Nothing lasts eternally.
This common phrase is uttered regularly when losing opportunities and objects, large and small. The idea, however, that hunting could one day be completely a thing of the past is hard to fathom for those of us whose passion lasts a lifetime.
We are aware of declining participation and increasing opposition, but are we far-sighted enough to recognize the potential for finality?
Fortunately, some hunters are.
The First Hunt Foundation (FHF) works to mentor and mentor young hunters in hopes of ensuring a safer future for our hunting heritage. Rick Brazell is the president and founder of the FHF, which has more than 800 volunteers in 38 states. His hope is to have thousands of mentors in the future. Achieving this will require partnerships and money, both of which materialize.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) Hunter Leadership Forum has engaged with the FHF. Together, they created a “hunting heritage” endowment.
“The NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum is pleased to support the First Hunt Foundation,” said Peter Churchbourne, director of the NRA Hunter’s Leadership Forum, in a recent press release. “Our missions align, and it’s only natural that we partner to provide opportunities for new hunters to experience the empowerment and personal growth of hunting. I would like to thank the generous donors of the Hunters’ Leadership Forum for providing the funds that made this grant possible.
Combined with a $15,000 donation from Vista Outdoor, the NRA Hunter Leadership Forum was able to establish the first $50,000 for the endowment.
“Having the funds to start the endowment was great,” says Brazell, “but we also had to find the best way to manage and grow the funds in perpetuity. FHF can use 5% of the funds each year, so we needed to find the right institution to help it grow and become sustainable in the long term. We approached several banks and national investment firms, when I remembered that we already had a small endowment hosted by the MidwayUSA Foundation.
The MidwayUSA Foundation does more for youth sport shooting than any other foundation I know of. Based in Columbia, Missouri, the MidwayUSA Foundation supports approximately 2,800 youth shooting teams and 74 organizations that hold endowments with the foundation. In the case of the Hunting Heritage Endowment, donations may be eligible for matching through the MidwayUSA Foundation Matching Program.
Ashley Petersen, MidwayUSA Foundation Program Manager, said, “It is always an honor and a privilege to work with people like Rick who see the importance of sustainable funding for the future of shooting sports for young people. The impact of Rick’s hard work in raising substantial funds will impact countless young people who want to get involved in shooting sports for generations to come.
The fight for the future of the hunt is going to require much more financial support than the initial investment of $50,000. While this is a great start, it will take a lot of organization, and businesses and individuals working together to dramatically increase the staffing.
“We were thrilled to say the least, and I look forward to seeing all the people who will now get into shooting and eventually hunting through this endowment from the MidwayUSA Foundation,” Brazell said. “We all need to work together to make a difference. No organization can do this alone, and having the MidwayUSA Foundation on the team will help ensure that we can be successful in achieving our long-term mission.
If you would like to support the future of hunting and help grow the Hunting Heritage Endowment, please contact the MidwayUSA Foundation. Their website is www.midwayusafoundation.org. You can also donate directly to the First Hunt Foundation at www.firsthuntfoundation.org.
See you on the trail…
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or wherever podcasts play. Send feedback to [email protected]