From Lee's Desk, June 2016

Learning it Right the First Time

Would you teach a young person learning to drive that it’s okay to “roll through” a stop sign or that it’s permissible to exceed the speed limit or text on the freeway?

For most people, the answer would be “no”.

Before MHHF’s founding Executive Director Allan Hoover began building our Federation, we had many conversations during long road trips to and from Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) and International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) conferences. We talked about what inspired us to become volunteer hunter education instructors and our first hunting experiences.

We agreed there were things we were taught that we would not pass along when teaching others. I’ve been told by several people who, though they had no problem with hunters or hunting, had unfortunate and negative experiences which soured them on pursuing hunting personally.

As instructors and mentors, we want to assure that a youngster’s first hunting experience is positive, where safety, sportsmanship, respect and appreciation for wildlife are emphasized. Later, with more experience, every hunter will develop their own personal code of ethics which will guide their behavior in a way that feels honorable, perhaps even setting standards more strict than what the law allows.

They will also refine their personal standards of safety, determining what feels comfortable and what seems a little risky. Whether to hunt from a tree stand or a ground blind for example, or deciding at what point the temperature (or wind chill) is colder than they care to challenge.

Though we can’t keep everyone from getting a bad first impression of hunting, we can teach our students practices that all safe and ethical hunters would agree are essential to present the real beauty and wonder of our interactions with the natural world.