Today’s blog post comes from Shane Mahoney of Boone and Crockett Country.
All significant human activities sooner or later are organized under a banner that represents those interested in, and participating in that activity. Hunting is no different.
We have labor and trade unions, associations of professionals, organizations, leagues, clubs, coalitions, societies and fraternities for everything from Farm Bureaus to the United Nations. Today, the hunting and conservation landscape is populated with hundreds of clubs and organizations, some local and some national, each representing a common bond or purpose toward their individual areas of interest. That’s a good thing.
To the larger debate of what will be hunting’s future, it is worth knowing how and why hunting clubs and conservation organizations formed in this country and how a fragmented array of groups can and have become a strong voice for hunting, conservation, and our wildlife. The good news is sportsmen are now more organized than ever before.
The first sportsmen’s clubs in North America were formed as social groups of likeminded individuals that of course enjoyed hunting. But even in these early days there was purpose beyond just getting together with the guys. Game was already becoming harder to come by in and around the population centers of the East as early as 1830.
These early groups focused on local issues to improve their hunting – pushing back on market hunting, lax game laws, and wide open bag limits. The first organization to take on matters on a national scale was the Boone and Crockett Club, formed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887. Their motivation was very much aimed at declining big game populations, but it didn’t take long for this group to dive into proposing the polices and laws to protect and recover wildlife, as well as secure habitats for them.
In time, more sportsmen’s groups, clubs, and organizations sprang forth. The earlier ones addressed issues of specific interest. Those that followed organized to ensure the future of specific species of wildlife. Each of these groups brought about influence and change, but the evolution of the conservation organization was not finished.
In 2000, with some 45 different groups in existence, the Boone and Crockett Club invited all to a unifying summit. The result would be the formation of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners network – a coalition of groups representing millions of sportsmen. Now with the collect voice (votes) of many, AWCP set out to affect even more policy to protect wildlife resources and the traditions of hunting, angling, and shooting. The results have been remarkable.
Strength in numbers and of purpose is what I’m talking about. It is what has moved the needle for conservation throughout history and today. This is a good story to know and tell, and there is more.
If you’ve been asking yourself how anti-hunting groups can seem to be so organized and we’re not, you need to watch this episode.