Communication, Safety & Management Products and Software for Outdoors Men and Women
If you’re a member of any hunting, conservation or shooting sports organization, you’ve undoubtedly read many stories about legislative actions, land acquisitions, and landowner relationships established to add thousands of acres to publicly accessed lands. One conservation organization alone has pledged to add a staggering 500,000 acres to the already available 690 million acres of Federal & State hunting lands, along with an additional 1.5 million new hunters. These are noble actions and designed for preservation of our hunting heritage to ensure that future generations will have places to hunt.
But, does making more land available really mean that more people are going to use it? And, does adding space resolve any of the problems associated with public hunting? Or, will more hunters merely flock to the newest wide open space only to find it’s the same old experience?
Public access isn’t the only problem associated with public hunting. There are ages old problems that exist and need to be resolved: safety, privacy, overcrowding, and overuse. I started my hunting career in Pennsylvania back in the 1970s exclusively on public land and learned quickly to tolerate the situation. I’ve migrated toward private land hunting in the last 35+ years, but still spend 30%-40% of my time on public properties in Ohio, Kentucky, and South Dakota. But that’s not the norm in the hunting community. How many of you would only hunt public land if it were the last place available, and maybe not even then?
Creating an environment where a hunter can have a safe experience with fewer interruptions, greater satisfaction and improved success is equally important to increasing accessibility. Hunters don’t intentionally stumble into each other in the field, but until communication amongst them is addressed, we perpetuate a situation that results in two ruined hunts each time, thousands of time each year. Hunters who continue to have poor experiences will eventually stop hunting, and that’s an opportunity lost to pass down our Hunting Heritage to another generation. Or we’ll simply create an entire generation of folks that won’t hunt public land and would rather hire a guide/outfitter to put them on game. Neither outcome is desirable.
The solution to these problems isn’t rocket science. It comes down to two basic components: communication and culture. There has to be willingness on the part of the Landowners (private entities, State DNR/GFPs, Federal Agencies) and Hunters to openly communicate, and a reliable means of delivering the message. Hunters have to be willing to share information with other public land users in order to improve their personal safety and, in return, have more privacy. It goes something like this: share your location afield with the next guy or gal that intends to use the area, and then you both share with the next one, and so on, and suddenly everyone has a bird’s eye view of occupancy and density. Common courtesy and field smarts dictate that most other hunters will respect your designated safety zone.
I know some of you are saying “I’m not gonna tell anybody about my super-secret-nobody-else-knows-spot”, but just answer this one question. Have you ever seen another hunter while you were there? Not so secret anymore, is it? Sharing your location not only helps other sportsmen avoid you, but it also leaves a record behind for First Responders if something happens to you. They’ll know where to find you, and your family will appreciate the consideration.
Just as there is a cost to secure public hunting lands, there is a cost to resolve the associated issues. Relative to the land costs, the solution is insignificant when compared to the benefits that agencies and hunting gear manufacturers will obtain from increased licensing and product sales to more active hunters. For the individual hunter, the cost is less than the fuel it takes to drive to a wildlife area and hunt with an uncertain outcome. So, what’s more important to you as a hunter, industry professional, or public agency? Making each hunt as satisfying and successful as possible on public lands presently available, or adding more land that simply prolongs the problems?
We started taking these issues seriously back in 2011, so if you want working solutions with immediate results, visit us at OutdoorTrackerSystems.com. If you prefer to be distraught about another interrupted public land hunt, keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing and remember these words of wisdom from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Enjoy the outdoors more with Outdoor Tracker Systems.