Boone and Crockett: Hunt Right

A new initiative being launched by the Boone and Crockett Club titled, Hunt Right; Hunt Fair Chase will address two of the most pressing issues for hunters and conservation efforts of our time, that being the image of the North American hunter in particular and the public image of hunting in general.

Hunters have always been a minority but there was a time when sportsmen were better understood, accepted and even respected for their skill, commitments to wildlife and how we conducted ourselves. Today, none of us has to look far to see hunting's modern relevance is being questioned, if not being outright attacked. The questions and attacks include both sportsmen as individuals as well as the activity of hunting.

The new initiative, which is being supported by industry manufacturers, the outdoor media, and conservation groups launched just recently. Its purpose is to invigorate and inspire sportsmen of today by shining a light on the moral connection hunters have always had with the game they hunt and how this connection translates into the values hunters carry with them into the field. This connection is a critical part of the fair chase principles Theodore Roosevelt and the Club helped to establish over a century ago which became the foundation of an overall conservation ethic.

Historically, before hunting became the irreplaceable mechanism for conservation that it is today, a new order had to be established. By the time Roosevelt founded the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887 wildlife in general and many game species in particular had been pushed to the brink by commercial market hunting, unregulated sport hunting and habitat loss. Teddy’s vision for a new way forward was to put an end to the commercial slaughter and encourage public hunting under a system governed by laws and a code of ethics which the Club would call fair chase.

For most hunters, the ethics, the way individuals conduct themselves in the field is a matter of great pride. Like many ideas conceived and handed down over 100 years ago a refresher course is a good idea. Thus this new initiative by the B & C Club.

Hunting, personal motivations and values as hunters are under attack. If this is about a lack of information or misinformation, it can be fixed. If this is about the poor behavior of a few, the club and hunters in general have a responsibility to fix it. If it’s sportsmen who are talking about there own public image then it’s up to sportsmen to right the ship.

Hunt Right will appear as a robust communications effort directing sportsmen to a website where they can learn more about the history behind fair chase and how sportsmen can collectively become better brand ambassadors for hunting. To be heard and understood in the court of public opinion hunters must first have earn the permission to speak. Fair chase is sportsmens’ permission to speak. It says that not only are there laws that govern hunting, its participants go beyond the law and hold themselves accountable to personal code of ethics that show respect for the game. This is what our society needs to hear to quiet the critics, and they need to hear and see it from us.

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Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club is the oldest conservation organization in North America and helped to establish the principles of wildlife and habitat conservation, hunter ethics, as well as many of the institutions, expert agencies, science and funding mechanisms for conservation. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws.