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The Sportsman's Season

The gift of hunting or fishing is still something special and those who don't participate may never even know what theyre missing, unless those of us who do participate take the opportunity to share it.

Currently, efforts to bring new sportsmen, women and especially youth into the fold is one of the most pressing issues in the field of resource protection. The lack of new blood in the traditional outdoor sports is a looming crisis in conservation education. Experts have identified the need to cultivate the next generation of environmental stewards.

Corky Pugh, Director of Alabamas Fish and Wildlife Department, explains that as a result of dwindling sales in hunting, fishing and trapping licen-ses, the revenue stream is drying up!

Essentially, we are selling nature, Pugh suggests. And we have to do a better job of cultivating the next generation of customers.

Todays children are tomorrows hunters, anglers, hikers and boaters. They will set the policies. They will identify what is important. They will vote, Pugh continued We must change our priorities, for there is not a deer, fish or turkey that ever bought a license or voted. We must engage young people in ways that resonate with them.

Despite the allure of a multitude of modern electronic attractions, there remains inside every person an innate need for the natural world. There is a component of our human essence that requires such exposure according to Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University entomologist, who coined the term "biophilia," which refers to humans' "love of living things," our innate affinity with the natural world.

The theory holds that humans are hard wired with a need to have close contact with the natural environment as a result of eons of our development as hunter-gatherers. Modern medicine is just now discovering how these processes affect our everyday lives.

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