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posted in: General

July 7, 2013

A Sportsman’s Encounter with Conservation

I work in wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s advocacy, an arena about which I am truly passionate. Nevertheless, I occasionally have days when I wonder why I bother.

Frustrations in one form or another – whether setbacks in the political process or the challenges inherent in educating hunters and anglers about policy issues – can make you want to bang your head against the wall.

But some moments make it all worthwhile. Recently after a particularly difficult week at the office, I sought some much-needed “mountain therapy” in the backcountry of Wyoming near my home. I tackled a relatively long and challenging hiking trail, which ascended to about 8,000 feet before leveling out along a ridgeline and providing spectacular, uninterrupted views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

As I climbed through the timber, my mind still on my work, I noticed a mule deer buck bedded just below the tree line. I stopped and sat with him a while, occasionally making eye contact, and as he showed no sign of being nervous about my presence, I quietly pulled out my video camera.

Now, before anyone comments that this is just a boring video clip of a deer doing nothing, I challenge you to look a little closer. To me, this video represents everything I work for, summarized in one brief minute.

In this video I see a healthy, mature mule deer buck, who in June already is showing promise of becoming the kind of buck that wanders through any mountain hunter’s dreams. His habitat, while designated for multiple uses such as energy development as well as recreation, is scientifically managed for his needs and is neither over-grazed nor overrun with development. His range is not fragmented by unnecessary roads and has clean water plentiful enough to grow the forage that keeps him in good body condition. While pressure from predators exists, his aging face is evidence of the fact he has learned to co-exist with the wolf pack whose den is within three miles of this sunny hillside.

When I look at this video I see evidence of responsible, science-based management of our fish and wildlife. And that makes me want to get up another day and continue to fight all of the seemingly uphill battles sportsmen face here in the West, whether it’s irresponsible energy development, lack of funding or the political erosion of our backcountry.

I hope you will join me in this endeavor by signing up as a Western Sportsman Advocate.

2 Responses to “A Sportsman’s Encounter with Conservation”

  1. Scott Hed

    Articulated very well, Neil. Hats off to you and all the rest who put in the tireless (and often thankless) work of advocating on behalf on hunters and anglers everywhere. It’s a good reminder, also, to get out and enjoy what is being fought for!

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by:

posted in: General

A Sportsman’s Encounter with Conservation

I work in wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s advocacy, an arena about which I am truly passionate. Nevertheless, I occasionally have days when I wonder why I bother.

Frustrations in one form or another – whether setbacks in the political process or the challenges inherent in educating hunters and anglers about policy issues – can make you want to bang your head against the wall.

But some moments make it all worthwhile. Recently after a particularly difficult week at the office, I sought some much-needed “mountain therapy” in the backcountry of Wyoming near my home. I tackled a relatively long and challenging hiking trail, which ascended to about 8,000 feet before leveling out along a ridgeline and providing spectacular, uninterrupted views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

As I climbed through the timber, my mind still on my work, I noticed a mule deer buck bedded just below the tree line. I stopped and sat with him a while, occasionally making eye contact, and as he showed no sign of being nervous about my presence, I quietly pulled out my video camera.

Now, before anyone comments that this is just a boring video clip of a deer doing nothing, I challenge you to look a little closer. To me, this video represents everything I work for, summarized in one brief minute.

In this video I see a healthy, mature mule deer buck, who in June already is showing promise of becoming the kind of buck that wanders through any mountain hunter’s dreams. His habitat, while designated for multiple uses such as energy development as well as recreation, is scientifically managed for his needs and is neither over-grazed nor overrun with development. His range is not fragmented by unnecessary roads and has clean water plentiful enough to grow the forage that keeps him in good body condition. While pressure from predators exists, his aging face is evidence of the fact he has learned to co-exist with the wolf pack whose den is within three miles of this sunny hillside.

When I look at this video I see evidence of responsible, science-based management of our fish and wildlife. And that makes me want to get up another day and continue to fight all of the seemingly uphill battles sportsmen face here in the West, whether it’s irresponsible energy development, lack of funding or the political erosion of our backcountry.

I hope you will join me in this endeavor by signing up as a Western Sportsman Advocate.

by:

posted in: General

July 6, 2013

Meet Joey Hanson

Agronomist & Farmer

 Agronomist & Certified Crop Advisor: Now With Valley Ag Supply in Gayville, SD, and starting his own custom strip till business, Diversified Agronomics

Farm: Family Farm near Elk Point, SD

Row Crops: Corn & Soybeans

Acreage: Under 200

Family: 3-year-old son, Austin James Hanson, who wants to be on the family farm 24 hours day.

History: Joey’s grandparents started the family farm in the 1940s. After Joey’s dad died in a farming accident in 2006, Joey moved back to the farm in 2007. He and his brother, James, who is a precision ag technician with International Case in Sioux Falls, manage the farm together.

Conservation: Will start over cropping this summer, followed by strip tilling in the fall.

Why are you participating in the Conservation Exchange?

I have a small farm and am just starting conservation practices. I hope to gain more knowledge and expertise from those who have been doing it for some time. It opens up another door for long-term ag sustainability here in south Dakota. 

What do you hope to learn?

I want to learn about some of the issues they are having in the Gulf: hypoxia and water quality issues that stem from practices a couple thousand miles north of them. I want to learn how it’s affecting their practices; how it’s changing their practices; how government looks at it.

And I want to learn about their culture of agriculture. So much of agriculture has turned into business: agribusiness. I want to learn how we can help each other…what we can do to become better stewards.

What Else: Joey knows the other South Dakota participants through the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program.

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posted in: General

July 1, 2013

Field Reports: 2013 Duck Production Outlook

The stage is set for good waterfowl production in many important breeding areas.   

Ducks Unlimited field biologists have been busy studying habitat and breeding conditions and just released their duck production outlook. The map below shows an outline of their findings.

By DU Field Biologists

To get the full picture and find out how habitat in your area is faring, visit Ducks Unlimited.

 

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posted in: General

June 21, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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