The Original Conservationists

The Bugle of a bull elk. The gobble of a roosted tom. The whistle of a bobwhite. These are all sounds created by wildlife that drives us to wake up before sunrise, brave the most extreme weather and spend endless hours waiting for a chance to observe them.

Elk in western North Carolina

Elk in western North Carolina

What many people, even hunters, don’t realize is that we the hunters are the ones who have paid the money that has enabled these magnificent creatures to roam our landscape once again.

Hunters are faced with more public adversity now than ever. Many feel that hunting is outdated and inhumane. In essence, they want to “save” the animals that we have been saving for decades. The Pittman Roberston act is a tax that was placed on hunting merchandise such as rifles and ammunition. This tax has currently raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been used in the acquisition of land habitat restoration.
In the early 1900s unregulated hunting lead to the decimation of many wildlife species. Many species were pushed to the brink of extinction and it is only because of the outdoorsmen that saw this downward spiral stepped up to curtail the inevitable so we are able to enjoy them today.

Since the enactment of the PR act along with the establishment of many wildlife restoration and management organizations we have seen once-decimated wildlife flourish again. For example, the money that was used to extract elk from various locations to be reintroduced to NC’s Chattahoochee valley elk herd was only a possibility due to hunters. A similar process was used with the wild turkey restoration in the 1970s through the 1990s. Even the resilient white-tailed deer were once overharvested. A buck skin was highly sought after in the early 1900s and one could purchase a skin for only a dollar. Hence the reason a one dollar bill is referred to as a “buck.” In the early 1900s there were roughly 500,000 white-tailed deer and now an estimated 32,000,000. There were approximately 41,000 rocky mountain elk and there is currently over 1,000,000. Furthermore, there were roughly 100,000 wild turkeys and now an estimated 7,000,000. (Credit: Population estimations to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.)

Organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Ducks Unlimited (DU), The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the National Deer Alliance (NDA) have been on the forefront of this battle for some time. It is our duty to support these organizations if at all possible because they are fighting a battle that many non-hunters don’t understand. While some may view hunting as cruel and inhumane they aren’t seeing the big picture, one that we have seen and created as outdoorsmen. There is no anti-hunting organization that donates money toward the conservation of any wildlife species. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hit the nail on the head when they created the slogan “Hunting Is Conservation.”

  • Andrew Walters

  • Andrew Walters is an Edgecombe County native and spends much of his time pursuing wild game and fishing across eastern North Carolina with his family and his fiancé, Noelle. His passion for the outdoors was the driving force that led him to North Carolina State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Science in 2014. He was the President of the NCSU Quality Deer Management Association club and continues to be an avid member of QDMA. After graduating, he earned his real estate license and joined the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms team in Greenville, NC. He is a freelance outdoor writer and has had a number of featured articles in the Wildlife in NC magazine, as well as, Mossy Oak Gamekeepers. Andrew is also a major contributor to the Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms weekly blog, the Management Minute. His extensive knowledge of wildlife management coupled with his ability to identify plant and tree species provides him the unique ability to help clients not only identify, but manage their property to maximum potential. Andrew’s enthusiasm and knowledge enables him to properly navigate the channels necessary in “finding your favorite place” outdoors, as well as, developing a wildlife management plan specifically tailored for your piece of ground. Contact Andrew today to find out how he can help you find and manage your next dream property.

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