By Gabby Zaldumbide
Stories from the field, digestible science, family-based expeditions, and tales of personal empowerment were just a few of the types of articles shared by our community in our blog over the last year. Here's a look at our top 10 blog posts from 2020:
10. Bears, in the Wild and in the Kitchen by Michael Cravens
"When I think of black bears, I think of wilderness. That’s because bears are synonymous with wilderness. Bears are an indicator species, when we have a robust population of black bears, we also have healthy ecosystems. In North America, black bears are flourishing. Because of effective wildlife management techniques, we are able to enjoy this magnificent species on the landscape as a functioning component of intact ecosystems and also in our homes as a healthy source of protein. Bear meat is delicious and a family favorite in my home. Not only do they provide healthy meat, but they also provide oil for cooking and fine pelts."
9. Lessons Learned by a Beginner Waterfowler by Michael Cravens
"Admittedly, my education in waterfowl hunting has been brief: just two seasons. I’m far from being in a position to teach others. With that said, I have been fortunate to spend these seasons hunting amongst some exceptional and very serious waterfowl hunters. Spending time with hunters of this caliber has taught me more in two seasons than I could’ve learned in ten going at it alone. Therefore, it would be nothing short of selfish of me not to share at least a little of what I’ve learned with other beginner waterfowlers. So, let’s have a look at just a few of the bigger picture items I’ve picked up."
8. Mary's First Dove: An Interview by Michael and Mary Cravens
"I’ve dropped hints through the years about us hunting together sometime. Until just the other day, Mary’s shown zero interest. I’m not sure what changed her mind; probably a little pouting on my part, but she agreed to go dove hunting with me. We went as a family and while there were plentiful opportunities and even a few birds put in the bag, only one of them mattered to me: Mary’s first dove. I interviewed Mary about her first hunting experience that explores the thoughts and emotions that come with the seriousness of killing of her first animal."
7. A Shift in the Wind by Josh Mills
"Growing up, many deer, bear, and elk were inspected, studied, and admired when they arrived home in the back of my dad’s truck. There were mule deer from the high country, elk from the rugged Blue Mountains, and big-bodied whitetails from everywhere in between. I yearned to walk in his footsteps and counted down the days until I passed hunter education. Then, it’d be my turn to carry the rifle. Or so I thought."
6. Plentiful Opportunities: Squirrel Ecology, Hunting, and Cooking by Paul McCarney
"Squirrel hunting might be where small game meets big game hunting. Squirrels have a fascinating ecology, offer amazing hunting opportunities, and make delicious table fare. I can remember occasions while hunting whitetail deer when I chose to swap out my deer rifle for a .22 and switch my deer hunt into a squirrel hunt. Squirrels are just that charismatic and squirrel hunting is just that fun."
5. "I am a Hunter" by Asha Aiello
"I’ve been hunting for roughly ten years. That may sound impressive, but the first few were mostly me traipsing around in the woods. I’d tag along with my husband (then boyfriend) as he taught himself how to hunt blacktails after growing up hunting whitetails in Michigan. I was loud, whiny, definitely not in shape, and had the wrong gear. You have to start somewhere, right?"
4. Harvest or Kill? Considering our Choice of Language in Hunting Stories by Paul McCarney
"I imagine that story-telling has always been an inseparable part of hunting. From cave paintings to social media, it's likely difficult to overstate the role that story-telling has played in the history of human hunting culture. Hunting is simultaneously solitary and social; philosophical and biological; physical and intellectual. I think story-telling plays an important role in shaping and conveying who we are as hunters. But what do the words we use to construct our stories reveal about who we are and how we see the world?"
3. Slippery Slopes: Climate change has dire consequences for Chugach Dall Sheep by Paul Forward
"The one time of year that we weren’t allowed to climb up into the cliffs was each spring when the Dall sheep ewes would come and lamb in the cliffs above the neighborhood. We’d check on them daily with binoculars and our whole family would get excited when the number of white dots started to increase with the arrival of new lambs. I could see them out of my bedroom window. One of my dad’s corniest jokes was talking about his kids “counting sheep” when going to bed."
2. Under the Surface: Rainbow trout conservation and pride in the outdoors by Justin Bubenik
"I view the rainbow trout as a great fishy symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. Aside from the obvious perfection of the 'rainbow' long being a symbol of the community, I drew a loftier connection to my own struggle as a gay man and the struggles I’ve seen so often repeated in and out of the angling and hunting community for LGBTQ+ individuals. Each struggle is unique and often stays internalized."
1. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable by Mike Neiduski
"The more I became involved in conservation movements and advancing hunting and fishing, the more I leaned into participating in D, E, & I conversations at work on a parallel train. But I quickly found myself cross-walking my work to the spaces of my passions. Never publicly, but those long internal conversations raged. I found myself stuck at the confluence of my work and hobby worlds with no idea how to navigate the river of their combination. And here we are, many in our community are now doing some of their own work, examining our institutions, our leadership, and ruminating on how to do better, how to be better in this arena. These things can no longer be kept separate."