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What Have We Become?

Stretch

Have you ever taken the time to stop for a second and just looked around at your surroundings?  I mean really take in who you truly are and how you got to this place in your life.  Let me ask you this, how many of you, this year, got in your treestand or crawled into your groundblind and it just hit you? The thought of what the heck are you doing?  For those who are honest, you can vouch that it’s an empty feeling of emotions.  You look at all the new gear that you just had to have and all the money that was wasted.  You look at your new camo and realize the only reason you bought it is because it was trending, and for some reason you think people will judge you if you wore the other brand.  We all have experienced that feeling of emptiness at one point and if you haven’t, you will in due time.

I was taught you have to be honest with yourself to solve your own problems.  When it comes to the management and hunting of the whitetail deer, I believe the conversation of “who are we becoming”, needs to be had.

A great friend of mine, Cody Altizer, once said, “I never understood people when they said they march to the beat of a different drum. Initially, that sounds good right?  But at the end of the day, aren’t they still following someone else’s lead?  I would rather create my own music”.  When we reference that quote to practicing QDM, this quote it’s almost Aldo Leopold like.

I remember growing up as a child having posters of people I looked up to.  I had posters of Steve Largent to Leonard Lee Rue III hanging on my wall and envisioned someday being like them.  As you grow up mentally, you realize those people you looked up to are just people and instead of trying to mirror them, you use them as inspiration.  This mentality of trying to be somebody we are not is what I believe is the cancer, if you will, that might be destroying our love for the whitetail deer and what it represents.

Competition is defined as the act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry.  Competition, when used correctly, can create many great things.  It can inspire people to come up with innovative ideas that make things better.  When used incorrectly, it breads narcissistic behaviors that lead to resentment and so on.  This word competition and what it stands for I believe has taken over the practice of QDM and what it really was intended to be.  QDM wasn’t supposed to be about you, it was supposed to represent what you can do for wildlife and its surroundings.

We live in the time where instant gratifications represents more to us than the long term effects of our actions.  Whether we are talking about introducing children to our way of life or we about how we view each other as conservationist, competition has changed our values or lack thereof.

Remember the times we based how good a hunter was not so much on what he or she has on the wall, but by his or her character?  The way he or she conducted themselves out in the field was whether or not they were good.  Today, due to competition, we base how good someone is as a hunter on how many deer they pass up, how much property they lease, and whether or not he or she has a web/TV show.

This narcissistic behavior doesn’t just include hunters.  This behavior can spill over to deer management as well.  Who has the best quality deer on their trail cameras, who has the biggest turnip bulbs in their food plots, and who manages the most acres are some of the competitive issues that can drive managers to say or produce things that are almost snake oil remedies. These so called innovative ideas are just to have that competitive edge over the other guy and only hurt the client or yourself long term.

We even allow others to base our own accomplishments on their reactions or what they produce. This behavior only drives people to resentment or to do things that don’t represent their values.  This feeling of having to be recognized to be considered great at what you do is going to be the downfall of our sport and wildlife in general.  This direction that we are heading is only going to breed more privatization of hunting property, illegal activity in harvest, and devaluing of wildlife to list a few.  All in which we have seen through the resent years as QDM takes on a different face.

I believe we are almost out of reach of stopping this train, but there are plenty of solutions to slow it down. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.  When this phrase was spoken, I’m sure the words he chose, were to inspire a generation that was mentally stagnant in the sense of not feeling empowered to help themselves.  To inspire a generation that was counting on someone else for success.  That inspiring quote was said over a hundred years ago and still rings true today.

One way to slow things down is to stop putting posters on our walls of others.  God gave us many things, but one thing he gave us was a brain.  He gave all of us one, not just a few, so we can think and act on those thoughts, as an individual.  When it comes to hunting and the management of that species we pursue, we must think and act through our own eyes not of others.  As Teddy Roosevelt stated, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”, those words have so much meaning when it comes to our life style.  When you live on a budget as most of us do, you can’t get frustrated because you can’t afford a tractor.  You can’t get frustrated because you can’t afford fertilizer this year when your child needs braces.  When you live in Florida you can’t get frustrated when you can’t produce Mid-Western size results.

We have to start managing and hunting within our own means.  Who cares what people think of your 130 inch class buck?  Who cares if your food plots are weedy?  Who cares if your trail cam photos are full of immature deer?  We have to start turning our mental thoughts as if “I don’t try to walk in your shoes, so don’t try to walk in mine”.  People don’t know your financial situation and people don’t know what is going through your mind when you draw your bow back.  So why do you care what they think?  Why do you allow the outside world to dictate your management decisions if you can’t achieve those expectations yourself?

Manage within your means, hunt within honest expectations, and start having fun with what you are doing.  We all have to stop this mentality of managing for somebody else.  There isn’t one person that deer hunts that wakes up in the morning and says I can’t wait to kill a small buck.  Instead, we have dreams of mature bucks on our walls and never apologize for that. With that being said, don’t let those thoughts run your life.

I believe we are closing in on the cross roads of changing how we view the act of hunting and the management of the species.  The scary thing is we are to blame, not an outside organization.  We are allowing the politics to dictate wildlife management decisions.  We are allowing what is trending on social media to dictate how we value wildlife.  All things that will crumble the very thing we love if we don’t start recognizing these signs.  We have to start being honest with ourselves that we all can’t be on the cover of a magazine.  Once we start having that conversation, then we can address our own problems one at a time.

TV is intended to be entertainment and magazine article are one person’s opinion.  When we allow ourselves to base our own actions and thoughts from someone else, then aren’t we still marching to someone else’s music?  Make your own music and stop being sheep.  This is the recipe for success, this is the recipe for you to lead, and this is the recipe to break the chains of what is trending.

DLWM

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