Q: What is your fondest hunting or angling memory?
When my oldest daughter Aubrey was about 10 years old we went on her first duck hunt. It was early in the season, and the ducks were few, fast and far. Aubrey kept asking if she could shoot one of the coots that frequently presented an easy shot. After refusing several times I relented, half hoping she’d miss. She didn’t, and I learned that grilled coot, wrapped in plenty of bacon, is, well, edible. When my younger daughter Lauren was 14, we went on her first deer hunt. While she didn’t kill one that year, we had the excitement of close encounters with deer. The time we spent sitting, watching, eating apples and talking that fall is still a vivid heart-treasure to me all these years later.
Q: What led you to your career in conservation?
My parents and grandparents made sure I had ready access to hunting and fishing. Dad was a wildlife professional, and Granddad was a rancher and farmer. My childhood was spent in the deserts and mountains of Arizona and on my granddad’s land in Kansas. I had abundant access to wild places, and the Daisy Red Ryder my mom and dad gave me for my ninth Christmas let me collect and study countless song birds, lizards and frogs. These experiences remain among the most powerful influences on my life.
Q: How did you get involved with the TRCP?
I first learned of the TRCP when I was a field representative for the Wildlife Management Institute. The TRCP seemed like the perfect complement to the science and policy work that WMI, TNC and other long-standing conservation organizations and agencies were doing. The TRCP’s grassroots advocacy for sportsmen and sound wildlife conservation policy attracted my interest in the organization.
Q: What do you think are the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen today?
Declining awareness of, experiences in and passion for the natural world among young people threaten wildlife and hunting more than any other factor – except perhaps global population growth. More immediate threats such as unbridled energy and transmission development and diminished access to hunting lands must be addressed as well.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of the TRCP, and how can the Nature Conservancy work with us to accomplish these goals?
We need to have the TRCP and its partners function effectively in arenas of policy and economics. Sportsmen’s organizations continue to be powerful and credible forces, and their influence needs to be focused on major long-term challenges without losing focus on the day-to-day importance of restoring habitats and access to wild lands. Sportsmen and -women with a passion for the wild outdoors must share their experiences with young people.