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27 responses to “On Joining”

  1. Steve

    Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Bruce Smithhammer

    Well said, Hank. It’s really quite simple – you can’t hunt and fish if there isn’t anything to hunt and fish for.

    Beyond that, I’d like to see much greater recognition of the fact that the vast majority of wild habitat that has been saved in this country (for all of us to enjoy…) has been the result of committed, boots-on-the-ground hunters and anglers, the hunting and angling conservation groups you’ve mentioned above, and state and federal taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and licenses.

    To put a finer point on it – when was the last time a group like PETA, who purports to care so much about animals, worked to actually save any habitat at all?

  3. Larry

    Thanks for writing that. Very motivating and yes I’m guilty for being inconsistent with my memberships so thanks for the nudge. You should have that article printed in all the different club newsletters, sporting magazines, etc. Really well written.

  4. Samuel

    Hank, you’re right on the mark. I’m part of that ‘adult on-set’ hunter group, even though I went a few times in high school, the urge has set it now that I’m in my late twenties. The hardest part is being in the military, and trying to get some form of hunting in with our overly erratic schedules. Thankfully where I’m stationed now, Washington State, the fishing has allowed me to make up for time I know will not be spent hunting due to training during the season. Please, please continue these type of articles, they kindle the fire inside me, and let me dream about the day I’ll be able to knock off those ‘firsts’ in the hunting department.

  5. Bethann @ fruit.root.leaf.

    Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. I’m sharing this far and wide. As an adult-onset hunter, gatherer and fisherwoman raised in a rural mountain West community, this couldn’t be more on-point.

  6. Russell L. Carter

    I happen to agree with your underlying philosophy 100%. I’ve been reading you for several years and at first I thought I’d see some apologies for the stylish waste some hunters indulge in, but impressively you did not do this.

    I’m a lefty, living in rural AZ. My father, and his father before him were life members of the NRA, and retail gun dealers. Unsurprisingly I’ve been hunting and fishing since I could lift a rifle or cast a rod. I’m in my 50s now, so I’m not an adult-onset hunter. I’ve shot just about every kind of firearm and I’m really good at killing (and cooking) quail and dove, my favorite kind of hunting. Mostly ’cause I love scrambling around out in the desert and chaparral. (I don’t use a dog, yeah, it’s a lot more work)

    The Republican Party is flat out insane, and here in AZ, I am guessing that 99.9% of hunters are Republican. The atmosphere is completely toxic for non-Republicans. The idea that somehow it is our “fault” that we don’t join organizations overwhelmingly dominated by this current crop of (fill-in-the-blank) people who would just as soon see us dead is preposterous. Republicans, heal thyselves. Then you might get some wider support for your actually worthwhile causes.

  7. Rob

    I joined Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation because that’s my primary species, they advocate on my behalf, and they’ve conserved acreage in the millions and not just any acres but the winter range that determines ultimately how many individuals a landscape can support.

    Yes I’m fairly left of center, so what. My fellow hunters and I agree on about 95% of the things that are important in life and that’s good enough for me. And as for eating… they are a lot more knowledgeable about cooking and preparing different species than my foodie friends who are still getting past meat having a “gamey” taste. Fermented elk liver sausage?

  8. Joanne

    Thanks for this Hank. I am on the board of our local watershed council, and like these large groups we work hard to protect and restore the habitat for salmon in our coastal watershed of north Lincoln County OR. In addition to these national groups, your readers would do well to investigate the small local groups in their area that have a tougher time raising funds and volunteers, and do so much of the hands-on habitat work. I plan to pass along your article as widely as possible!

  9. David Winton

    Thanks for the nudge Hank

    I was already a member of CWA, but this morning I joined DU and PF.

  10. Jeannie

    You are right! We are not new to hunting & fishing but we are not “joiners”. But you gave a great argument for joining so we joined the support group for Wild Turkey and the TU site. Both look to be worthwhile organizations to support. Thanks for the heads up.

  11. Denise Delgado

    Perfect Hank!

    We certainly do need to encourage the 25 year old and above crowd to join these groups. These associations/foundations, need ‘young blood’ to continue into the future. Marketing might play a major factor in catching their interest.

    Unfortunately a lot of these groups are made up of the ‘old folks’ and the ‘retro-crowd.’ It might be a little intimidating at first, but I have never felt unwelcome anywhere at a shooting range or event I’ve attended, nationwide. Every club has been more than happy to have new members.

    Please keep up the good work!
    Old school huntress and member, DU and CW.

