My Camo is GreenCatherine Thagard

 

When did "green" become a dirty word? It happened sometime between my childhood experiences learning to read Dr. Seuss's beloved tale about the Lorax and the Truffula trees, Al Gore's much-maligned global warming campaign, and the recent emergence of radical eco-litigation organizations. To many hunters and anglers, calling someone a "Greenie" has become a pejorative.

While sportsmen and women weren’t looking, extremist environmental groups usurped our right to be publically concerned about clean air and water, to speak up for sustainable fish and wildlife populations. Sportsmen today talk about these things in hushed tones and convoluted jargon for fear of being associated with these over-zealous organizations.  But don’t be fooled – my fellow hunters and I believe just as strongly in conserving the environment, we just call it habitat instead.

Backcountry hunters believe in the “pack it in, pack it out” philosophy, does this make us green? Sportsmen’s groups are stepping up across the west with both dollars and volunteer hours for projects such as guzzlers, fence removals and stream clean ups. Does this make us green? We care about an environment that will support sustainable – and yes, huntable – populations of deer, elk, turkeys, bears and all other fish and wildlife species not only for today’s hunters and anglers but also for future generations. Does this make us green?

Unfortunately, I feel like we have become the “vs.” generation, with a prevailing sentiment of "you are either 100% with me or 100% against me". We have forgotten how to work together with folks on areas of mutual concern and leave our differences respectfully at the door. Pitting consumptive users against non-consumptive users, as extremist groups at both ends of the political spectrum often attempt to do, is a losing proposition for wildlife and the landscapes they call home. We all have a stake in it, and it's going to take all of us to conserve it.

As sportsmen, it is dangerous to let partisan politics follow us into the field. We don’t allow the radical right to label all rifle hunters as “gun nuts”, so why are we silently accepting the radical left dictating that everyone who openly cares about the environment or conservation is anti-hunting? My husband, who is an avid lifelong hunter, is fond of the term "green conservative". By using it, he has become part of a movement where the sporting community is reclaiming the terms we use to describe ourselves and the things that matter to us. More hunters and anglers need to embrace this, and get over our fear of the color of the label.

President Theodore Roosevelt called sportsmen the original conservationists. I am extremely proud of this title and unwilling to meekly hand it over because I'm worried that people will think I'm a "bark eating, tree hugging, granola muffin". One look through my Facebook hunting album should be enough to convince anyone that this environmentalist hunts.

I am a hunter - and my camo is green.