The Thanksgiving holiday is now in the rear view mirror with Christmas in the windshield. It seems as if it’s one of the few times of the year people actually do take a few moments to give thanks. But has anyone ever considered being thankful for a hunting or fishing license?
I have never been one to drive around town looking for the best bargain or cheapest price on a particular item. On the other hand I am not one to carelessly open my billfold and let greenbacks fly with total disregard of cost. Yet I have never complained about purchasing any type of Indiana fishing and hunting license, even when prices increased. (Yes I was one of the foolish who waited too long before purchasing the no longer available lifetime license.)
People talk about being thankful for our freedoms but has anyone ever really thought about the opportunities hunting and fishing licenses provide. They are about as American as they come. Think about it. They give us legal permission to convert a very public resource into a very private commodity. Wildlife in the state of Indiana belongs to all Hoosiers, whether they reside on public or private lands. But when we have the proper permits tucked in our pockets it allows us to take fish and wildlife for our own personal and private use.
Talk about a bargain. A $24 deer tag allows us to put pounds upon pounds of venison in the freezer. Who else but hunters and anglers can take public property and convert them into your own exclusive stash of fillets and backstraps.
In a way, these licenses can also be considered a social contract, a confirmation of public trust, one which we are rewarded when we do things the right way. Most of what happens in the woods or water takes place out of sight of everyone and we are entrusted by the public to operate legally and ethically.
Unlike some revenue streams where total allocation can’t be controlled, license money can only be used for wildlife conservation. So when we purchase hunting or fishing licenses we become a direct partner to help fund wildlife management for both game and non-game species. Bald eagles, wild turkey, deer and otters are just a few to benefit.
Another revenue source comes from federal excise tax charged to manufacturers for the boating, hunting and fishing equipment they produce. Funds from the tax are apportioned back to state fish and wildlife agencies based on the number of license holders living in the state. Indiana received $48 per hunter and $9 per angler in 2014.
When enjoying our rich tradition in the right manner, individual hunters make a big contribution towards ensuring the future of many species of wildlife and habitat for the future. The best friend any wild animal ever had is the hunter who exercises their personal freedoms to stalk the woods, meadows and marshes with bow or gun in hand.
Hunting is also important for a variety of cultural, ecological and economic reasons. So when you notch your deer tag, stuff some pheasants in your vest or fillet a few fish don’t just think about the meat you are getting. Think about the awesome freedom and responsibility you are exercising and take a moment to think about everything you are really getting.