As the sun rises over the hills and the sound of breaking twigs echo in the distance, Mark Richards takes a deep breath and readies his rifle. A seasoned hunter who has spent his entire life in the outdoors, Mark is one of the most experienced hunters in the game.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with him to learn more about his passion for hunting and his thoughts on the current state of the hunting community.
FGR: How long have you been hunting, and what inspired you to pursue this as a passion?
Mark: I have been hunting for over three decades now. Growing up in a rural area, hunting was just a part of my lifestyle. My dad was an avid hunter, and the moment I was old enough to tag along, I knew that this was something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life.
FGR: What is your preferred method of hunting, and what kind of challenges do you usually encounter?
Mark: I am a big fan of bow hunting, and I also love using a rifle. Bow hunting is challenging, as you need to get up close and personal with the animal, and it requires a lot of patience and skill. But that’s what makes it so rewarding. When it comes to rifle hunting, the challenges vary depending on the game and the environment. But I always strive to hunt ethically and make a quick, clean kill.
FGR: As an experienced hunter, what advice would you give to new and amateur hunters?
Mark: Patience and preparation are key. Take the time to study your game and learn as much as you can about it. Be patient and don’t rush. And always hunt ethically, using the right gear and respecting the environment.
FGR: What are your thoughts on wildlife management issues, and how do you approach ethical hunting practices?
Mark: Wildlife management is crucial for the preservation and conservation of game animals. As hunters, we have a responsibility to respect the laws and quotas put in place to maintain a balance in the ecosystem. And hunting ethically means that we should always aim to make a quick, clean kill and minimize any suffering.
FGR: Can you speak to the environmental impact of hunting and the importance of conservation?
Mark: Hunting, when done ethically and sustainably, can have a positive impact on the environment. For example, hunting helps control the population of certain animals, prevents overgrazing, and can provide funding for conservation efforts. As ethical hunters, we should always strive to minimize our impact on the environment and follow the principles of Leave No Trace.
FGR: What is your most memorable hunting experience, and how did it influence you as a hunter?
Mark: One of my most memorable hunting experiences was when I was bow hunting for elk in Colorado. It was early morning, and I was set up in a tree stand overlooking a clearing. Suddenly, I heard something moving in the bushes, and a massive bull elk stepped out onto the trail. I took the shot and made a clean kill. That experience taught me the importance of being patient, prepared, and always ready to take the perfect shot.
FGR: Have you used any new hunting gear or equipment recently that you’d recommend to other hunters?
Mark: I recently started using a new range finder that I’m really impressed with — the Vortex Optics Ranger 1800. It’s compact, lightweight, and has a great range. This scope definitely a great addition to any hunter’s gear bag. I typically use this optic when I’m hunting blacktail or mule deer.
FGR: How do you deal with distractions when hunting, especially in today’s technologically-driven world where devices are often competing for our attention?
Mark: When hunting, I make a conscious effort to leave all devices behind or turn them off to minimize distractions. I also choose hunting locations that are remote and without cell phone coverage to disconnect completely and stay focused on the hunt. That’s where I find the best bucks anyways.
FGR: Can you share a bit about the mental and emotional preparation that goes into hunting, especially when it comes to making quick, ethical decisions?
Mark: Mentally and emotionally, it’s essential to be prepared to make quick, ethical decisions when hunting. This means being both physically and mentally fit, as well as having sharp observation skills to read the animal’s behavior and movements. I also practice visualization techniques to prepare myself mentally for a successful hunt.
FGR: In your opinion, what are the most important policy changes or advancements that need to be made in the hunting industry to ensure the protection and preservation of our natural resources?
Mark: One of the most important policy changes necessary in the hunting industry is to increase awareness and education on sustainable hunting practices. This includes stricter enforcement of hunting quotas, more educational resources for hunters, and increased funding for conservation efforts. Additionally, more focus should be placed on responsible land management practices. I’d like to see stuff such as the use of prescribed burns to maintain ideal wildlife habitats.
FGR: Finally, what are your thoughts on the future of hunting, and do you see any opportunities to grow the hunting community?
Mark: I believe that hunting will always be a part of our culture and heritage. It’s up to us as hunters to promote ethical and sustainable hunting practices. We must educate the public on the importance of hunting for conservation efforts. There are also opportunities to attract more diverse groups of hunters and introduce more people to the sport through education and outreach programs.
As our interview comes to a close, I’m struck by Mark’s passion for the outdoors and his unwavering dedication to ethical hunting practices. He is a true inspiration to the hunting community and serves as a reminder that hunting, when done properly and sustainably, is an art form and a way of life.
Have any thoughts you’d like to share?
We’re always on the look out for bright minds and innovative perspectives. I’d love to hear insights, experiences, and ideas from those who are passionate about the outdoors and conservation. With this in mind, if you’d like to be featured in Fish and Game Report, please reach out and let us know! We’d be happy to chat.