say to enjoy the outdoors a certain way at the expense of how others might enjoy it. Of course, the underlying caveat to this goal must always consider what is good for the natural resources first and foremost.
Honestly, folks, I’ve really growing tired of the divisiveness prevalent within our ranks seemingly motivated by pure selfish thinking. It’s a cancer and needs to be dealt with before it spreads out of control. As a group, we can’t afford to alienate other sportsmen (or future sportsmen) because we strive to push for personal agendas losing sight of what should be the greater goal. Then, of course, if we all choose to continue operating without a common goal for our beloved outdoor activities we simply continue on a destiny of eventual doom.
©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.