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Mentoring New Outdoor Enthusiasts

Wildlife and the Outdoors

Mentoring New Outdoor Enthusiasts


Charles R. Sharp, Wildlife Biologist III


Many changes have occurred to hunting since the days when our fathers were first learning to hunt. We have gone from being able to hunt almost any piece of property just by asking permission, to paying $12 or more an acre to lease the same tract of land. We have gone from stepping out the back door to a little squirrel hunting, to having to drive an hour or more to get to the hunting club. We have gone from almost everyone we know being a hunter, to being one of the few on your street who claims hunting as their number one recreational activity. These changes have had a major impact on the sport of hunting. The number one threat to hunting is not the price of hunting leases, nor is it the cost of hunting licenses, guns, or ammunition. The number one reason that we have seen a dramatic decline in the number of those who call themselves hunters is not from any outside attack. As was the decline and fall of the Roman Empire from within, so is the decline of hunting.

Most Alabama hunters can usually identify one or two individuals that were responsible for instilling in them a love for the outdoors and the wonders that abound there. It might have been a father, grandfather, uncle or maybe a close friend of the family. Whoever that person was matters a great deal to the individual; however, to the fraternity of hunters it is more important that someone took the time to take a young person with little or no understanding of wildlife, sportsmanship, marksmanship or woodsmenship and invested time in mentoring those young neophytes.

Our world has changed greatly over the last couple of decades. Gasoline prices have skyrocketed, housing costs have risen, and the cost of groceries has also increased; yet, most of us are better off financially than were our parents. The one thing that has remained constant is time. Each generation has only a finite bit of time. Our mentors invested some of their precious time instilling in us the love of the outdoors and in turn for their investment, we owe it to the next generation to pass that heritage on to them.

It might be true that some people will become outdoor enthusiasts without the benefit of a mentor, but this method deprives both the teacher and the student of a great relationship as well as memories. The willingness of each generation to invest some of their time imparting the love and knowledge of their hunting activities ensures that the sport will be carried on to future generations. The current generation of hunters now enjoys those same pursuits and with it the obligation to pass that same passion for the outdoors to their charges. If only one generation were to fail to pass their love of hunting on, the sport of hunting as we know it would be lost. It is up to each of us to do our part.

For more information, please contact Charles R. Sharp, Wildlife Biologist III, P.O. Box 247, Daphne, AL 36526 or call (251) 626-5474.


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