The young hunter is Ryan Swenson, 13 years old, of Fremont, with his dad Jim. Jim explained that Ryan hunts turkeys with his grandfather. Last season was his second season of hunting. During his first season they called up a gobbler in shotgun range but a Sandhill Crane stood between them. Ryan could have taken a chance shot but passed on the gobbler as he walked out of range.
Jim advised that Ryan lives for the out of doors and hunting. This past youth season he harvested his first buck, then shot another buck during the archery season. During the rifle season he was able to fill his anterless tag. Jim said that Ryan has passed up many marginal shots at game. He has learned that there is great deal of responsibility when taking an animal’s life. Only wildlife that they will eat is taken. Ryan and his dad are also fishermen, both on frozen and open inland water. Jim said that during this past Christmas season Ryan and his grandfather were already planning their spring turkey season.
As a new hunter Ryan has shown maturity beyond his years. He doesn’t realize it now but in a few short decades it will be his responsibility and those of his generation to keep the tradition of hunting alive. Theirs will be the responsibility to fight for our natural resources and to insure that there will be wildlife for the next generations to enjoy.
There are many feel good programs for our kids, such as archery and shooting sports. Unless there are kids like Ryan that experience the sights, sounds and the wonders that they witness while in the field and become dedicated to preserving the natural world it will disappear in the very near future. We have brought our Wild Turkey program to hundreds of school children and adults too in an attempt to teach them an understanding and appreciation of those big black birds and the world in which they live. Most certainly we are planting seeds for the future but in the end it will be up to Ryan’s generation to determine the future of our natural resources and the future of hunting.
As our newest junior member, Ryan and his dad Jim left I watched them go with a twinge of sadness. Was I watching the last generation of hunters walking down the isle?