The future of upland hunting is more important than our personal needs.
I hate to use the word “I” almost as much as I hate to generalize or judge people. That starts this article out on the wrong foot but it is something that needs to be said. Far too often I hear upland hunters complain that there is not enough new blood getting into the tradition. Negating the fact that they (in some cases) are part of the problem. Those overly loud (and often angry) folk tend to have one response to the question I can never contain myself from asking. “Why don’t you find some local young deer hunters or aspiring hunters and take them to your covers and show them the ropes?” The response is almost always without fail- “I am not taking anyone to my covers.”
If we are serious about growing this important tradition that is a breeding ground for some of the most important conservation fights in modern American environmental issues than we need to learn a bit about selfless acts. I am by no means an upland expert; in fact, I spend far more time filming upland hunting than actually hunting. But I have made it a point to always offer up my help as well as my covers to aspiring upland hunters. Now, I am not saying broadcast your covers to the world (I am sure plenty will comment asking where all my covers are). What I am saying is we must all do are part.
If by some amazing reason, we all decided to mentor two new upland hunters in our life we would grow our numbers by double in a generation. If they, by some reason continued the tradition we instilled in them through kindness and trust, then they will pass it on as well. I think we all know where the math is going here. Right now, as role models and teachers we can pass on ethical and important factors that makes all our selfishness rear its head.
Teach a new hunter the respect for a coveted cover. Teach them the ethics to never command another hunters dog. Teach them safety in the field. Help them get their first bird, train their first dog, find THEIR first cover. Deny a person the help to hunt and curse our future. Fail to recruit and we fail our most important mission yet- conservation.
The time to give up the secrets to our mysterious behavior is now. When it comes to this fight, this issue it is not about the past but the present. I am a firm believer that each of “my” covers do not belong to me, they belong to the future. They belong to any hunter willing to put in an honest day of boots to the ground to continue the world of upland hunting.