Before I begin, thrown on the table is the fact that I realize there will be worthy organizations to which I fail to allude. Said admission shared, please understand this comes not from a lack of respect; but a severe lack of brain activity within my cranial cavity. This, by no means, should point to any perception of favoritism on my part. I have simply learned to deal with, and accept, the intellectual limitations I have been dealt!

Now to the point of these meanderings. The fact that you are putting forth the effort to flip the pages of “The Iowa Sportsman” is evidence of your interest and love of the nearly limitless outdoor endeavors we are afforded here in Iowa. Be it hunting, fishing, camping, etc., we need to take a step back and recognize the fact that most of these adventures would not be available, were it not for the dedicated efforts of a very unique group of organizations.

Heading the list, in my opinion, is the “National Rifle Association”. The organized, and closely choreographed approach the NRA takes to protect our 2nd Amendment rights truly makes possible the opportunities we possess. Be it hunting, target shooting, collecting or personal protection; the NRA is centered on assuring these rights are not interfered with.

In more “subject direct” areas, we simply need to take a look at such organizations as: “Whitetails Unlimited”, “National Wild Turkey Federation”, “Pheasants Forever”, “Ducks Unlimited”, “Safari Club International”, and Wild Elk Foundation (just to mention a few) to see the direct level of habitat and harvest opportunities which are the direct result of their philosophies and efforts. Without the hard work of these dedicated groups, many of us could very easily be locked out of the fantastic adventures we hold so dear.

The outdoor world in which many of us grew up in, has changed irreversibly over the last 30 years. The age of the small, locally owned family farm has for the most part been kicked to the curb. With the large corporate enterprises buying-up the acres we once trod upon, the day of pulling into a barnyard and simply asking permission to pursue our species of choice, has pretty much been lost in the mist of days gone by. This scenario will never be returned to our psyche! Without the unselfish efforts of the aforementioned organizations our rights, and acres, would most certainly be headed down the dark road of doom.

These thoughts having been shared, I am still puzzled as to why so many of my fellow outdoorsmen choose not to become involved in said groups. The financial investment is extremely minimal and the rewards have probable blue ribbon potential! I am currently a member of the NRA, NWTF, and WU. This choice isn’t meant to be a slap in the others’ jaws, simply the three I’ve decided to become involved with at this point. In the past, I have been known to send my checks to DU, PF, etc. All of these organizations are just as active and needed as the next.

Through my involvement, I have met some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable individuals with whom I have broken bread. Be it helping to plant trees, putting in food plots, volunteering to help in hosting a banquet, or simply taking part in a banquet as a participant; the rewards are immeasurable.

For a social gathering in which the entire entourage holds the same interest, one would be hard pressed to outdo a fund-raising banquet in support of any of these foundation blocks of our favorite past-time. The evenings are relaxing, congenial, fun and there’s always the potential to win raffle or auction items……..and I haven’t even mentioned the extremely flavorful table fare!
An extremely high percentage of the funds raised through the efforts of these people go directly toward local wildlife education, game and habitat management, and positive legislation.

Thus, the next time you find yourself trudging through fresh snow with a full game-pouch of ring-necks, back to shag-bark hickory going toe-to-toe with a strutting foe, helping a buddy field dress his winter’s supply of meat, taking in a bit of target shooting, or admiring the latest piece added to your fire-arms collection… sure to thank your lucky stars for the interest and dedication of others, and make the effort to become financially or personally involved in the quest to support those who support you.