Hunting Heritage

Joe Schuster | March 30, 2011


In choosing to be a hunter, it’s really important that you understand some of the basic concepts of wildlife management. What is wildlife management, and why do we need hunting regulations? Wildlife management is often said to be the attempt to balance between the needs of wildlife and the needs of the people. As hunters, we are “conservationists.” We try to use wise principles to balance and maintain our renewable resources — game animals.

In the early 1800s, many species of wildlife were almost driven to extinction by overhunting as settlers moved West. Elk, bison, bear and whitetail deer were among animals favored not only as a source of food, but for their hides as well. With no restrictions, turkey, wolves and other animals also were suffering the same fate. These animals would have disappeared had it not been for a couple of people who stepped up to change this direction.

One of the earliest examples of a hunting regulation dates back to 1639, when Rhode Island closed the hunting season for white-tailed deer from May to November of the year. But it was not until the 1920s and 30s that wildlife management started to take hold. 

Aldo Leopold was one of the early pioneers of this concept and wrote a book in 1933 called Game Management, which defined this as, “the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use.”

Another person was Gilbert Pinchot, who was the first chief officer of the United States Forest Service. He was known for reforming the management and development of forests
in our country. He also was a strong
supporter of conserving our nation’s reserves by planned use and renewal. He called it, “the art of producing from the forest whatever it can yield for the service of man.”

President Theodore Roosevelt was another one of our pioneers. Here was a guy born in New York City, educated at Harvard and Yale universities who somehow developed a love for wildlife and the shooting sports. He spent a good portion of his life pushing for hunting regulations and conservation groups to manage our wildlife. Roosevelt said, “There is no season of the year when the country is not more attractive than the city; and there is no portion of the wilderness, where game is found, in which it is not a keen pleasure to hunt.” I could not agree with him more!

In 1937, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act) was passed in the U.S.  It placed a 10 percent tax on the sales of guns and ammunition. These funds are then distributed to the states for use in wildlife-management activities and research. This law is still in effect today, and last year contributed $749 million to the fund. You should take pride that hunters and recreational sport shooters have contributed more money than any other group or organization to aid in wildlife conservation.

Next month I’ll tell you about our local hunting heritage. It can be
said that one man played the largest role in bringing back the whitetail deer herd. You’ll learn about how hunting regulations in Georgia have changed over the years and some interesting facts that you probably did not know. I can’t wait to share them with you.


This Month’s Hunter Quiz

Hunter Safety “Quick Quiz” of the Month; What is the name of the first professional wildlife biologist employed by the state of Georgia?

For kids 16 and younger, send your answer with your name and address by postcard to: The Outdoor Outpost, c/o Joe Schuster, 3974 Ryans Lake Terrace, Cumming, GA 30040. You can also email the answer to [email protected].

The winner will be picked at random from all correctly submitted answers, and he or she will win a prize. We’ll print the answer next month.

Good luck!

Last month’s question: Who was the first American to suggest that the wild turkey be our national bird?

Answer: Benjamin Franklin.



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