1998 – What a year! I was a kid and specifically remember loving baseball. Not just the game but the comradery that came with America’s pastime. Often, in those days, I would watch it with my grandpap, I can still smell the Copenhagen Wintergreen as he yelled “that’s gone!!” after some player jacked another out of the park.
We watched a lot of games, many of which were involving Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing the Roger Maris HR record. The entire country was enamored with the HR race, until it became tarnished. The race and all of baseball had lost its simplicity, in a way, it lost its innocent nature of being a game. Baseball suffered because the game became about home runs and the players would stop at nothing to give the fans all they wanted, even if that meant, steroid use.
As baseball fans we all blamed the players for their steroid use but looking back, can we blame them? We as fans created a game where home runs paid big checks, got the fans on their feet, and sold more jerseys. The pitching battles had just about the opposite effect!
So now that I got you wondering, what the hell does this have to do with bucks? Let me explain.
I believe that hunting has reached our “peak” of the bell curve, our 1998 – if you will. Hunting has been promoting big bucks for decades and it is fun and exciting to hunt them, chase them, photograph them and live the lifestyle that is involved with this obsession. However, as I watch endless Facebook posts mentioning the extreme over-working of the soil (sometimes without even a plan as to what to plant), the wrong/over-use of herbicide, planting invasive species, trying every attractant/supplement out there to add “a couple inches”, and in many cases a pure disregard for research, simply looking for a fast fix. I have asked myself, what a have we built?
Are we trying to beat records that were built by men smarter than us, with far fewer inputs? Are we doing so by simply artificially growing our success? Are we so eager for short term success, we refuse to learn more holistic approaches that are better for the land in the long run? Have we become so enamored with big bucks that we will put no limits on our inputs, in order to achieve this goal? Do we have any research to show that much of our efforts are even helping us achieve said goal?
With many of my ramblings, I don’t have the answers to my own questions. I do know that without reflection, one cannot clearly identify their own goals. Without goals one cannot identify their WHY. Without our WHY, we lack purpose. I believe our WHY, is more than just a big buck as a means to an end.
As a generation of hunters, we all need to strongly come together and focus on what is important. We need to all look to identify our “why”.
Do we want our 1998 home run mania, that was exciting, yet short-lived and tarnished? Or do we want a strong, stable foundation that will last forever, achieved through practices that take into consideration the foundation of all wildlife and how we can best conserve our hunting heritage?
I’m obsessed with big bucks; I just hope we don’t look back and ask someday “was it worth it?”
Thanks for reading –
One tree, one plant, one acre at a time-