Social media has truly changed the world, how are you going to use it to keep the sport of hunting alive?
Back in the autumn of days gone by, when grandpa had all of the kids surrounding the fire and told the account of the “big Tom” or the “longest retrieve,” we chalked it up as a fictional tale that had at one time, been true. The hunter’s tales that once saturated small motels and campsites across our nation have now been limited to 140 characters or less. What was once an estimated measurement of space between the fibbing, wrinkled, hands of the great hunter are now a picture and hash tag that serves as required proof of one’s outdoor success. There will never again be a time where social media does not exist, the question is, how to best use this platform as leverage to grow the sport we love and improve the opinions of those who are not currently involved in the great outdoors?
The key to approaching social media is to understand that this online platform may be a hunter’s most valuable asset not found in the blind bag this season. One of the greatest aspects of social media and its impact on the outdoor world is the ability for the outdoorsman to connect like never before with other hunters and anglers. What was once a brotherhood, or sisterhood, of a few trucks at the boat ramp is now thousands of hunters joining together at the click of the log-in button. Facebook groups, Instagram pages, and Snapchat stories have transformed those who were once regionally specific sportsmen into sportsmen active in conversations nationwide. Tips and tactics that were previously word of mouth are now streamlined from state to state, or Facebook post to post. Information sharing has allowed people access to an endless supply of education that will make them more successful in the field.
Social media has allowed outdoorsmen to “brand” themselves in the eyes of those not participating. I have been asked countless times, “So do you eat what you kill?” This is undoubtedly a side effect of generations of hunters that were unable to accurately display the ethical and conservation aspects of hunting. Many can only picture a cliché visual of a deer slung over the hood of a beat up pick-up truck cruising Main Street. Luckily, social media has provided a “public relations” platform for hunters and anglers to express their love for conservation and the preservation of the great outdoors.
As the word spreads, the sport grows, and more revenue is generated thus stimulating funds dedicated to conservation. This pattern can been seen in nonprofits such as Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the list goes on. The awareness sparked through social media is promising a “next season” for many years to come.
The world has been forever changed as a result of the technological advancements over recent history. We now carry computers in our pockets and have access to an audience of thousands with a simple Tweet or post. As outdoorsmen, it is our responsibility to use this platform as leverage to keep the sport we love alive. This is the future of conservation; this is the future of hunting, ready or not.