Sunrise at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota. Regulated seasonal hunting is permitted at more than 330 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts, in keeping with conservation objectives. Photo by USFWS
For millions of American families, the hunting conservation ethic is a way of life to be passed on proudly through generations.
The DeSpains of Arkansas and the Johnsons of Minnesota are two such families. They enjoy hunting at and near Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, respectively.
In this week’s National Wildlife Refuge System feature story, “Generations of Hunters,” they explain why hunting is important to them.
Jenny Johnson, left, with daughters Ally and Rebecca and the girls’ grandfather. “I want to teach them love and respect for the world around us, not just seeing it through the eyes of social media but to see it firsthand,” Jenny Johnson says. “Being out there firsthand and experiencing the hunt gives them the kind of love and respect that is hard to learn otherwise.” Photo courtesy of the Johnson family
Hunters like the DeSpains, Johnsons and others help conserve natural resources. Ninety-eight percent of the price of Duck Stamps purchased by hunters and other conservationists goes to acquiring wetland habitat on national wildlife refuges.
Hunters also bolster the overall economy. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey estimated that 13.7 million people spent $33.7 billion hunting in United States in 2011, the most recent year from which such data is available.
Will DeSpain at age 14 in 1995. Hunting teaches gun safety, he says. “It makes you responsible. It’s not easy … You may hunt two or three weekends and not even see a deer … It takes patience and respect for the outdoors.” Photo courtesy of the DeSpain family
“Generations of Hunters” is part of the Refuge System’s series of weekly online stories that use photos to highlight the conservation work and visitor opportunities at national wildlife refuges, wetland management districts and marine national monuments. A new story is posted on the Refuge System front page each Wednesday. Past stories are archived here.