Preparing for the hunting season is a very exciting time. I have wonderful childhood memories of how my Dad and I packed our supplies and kit for the hunt into the Landrover with great care, the trip to the hunting farm (usually very early on a freezing winter morning), arriving and unpacking, and finally the hunt. My Dad, brother and I slept on a big communal bed in a sandy river-bed under the stars to be woken up by the noisy call of francolins. As a 14 year old, I experienced absolute joy and pride to be allocated a 1000 ha camp for the day in which to hunt. The responsibilities associated with this privilege are enormous, such as firearm safety and the constant reminder that you will have to account for every single shot that you fired!

In my day to day contact with SAHGCA members countrywide, I observed a very close bond between parents and children when families spend time together hunting, camping or on other outdoor activities. Unfortunately, many youngsters do not have access to these activities for various reasons, such as urbanisation, single parent families, and the rising cost of hunting and outdoor activities. Members, who have not yet exposed their children to this privilege, should try it. The return on that investment is immeasurable.

Was it your father, grandfather or perhaps an uncle who took the time to accompany a bright eyed youngster on his/her first hunt? The fond memories of both the person who took you hunting for the first time and the hunt itself, will linger with most of us for the rest of our lives. Those experiences made a major contribution to the person, conservationist and hunter you are today and contributed to the values that have been guiding your life ever since. The inherent passion for hunting, shooting and/or nature stems from these experiences. Consider sharing your passion for hunting and nature with youngsters in your community or family circle so they can also benefit from these enriching experiences.

As a hunter I know how valuable hunting time is for every hunter and how we treasure the time we can spend in nature away from our modern lifestyle. One of the most valuable “trophies” of hunting is the memories attached to it, in this case both for the mentor and the pupil. Our youth is the future. Nurture them. In the near future they will have to take over from us in more ways than one. Whether they will be equipped to do so, will depend on us, the current generation of hunters.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love;
we will love only what we understand;
and we will understand only what we have been taught.”
Baba Dioum, Africa