  12. Richard Mellott

    I no longer live in the USA, but I’m a former member of CWA, and DU. I’ve also spent oodles of money on license fees with the various wildlife management agencies in the states where I’ve hunted over the years (Michigan, Wyoming, Utah, and California), always as a resident. In my hunting activities, I’ve spent a lot of money to support local economies, always consciously going to the smaller, locally-owned businesses, to support the communities, and the people who derive not just the bottom line, but their actual livelihood from the hunting/fishing activities and travelers. I’ve also done my best to be a conscientious hunter, taking care to treat people, land, and animals with respect.
    In my new adopted country, the Philippines, I’ve already been fishing, and we had both a local guide, and a boatman. We stayed in a local inn, and had a great time cooking up some of the fish we caught, feeding everyone. When we left, we tipped at 20%, guaranteeing our services and our reputation with the locals would be positive. Along the road home, we stopped and bought locally grown fruit, vegetables, and “coconut moonshine,” which is like aromatic everclear, to be served at my birthday party, along with the bass, tilapia, and catfish we brought/bought back. Locovores of the world, unite!
    I also got an invitation to go hunting snipe in the rice fields, where I will bring my English Pointer, another of my imports, to get some action. It’s finally starting to look like my outdoors-lifestyle will be available here, as I go on developing the relationships with earth, people, and good food over here. However, my manners were developed in the states, with much help recently due to Hank, Heidi, Charlie, Tovar, and many others who have shared responsibility for showing me how to do the right things in the field, publishing information that is not only timely, but sharing an ethos that allows me to feel proud to be a hunter, fisherman, and forager.

  13. Tino B

    Don’t forget the NorCal Chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (
    As well as the Sonoma County Abalone Network (
    Both organizations have played a key roll in representing consumptives during changes to the recreational ocean fishing and abalone fishing regulations.
    The reason you can take 22″ ling cod is due to the NorCal RFA.
    When the ling counts came back a few years ago much better than expected the Commercial interests were at the table arguing for an increase in their take.
    So was the NorCal Chapter of the RFA, who successfully argued that since the Commercial take was already at 95% of the fishery it was the recreational side that should be allowed an increase.
    In the end the regulations were changed to the benefit of the recreational angler, where diver/shore based fishing was opened for the entire year, and the size limit went down to 22″
    Supporting such groups is the only way to keep the lifestyle that we know in place.
    With groups like the Humane Society trying to close all hunting and fishing in California it is more important than ever to be a part of these key pro-hunting and fishing organizations.

  14. Neil H

    I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m not so new to hunting but am just learning waterfowl. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve hunted ducks, but I’ve already joined Ducks Unlimited. I did quite a bit of research on the history of wetlands conservation and these guys, and other similar organizations, have been doing the heavy lifting for a long time. If I literally would not be able to enjoy what I can today without the work they have done yesterday, I feel like it’s the price of admission.

  15. Erika

    Something else people can do to help support habitat is to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. Duck Stamp holders are allowed into all national wildlife refuges for free, (otherwise you have to buy a day pass), and the Duck Stamp fees help offset the impact of the latest sequester.

  16. Matt Miller

    Good post, Hank. I would only add that I encourage hunters and anglers to research the organizations they are supporting. In my view, they vary widely in policies, so support those that mesh with your own conservation ethic.

    Similarly, many local and national land trusts support hunting and fishing, and many even offer great opportunities on their land. Full disclosure: I am a writer for The Nature Conservancy, and while it is not a hunting organization per se, the staff and membership are full of hunters. I have killed whitetail, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, turkey and waterfowl on Conservancy lands — and all opportunities are open to the public, free of charge (other than your hunting license, of course).

    Finally, I think the organization that best meshes with the values and interests of adult-onset hunters I know is Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. BHA focuses on protecting the best wildlife habitat and public hunting opportunities. The members (and I am one) value wild food and hunting/fishing honestly and with integrity. Check it out.

  17. Marshall

    Very well written.

    I only take issue with the efficiency portion of the discussion.

    For many of those organizations listed as very efficient, they take in a massive ammount of money from major donors or members through membership fees. Meaning, the pool of money they generate on an annual basis is quite large, which offsets the overhead component of their business. Overhead is part of life. Non-profits need to hire good employees (talent), they need to have an appropriate number of staff, keep lights on, put gas in vehicles, etc. Overhead happens and discouraging it, for the sake of efficiency, can weaken an organization.

    Only giving money to organizations that are efficient can (notice, I did not use the word “will”) leave other good organizations that are just as worthy of donations and do great things for wildlife and habitat out in the cold.

    DU member.

