Hunting is conservation.

To understand this, you must first accept conservation as the wise use of our resources. For example, we harvest trees for lumber, but we must harvest at a rate that sustains the resource for the future. The same principle applies to fish and wildlife.

When one puts themselves out there as a public figure promoting a controversial topic, as I have chosen to do as an outdoor writer who advocates for hunting, you expect some blowback. Over the years, I, along with many of my peers, have been the target of opponents who attack our American heritage of hunting. Their passion is usually rooted in ignorance of the role hunting has in effective conservation.

They passionately argue opinions while blatantly ignoring facts.

You wouldn’t have white-tailed deer and wild turkey across Indiana today if not for the efforts of hunters joining together in the early 1900s to demand a change in wildlife management practices. Hunters know we must have a healthy population of a species if we hope to hunt those animals for our dinner tables in the future. That’s why today’s ethical hunters abide by game laws and respect bag limits. We know our actions and are a major part of the effort to sustain healthy wildlife populations.

Hunters join together to form conservation organizations that have major impacts on wildlife across our country. Because of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s hundreds of thousands of members, wild turkeys have been restored to their native range in states where the birds had been absent for over a century. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been instrumental in returning elk to Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Michigan, Virginia and more. Perhaps one day bulls will be bugling in the Hoosier National Forest.

Professionals work hard to manage wildlife. They use science to determine when hunting seasons should occur and what limits should be placed on each species to ensure that wildlife game species thrive well into the future. Much of the money used to employ and pay these folks comes from hunters.

Hunters fund conservation. Hunter dollars don’t just support game species, hunters benefit all wildlife species. Through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act, hunters pay a federal excise tax on certain firearms, ammunition and sporting goods. So hunters have contributed billions of dollars to wildlife management.

Without the financial support and dedicated passion of hunters, wildlife would suffer. You would be living in a vastly differently world, one much more devoid of wildlife, if not for hunters.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at djsports@dailyjournal.net.