There’s a new generation of hunters and anglers out there. They’re young, fit, educated, new to places like Cabela’s, and typically know how to tie a figure eight knot. They know their way around the mountains, know how to endure harsh conditions and discomfort for their goals, and care deeply about the future of natural resource management and public access in this country.
I am one of these newcomers. I’m an urban, female entrepreneur with a background in ecology and agriculture. I recently started a company called Wylder, which is a mission-driven marketplace for the modern outdoorswoman. I started big game hunting two years ago after a long rebellion from factory-farmed meat and years spent raising and processing my own animals for food.
No one in my family hunts, or ever has. I didn’t shoot a high powered rifle until two years ago. I chose this path for myself, wore men’s camo to get there, and was fortunate to receive mentorship and support from my friend Jon Chatelain and the incredible hunting community.
This is a critical time for public lands and from my unique vantage point, I see more shared interest in historically isolated user groups than ever before.
Our reason for uniting is a shared passion. We have common ground–public lands–that support our livelihoods, offer sustenance both physically and spiritually, and keep us connected to the most archaic and human values on earth.
We are the essential component of a bridged movement across different user groups, and it all begins with empathy. So, how are you going to contribute? Whose story are you going to listen to more deeply next time? The mountain bikers? The climbers? The grandpa who has hunted the same unit his entire life? Or the newbie finding their way? Each individual relationship to the outdoors–no matter if the activity is derived from hunting and fishing or mountain biking or climbing–is valid, worthy, and deserves respect. Honoring this honors the steward in all of us.
Us new folks...we need mentors. When is the last time you shared your knowledge? In order to pull off a unified movement, we have to expand the legacy of a hunting education as family inheritance. Most of us don’t have that anymore. For those of you who have been around the block, thank you. We want to hear your stories and learn from your expertise.
Personally, I hope we can build a culture where little girls can say, “My mom taught me how to hunt and fish.” I imagine it would be a place where I can purchase ammunition without the store owner assuming its for my boyfriend.
So when you see your first Subaru in a national forest parking lot during the general rifle season, representing this new wave of hunters and anglers, try thinking: ‘We’re all in this together.” Because, we are.