CEO Notes

Winter is Coming

The cool temperatures of fall always make me a bit anxious if my pantry is not full of the summer’s bounty, the freezer is half-empty and the woodpile is low. I am much more content with a home or camp that is well stocked and well prepared. In addition, being a self-reliant soul, I try to maintain my tools so that I can take care of my own needs. These values and the self-reliance instinct are ingrained in me, and I suspect are shared by many of you.

As I hear the intensified discussion around guns, I have come to think about this principle of self-reliance as a core difference among those who debate the issue. My father was an Eagle Scout, and my mother enjoyed fishing. My folks taught me early on that we were responsible for our own safety and well-being. We spent a lot of our vacation time in the Northwoods of Michigan, and being snowed in was a blessing. We had warmth, food and light; card games, books and jigsaw puzzles were prime entertainment.

As an adult, I still nurture this value of self-reliance. I enjoy and, in fact, crave a bit of primitive discomfort so that I better appreciate the daily comforts more. Knowing basic survival skills — the skills of growing a garden, cleaning a fish, butchering an animal or splitting wood — makes me feel confident and content. However, it is easy to forget that some in today’s society take these comforts for granted. For others, their daily comforts are not quite as comfortable as mine are.

While they undoubtedly feel the same discontent as I do when money is running short or they have an empty pantry, many in our country have never learned the skills of self-reliance. They have not learned to grow and can their own food; they have not caught or killed their own dinner; and they have no way to heat their home when power or fuel is not available. They have become strangers to the land and the tools — be it a hoe, an axe or a firearm — that provide for them. It is hard for me to understand being this vulnerable. For those who have not used these tools (especially firearms), it’s easy to see why they fail to recognize how important these tools are to my feelings of security and independence.

So how do we bridge the gap between those who fear firearms and those who value them? I hope we can start with informed conversations about self-reliance and independence for individuals and our country. Our efforts to recruit new hunters is another great way that the NWTF is working to bridge the gap. At their core, these programs are about empowerment and instilling the value of self-reliance. Participants learn that the joy over making a clean kill on an animal is not about blood and death, but rather a celebration of the circle of life. Enjoying a dinner from your hunt makes the meal so much more than just good food.

We have overcome much in the short history of the United States, and when others have threatened our values, we have always been able to put aside our differences and support one another. I pray we can start by trying to understand our differences and work together to make all Americans more secure and self-reliant.

May your pantry be full and your woodpile high as we head into winter.