From Labels to Shared Values: Conservation within the Outdoor Industry

Hunt To Eat Owner Mahting Putelis gave the keynote speech at the 2018 Colorado Outdoor Industry Leadership Summit on Friday, October 5th. The event was attended by industry leaders from across the state, government officials and entrepreneurs.

In the opening minutes of the speech, Mahting explained his history with wild places, spent not only as a hunter, but as an outdoorsmen experiencing nature through a variety of activities.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m skiing or running, or hunting. I’ve learned to suffer in wild places. I even find it fun. During my adventures, I’ve learned about the places I live. I engage my sense of wonder. And I build a sense of place,” said Mahting.   

After moving to Colorado and becoming more involved in the hunting community, Mahting said, “I found that the hunting industry did not seem to have a representation for the type of person I am. So I co-founded Hunt To Eat. It’s a brand focused on delivering cool, everyday apparel to the modern hunter.”

The designs are conservation, conversation starters. At Hunt To Eat, we help both ourselves and other hunters put our best foot forward. “We are a go-to source for organizations to get their message out.”

Hunt + Gather

“Consider that if you eat meat, you are a hunter. Consider, that if you eat vegetables, you are a gatherer. I take no exception if you choose to hunt and gather with gun and spade or if you choose to hunt and gather with dollar bills. I do continue to encourage you to develop a deeper relationship with the food you eat,” said Mahting.

“Knowing your food and the systems that put that food on your plate can be an act of conservation.”

The room is filled with dog-lovers, backpackers, climbers, mountain bikers, anglers, runners, hunters, people who ski and snowshoe, people who canoe, RV, ATV. There are overlanders and boaters.

Practically every type of outdoors person is in the room.

But as Mahting points out, we are each our own group, with labels. And each of these labels has their own NGO and coalition(s). However, we need far more reaching coalitions to realize our political might. So let’s move past these labels and move towards shared values.

Shared Values

“I believe that we as an industry can unite around these shared values of protecting wildspaces and animals, protecting clean air and clean water.”

The Outdoor Industry is an $887 billion dollar industry. Mahting asks, “What does that actually mean? Who does that include?”

The numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis report nowhere near this amount and include groups not typically associated with outdoor industry conversations.  

But the point is not the numbers. The point is, there is not a single voice that represents each of us in the outdoor industry.

Mahting also brings up an alarming fact: The amount of money spent on government affairs by major players in the outdoor industry is miniscule compared to what is spent on Marketing.

“Outdoor leaders must become as dedicated to the success of the collective fight as they are to the success of their own business enterprises.”

Call to Action

Mahting closes the speech with a call to action to the audience-at-large, reminding us we must be representative of the greater community, not just our own community. And one of the biggest ways we can start, is to learn from others who are radically different from us.

Hunt To Eat has started by hosting events called “The Gathering,” during Outdoor Retailer, one of which collaborated with Patagonia, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and New Belgium. In January, there will be a gathering of thought leaders organized by Hunt To Eat to further discuss how to move forward in uniting the outdoors industry.

“I welcome all of you to have a seat at the table. Because we have much to do.”