Throughout my life, I have observed that hunters tend to be generous with their time and resources. In fact, they frequently volunteer and donate to assist in conservation efforts. While this is fairly well known, recent information indicates they are also very generous when it comes to sharing their harvests as well! Hunters tend to share their harvests with at least 4–5 other family members or friends, and some share much more broadly. This sharing may contribute to the support that regulated hunting receives from over 75% of the general population even though a much smaller percentage of the general population actually hunts. This large proportion of the population that supports hunting connects personally with someone that hunts through shared harvests.
Consider the benefits of wild protein harvests for a moment. There probably exists no more natural, organic, chemical free food available on the planet than wild game. There is no feed lot where game is concentrated, no intense, commercial agricultural activities needed to feed the game, and no better “free range” living conditions for these animals. I am not implying that there is anything explicitly nefarious about the production of food and food items needed to support our society. Yet in this era when American society cares so much about how food is raised, produced, and prepared, what better source of natural, organic, lean protein than the harvest of wild game?
Not only is the game itself healthy, but to acquire this food, a hunter must engage in physical activity that may also provide health benefits. Hunting does not guarantee a harvest. Yet hunters that hunt hard may be rewarded with both exercise and food. These actions help us to retain a closer bond to the natural world; hunters know where food comes from and what it may take to get it.
The sharing of these wild harvests also helps to connect nonhunters with the natural world. Sharing a venison roast is generally accompanied with a description of the hunt, the wonders observed during the time a field, the visceral experiences shared, and genuine appreciation for the food provided. A venison roast shared with family and friends is often treasured and held for a special occasion. And just as a photograph can bring back memories of great moments shared while hunting, the sharing of a wild harvested meal similarly reinvigorates memories of things we value.
Hunters frequently share their passion with others. That passion goes beyond days in the field pursuing wild game. That passion often includes volunteering time and money to ensure that the wildlife the hunter values has water, food, cover, and space to exist. Those volunteer activities benefit not only the species that are hunted, but also many others as well. Artificial guzzlers provide water for bighorn sheep, but also benefit songbirds and bats. Reseeding efforts provide forage for mule deer, but also support ground squirrel and voles. Raven deterrents may assist sage grouse nest survival, but desert tortoise can reap benefits as well. And each of those species, including songbirds, bats, and tortoises, all add to the magic of a hunter’s day in the field.
Hunters are not the only ones that provide this volunteer effort. Other committed citizens support these volunteer efforts, too. The value of derived from these volunteers is not inconsequential. In a recent year, the Department was able to document 20,994 hours, 147,206 miles driven, and a cumulative financial value of $882,737. Because the Department can use this documentation to match our federal wildlife grant at a 1:3 ratio, this provided funding of $1,772,687 to benefit all wildlife at no cost to the state. This is of considerable merit to our natural environment from which all Nevadan’s benefit, whether they contribute or not. Sharing our wild harvests helps connect everyone with our tremendous natural resource!
So consider your harvest this year. Regulated hunting funds wildlife conservation that everyone enjoys and adds value to living in Nevada. Your volunteer efforts, often orchestrated through and by wildlife conservation organizations, generates added worth. Sharing your harvest with family and friends, as well as your passion working for wildlife, helps to connect everyone with our natural world. I can’t think of anything more precious to me than to share the things that I value with those that mean the most to me.
Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife