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Hunting can create bonds among friends and family, with the hunt becoming a social event.

Since the beginning of time, hunting has been a positive part of the human landscape.

Although its purpose may have changed slightly over time, the many benefits that hunting provides are not that different from it provided our ancestors. In fact, the purpose of hunting today may be even more important than it was then.

Our earliest ancestors were hunters, and they left behind the tools of their trade to help us piece together their bond with the land and its inhabitants. Hunting benefited their societies in many ways, just as it does today.

The modern hunter faces an interesting paradigm. Although what drives us to take to the field today is somewhat different than our ancestors, the benefits hunting has on society are seen in many ways. Many people still rely on wild game to provide protein for their families, but something more is at play when we spend millions of dollars and countless hours annually to participate in hunting.

SOCIOLOGICAL BENEFITS: For many, hunting is about family traditions. It is a way for us to connect with family and friends that is not found in any other activity. This is one of the many reasons our ancestors made sure hunting was a part of our lives today.

Excitement is also at the top of the list. After all, why would you spend time and money on something that you did not find enjoyable? And the challenge of hunting is also a lure to thousands annually. For many Americans, we crave the sort of challenge our ancestors had to endure on a daily basis.

Hunting also has important psychological benefits to humanity. Studies have proven that people who are in touch with nature and spend time in the natural world generally do better in life than those that do not. Research on youths suggests those who spend more time outdoors participating in such pursuits as hunting generally do better in school and are more successful at building relationships.

Although people hunt for many reasons, they do so within the boundaries of legal methods developed over many years. It matters not why they hunt; they must make use of the animals they harvest. Regardless of their reasons, hunters carry out their activities in a regulated, ethical and beneficial manner.

ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS: At the start of the 20th century, our nation was at a crossroads. Our wildlife was in peril and few knew how to do anything about it. Thanks to the regulated sport hunter, we made decisions that provided for management and funding of the most successful model of conservation the world has ever known — the North American model of conservation.

Hunting provides billions of dollars to help conserve our nation’s wildlife. In Nebraska alone, hunting, fishing and trapping provides more than $25 million to conserve wildlife annually. Without these important funds generated by hunters, wildlife would not be as abundant as they are today. Hunters have saved wildlife and habitats, regardless of the reasons they hunt.

BIOLOGICAL BENEFITS: Hunters are critical in helping manage wildlife populations. They represent the only tool in wildlife management that can accomplish this while providing billions of dollars in revenue to support our conservation model.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS: The annual economic impact of hunting in Nebraska is more than $848 million. In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act created a new fund for the purpose of conserving our nation’s wildlife by providing revenue from an excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition and now archery equipment and fishing tackle. It supported the state fish and wildlife agencies that are charged with the management of our wildlife in a public trust.

Regardless of the motivations behind each hunter, they do so with solid support for ethics, responsibility, attention to regulations and a worldwide footprint that serves to enhance our outdoor heritage for generations to come.

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Jeff Rawlinson is the education manager in Game and Parks' Communications Division. Contact him at 402-471-6133 or jeff.rawlinson@nebraska.gov. Read his blog, Lock, Stock and Bedlam, at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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