What are You Doing to Serve Deer?
Following a long week, attending a play at our community theater was a welcomed respite for my wife and I before the chaos of a new week commenced. After the play we decided to take advantage of the comfortable weather and walk to a local establishment that serves warm cookies that can be used to create an ice cream sandwich with your favorite flavor, if you’re feeling adventurous. As we entered, the young woman running the shop slowly drug herself from the stool, phone in hand, and sulked her way behind the counter. We enthusiastically ordered, paid our bill, and said, “Have a great day,” on our way out the door. While I’m not certain, I believe I heard her mutter, “You too,” but even if she did, the level of effort sent the opposite message. It seemed obvious that she didn’t care to be at work, and that we didn’t get her best effort. At this point you might be wondering what any of this has to do with deer.
We’ve written in the past about how few deer hunters join a national deer group (about 1%) or local conservation organization, or participate in activities that will help wild deer, habitat, or the future of the sport. This reminds me of the woman at the cookie shop who is at her job performing at the minimal level, but still being paid the same amount per hour and taking home a paycheck whether she gives her full effort or not. If you’re an NDA member and reading this, you’re not one of those people and you have at least chosen to follow what’s happening with deer and hunting. My guess is, you’re doing a lot more than that.
So now you may be thinking I’m preaching to the choir. I guess I am, to a point. Despite what any of us is doing to serve deer, we can always do more. For those already giving back, maybe the next step is to invite your friends and neighbors to give a little more if they’re not already. I know that just about everyone’s schedule is packed, so if that’s the case, maybe a membership or a financial contribution to a conservation organization is the easiest way to serve deer. If money is an issue, taking some time to participate in a habitat project or teaching a new person to hunt is an easier way to give back. If money and time are an issue, simply being aware of the issues impacting deer and hunting and helping to educate other hunters is also beneficial to the cause.
Remember, an NDA membership is free, and there’s really no reason not to join. If you get annoyed by the weekly On Watch newsletter, delete them on occasion, or simply read them when you’re in the mood. We don’t expect that you’ll read them all and participate in every survey, but we do hope that you’ll be ready to act on important issues that impact deer when called upon.
Many people confuse leadership with shouting orders or directions to others, but in fact, the opposite is true. The best leaders are servants and ask the question, “What can I do to better serve my cause?” I attended a speech by Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle at a National Shooting Sports Foundation Industry Summit a couple of years ago where he asked everyone to stretch their arms into the air as far as they could and hold them there. After a few moments, he asked us all to give him just a little bit more. Of course, just about everyone found it in themselves to stretch out a few more inches, and thus the point was made.
There will always be someone who just shows up for deer season and takes home a paycheck in the form of enjoying the opportunity, and maybe even tagging a deer. We can’t control what others do, but we certainly can control what we do. I’m challenging all of us to do just a little bit more this year, and to recruit a few fellow hunters to join us. No matter what we already give, we can all give a little more.