I have been hunting since I was 10 years old and tagging along with my grandpa before that. I have been a volunteer with and nonprofit organization called OE4A (Outdoor Experience 4 All) for the last seven years as well. We take kids who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses, kids with disabilities, kids of our fallen heroes, and Wounded Warriors out hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and camping.
I attended the ADBSS trip to Montana in 2016 where I got a better chance to learn about conservation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Afterwards I made a presentation at school and a blog post about all I learned. My presentation was about my personal experiences with hunting. I also included factual statistics about how hunting helps the environment and the people living around the world. In case some people didn’t know how hunting worked, I explained how everyone gets a tag in a certain unit. Game and Fish only give out a certain amount of tags each season for each unit. The number of tags for sale is determined by the carrying capacity of each area. I explained that some people refuse to go without a tag and decide to hunt illegally. This is called poaching,
I then went on to explain what would happen if people did not hunt. If people did not hunt, the animals would overpopulate. This would cause the population to go over the limit of the carrying capacity for each area. The animals would then eat all of the food and proceed to starve to death after there is none left. Animals that are underfed become weak and are not able to fight off diseases. Soon, the entire species in that area would be filled with disease and be hunted by predators. The predators would be so populated and have so much food that the prey would all die off. In my presentation, I gave examples of how the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation restored the elk populations in many states in the United States. I gave the example of the state of Kentucky. In the mid-1800’s, the elk died off in many areas. In 2001, they placed 1,549 elk in a hunting unit. Since then, they calculated a total of 10,000 elk in the herd. Included with those reports, I added the amount of money that hunters contribute to wildlife conservation groups each year, which was $8 million.
My passion is hunting and I love to teach others about the benefits of spending time in the outdoors and contributing to the careful management of our wildlife and habitat.
Haley Weiss, age 17 – Phoenix, Arizona