Senior, experienced hunters have played a prominent role in earlier hunting communities such as the Eskimos, San, American Indians and South African pioneers who revered and respected these members of their communities. These older hunters might only hunt occasionally but they are an invaluable source of knowledge and experience. Through their campfire stories from past hunting excursions they transfer valuable information to a younger generation of hunters, ensuring that the hunting culture lives on.
How does the earlier hunting culture compare with the modern hunter? Owing to urbanisation only a small percentage of people worldwide depend on hunting as a main source of income or survival. Therefore, large portions of the world population, especially in developing countries, have very little or no exposure to the natural environment and very little understanding of the interdependency between man and nature.
In modern times, hunters distinguish themselves as individuals with extensive knowledge and understanding of sustainable utilisation. The average person lacks the knowledge or is uninformed about the role that responsible hunting plays in conservation. The message about the hunter's role in sustainable utilisation cannot be over emphasised. Every hunter should strive to convey this message and educate those in his community, friends, family and anyone else around him. The senior hunter is a very important link in the knowledge chain. They can make an enormous contribution in enriching our hunting activities with their experiences and traditions.
These fountains of wisdom can add value to SAHGCA branch activities if opportunities are created for them to participate in member meetings and social events where they can share their experiences with other members. Some of these senior hunters may no longer be in a position to travel to activities. They might have handed over their firearms to children and grandchildren or sold them because they no longer have use for these firearms.
I can imagine that these senior hunters are longing to be part of hunting activities, even if only in a limited manner. Senior hunter may not be physically able to shoot anymore, but being at the shooting range on a branch shoot can mean a lot to them. They can interact with other hunters and exchange experiences. They can look at and hold a rifle again, smell the oil and gunpowder, hear the shots: everything that awaken their senses and recall some of their priceless hunting experiences.
Make an effort to invite older hunters, arrange transport where necessary, and involve them in activities. It is a small token from your side, but a huge reward to the senior hunter that adds quality to his life.
Sharing knowledge and experiences has many benefits to both the novice and senior hunters.