  18. Guy

    Thanks. As we learned when DU and TU were formed, the hunter and angler are the first and best defense against species extinction and habitat preservation. We’ll tax ourselves, donate what we can, work many hundreds of voluteer hours, vote, talk, chastise, and promote to preserve the wild places which host the wild things we love.

    To those of you “adult-onset outdoorsfolk”, welcome, come join us! We range across the spectrum in all demographic groups, but our share of that love transcends all that other nonsense.

  19. Kevin

    Call me narrow minded but when i read Richard’s comments especially “The Republican Party is flat out insane etc” i got a little ill. I am far from a typical Republican but to claim to be a hunter/gun user and identify with the Democrats seem counter productive. Normally i don’t care what people say in blog situations but come on “Dick” open your eyes. If the Republicans are insane it is only because they have a shred of hope for the future of this country. If they are insane; Democrats are, at best, sheep.

  20. Rachel

    Hank, thank you for this! Just wanted to add two things:

    If you would rather support local organizations, look at land trusts and watershed associations as well as the local chapters of national organizations, like Trout Unlimited.

    Habitat conservation organizations can use your money AND your time. By joining these organizations, you can find out about interesting, fun, impactful and rewarding volunteer opportunities. Here are just a few examples: catching fish for PIT tagging for population studies, monitoring water quality, surveying your favorite hunting or fishing spots for invasive species.

  21. Nick Myers

    Well said, Hank.

    And I would add that if there is a cultural and political divide between “traditional” hunters and the new arrivals, that divide will only continue to deepen if the two groups (simplifying here for the sake of efficiency) don’t begin a dialog. Sportsman conservation groups are the perfect starting point for that dialog and provide the all-important common ground needed to begin a meaningful conversation between cultures that may ultimately benefit both groups.

    I am a life long hunter and fisherman, but I stand decidedly to the left of the majority of my fellow members in Trout Unlimited, The Ruffed Grouse Society, etc. when it comes to national politics. Nevertheless, I am out there in the field working on real conservation projects side by side with my fellow members. We don’t agree on everything, but we do agree on conservation and preservation and I have never felt unwelcome or disrespected.

    Remember, the roots of meaningful conservation and environmentalism in this country first found fertile ground among sportsmen and women, not among the urban intellectual elite.


  22. Hank Shaw has another great essay.

    […] Why You Should Join Habitat Organizations | Hunter Angler Gardener Cook Reply With […]

  23. James Marchbank


    Just found your blog and love it. I started hunting 4 years ago to get closer to my ingredients in the kitchen and love it. Bunnies and ducks first as they are some of my favorites. This year I harvested my first Elk, fantastic experience. I wanted to add an organization to your list:

    Backcountry Hunters and Anglers:

    These folks do a lot of good work with managing (limiting) ATV excess and road access for backcountry hunting. This is a serious issue where I live in Colorado since much of the state is cut up by old mining roads. It’s getting harder and harder to find roadless areas to hunt in our country.

  24. Jane H Bryndel

    Just started following you on FB and reposted an article on hanging pheasants on our North Central PA Pheasants Forever #630 page.

    I love this article on joining your local or national habitat organization. I’ve been an active member of PF for a dozen years. We have an awesome group of volunteers out here in PA. Not exactly the pheasant promised land but we are doing our best to improve habitat along with the PA Game Commission on old strip mines transferred into new game lands. Acres and acres of tough land transformed into excellent habitat for pheasants, rabbits, deer, turkey,… And many non-game animals as well.

    We introduce dozens and dozens of youth to bird hunting through our fall PF Mentored Youth Hunts where we introduce kids to hunting safety, conservation responsibility and, if they’re lucky, harvesting a few birds.

    Our most rewarding program is our PF Youth Outdoor events where we take handicap and challenged youth on outdoor adventures. We include the family and make it a entire weekend of fun and food. This group is touching hearts and changing lives!

    Do we love what we do? YES!
    Could we use some help? YES!

    Join – volunteer – donate – get out there and make a difference!

    Thanks for all you do for the sport!

  25. Hank Forester


    You left off the conservation organization for the most hunted game in the country the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). Their mission is to “ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat & our hunting heritage”.

  26. This Week on Good Food: Cooking with Pine, Curtis Stone in the Kitchen, Tex-Mex Dip | Good Food

    […] 7. Hipster Hunters–Hank Shaw writes the award-winning blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His most recent book is Duck Duck Goose. He discusses an emerging generation of younger and more urban hunters who are looking to forge a closer connection to the meat they consume. Read more about it here. […]

  27. Karen Boeger

    Hope you’ll add Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to your recommended list of worthy conservation organizations. We have a number of “adult-onset” sportsmen joining our ranks, including many women and families.

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