“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Why is hunter education, bowhunter education, and trapper education such a big part of our teen and preteen camps?
There are many very good reasons but number one is ethics. In No Child Left Behind, ethics is used not once in the 670-page version signed by Congress (706 pages in the version from the government printing office). Now juxtapose that document with IDFG Wolf Trappers Student Workbook it only has 33 pages, but in those 33 pages ethics, responsibility, and respect are used 21 times. Besides Ethics, Responsibility, and Respect having a dedicated chapter they are a common theme throughout the Hunter Ed, Bowhunter Ed, Trapper Ed, and Wolf Trapper Education curriculums.
The painting of the boy hunting could have been of me. I was trusted at age 10 to be alone with a rifle or shotgun because I had demonstrated for years that I could be trusted even when no one was looking. That is Aldo Leopold’s definition of ethics, “Doing the right thing when no one is looking even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” Why could I be trusted? Probably I liked being trusted; I like the perks that came from being trusted such as being able to hunt each morning and own a rifle and shotgun.
Compassion and empathy also did not find their way into No Child Left Behind or Common Core Standards but is very much a part Hunter Ed, Bowhunter Ed, Trapper Ed, and Wolf Trapper Education curriculums. In the countless Hunter Ed, Bowhunter Ed, Trapper Ed, and Wolf Trapper Education classes I have sat in over the past 9 years by many people they all had a deep-set belief that the most important responsibility the hunter or trapper has is assuring that the animal does not suffer; that no shot is taken unless the hunter knows it will be a swift and clean kill, no trap or snare the trapper uses injures the animal or provides a swift humane kill and the trapper has taken every effort to capture only the targeted species.
Compassion and empathy seem to find their way into the hearts of those that put meat on the table with their own hands. In growing up spending my life in communities where meat production, be it on a small homestead, big ranch, or by hunting, each meal started with giving thanks for the meat on the table. When kids grow up with the responsibility of taking care of an animal(s) who’s destiny is meat on the table those kids show more respect and walk taller.
People that don’t know any better that have no experience with this lifestyle assume or believe what others are telling them that those that kill for there food have no empathy or compassion. On the contrary, if I take kids that have no compassion or empathy for others and have them kill their food a change happens, I have seen it countless times, they become better people.
So if you want to have the next generation coming up to have ethics, responsibility, respect, compassion, and empathy you just might want them to take up hunting or trapping.