I believe it was Sheryl Crow who once said "a change would do you good". Now I don't know where Sheryl stands on hunting and furbearer conservation practices, but I think she was on to something with the whole "change" thing.
Since the summer of 2014, this website and the subsequent "brand" it became, has blossomed into a household name in New Hampshire and the greater Northeast with regard to advocating for Sportsmen's rights and the regulated activity of trapping. There has also been an underlying theme throughout the years with my criticism and advocacy, and that's to promote the sustainable use of natural resources, our inalienable natural-born rights to live a self-reliant lifestyle, and the championing of science-based wildlife management activities. In particular, there's one concept I try to beat into every single one of your skulls routinely with every stroke of my keyboard, and that's the essential and frankly irreplaceable partnership between wildlife managers (state agencies and biologists) and sustainable-use conservationists (hunters, anglers, and trappers). Its an amazing system of checks and balances in which those of us in the field (hunters, anglers and trappers) contribute at great length to those charged and tasked with maintaining a healthy ecosystem. I don't need to carry on about the concept here, as the website and navigation bar above is riddled with examples and concepts to prove my point.
In four short years, this website and my articles contained within it have been shared internationally on blogs, radio stations, club magazines, podcasts, and newspapers. My staunch support of regulated sustainable activities like hunting and trapping have spread far and wide, and even spilled into biology labs, state agencies, and the inboxes of our political leaders. Most importantly, I've managed to attain the majority of these accomplishments in the wee hours of the night, outside the constraints of a demanding full-time job, with scotch in hand and completely void of financial donations or monetary support from anyone. I don't mention all of this to brag, I point it out as a testament that at least some of what I present has merit, since so many seem to be "tuning in".
Sustainable Use. Protect The Resource.
While my writings have been solidified deeply in hunting and trapping advocacy, my feelings and fire-bellied rage to fight also applies to the hands-on conservation of wildlife, and in particular, the furbearing species in which I pursue and engage with every winter. While many in the "tourist" state of New Hampshire are out skiing and snowmobiling, I'm traversing the back-country and less traveled paths, discovering what makes the mink bound and the fox dive. I came to a realization early on in my trapping career that the activity of trapping is simply the vehicle in which I am utilizing to better understand the natural world around me. In nature there is life and death, there is also hunger and survival. Its a landscape that is raw, unforgiving, and also beautiful. The hunter and trapper know the words in which I speak, and its something that is understood by one another. For the trapper, the furbearing species in which he/she pursues, and the lands in which they traverse must have conservation. As users of the natural land, we must protect and watch over these irreplaceable resources in a sustainable manner. Our regulated take of wildlife comes with a price: we must do everything in our power to conserve these resources for our future generations. Whether it be addressing nuisance wildlife conflict, assisting state agencies with meaningful data, or input regarding habitat health, the trapper is always giving back ten fold for what he/she takes from the wild.
Taking Back Conservation
Did I go deep enough there for you? Hunting and trapping activities in the modern world play an integral role in the conservation of natural resources - there, I made it a bit simpler. Since the enrollment of The North American Model of Wildlife Management, these concepts have always been at the cornerstone, and more recently science has proven that this model of "user play/user conserve" has worked. Even though the North American Model is a conservation success story, our resources are still threatened everyday by habitat loss, expanded human populations, and the waste created as a result. Now more than ever, hunters and trappers must remain on the landscape as the watchdog foot-soldiers of the natural world. The pursuit of a hunt or the placement of a trap takes skill and a full understanding of your target - concepts and details that are often overlooked by other recreational activities like hiking, or wildlife watching.
As time marched on, many special interest and anti-hunting groups began to plunder the term "conservation". Its not uncommon today to find media outlets referring to "conservation groups" as those who attack state biologists, promote hatred for hunters and trappers, and promote an ideology which seeks to "preserve" and abolish any and all sustainable use practices regarding natural resources. This type of ideology isn't conservation in the literal sense of "conserving" natural resources. Its a concept that is more akin to "preservation" and restriction to these resources. To put it blunt, with regard to wildlife, conservation is not preservation.
Part of the motivation for a re-branding of this website was a direct desire to take back the idea and terminology of conservation in the "wild sense".
The Road Ahead
Its been pretty clear lately that Live Free And Trap has outgrown its title in recent years. What once was created as a podunk response to “fight” against the growing local animal rights social media presence, and their off-base accusations in New Hampshire (and a play on the state's Live Free Or Die motto), has now become a true grassroots movement spanning an entire continent. I’ve grown tired with a constant back & forth pissing match between the two camps - and instead want to focus on the benefits regulated hunting/trapping promotes conservation, as well as bring focus on a species of wildlife that doesn’t often get enough recognition - furbearers.
The question I finally asked last year was, "how do I properly convey the motives of this brand, and achieve a more robust and all encompassing message through the brand"?
Hence the creation of Furbearer Conservation:
The logo: featuring the pine tree, a symbol of rebellion and independence in New England during the Revolutionary War, which was flown by colonial merchant ships dating back to 1686. The beaver, a fur bearing species of aquatic rodent responsible for creating and developing North America, and arguably our first form of currency. This aquatic rodent also symbolizes the true essence of wildlife conservation; as the once threatened species now flourishes under the watchful eye of regulated trapping activities. For the name: the term "furbearer" - coined by trappers and utilized today by biologists to describe wildlife species which contain desired fur. Conservation: to conserve these resources and advocate for their sustainable, regulated use for the future.
So there you have it boys and girls, I have emerged from my dark cocoon a full fledged "sustainable-use-advocating" butterfly. You'll notice the pages and navigation have changed slightly, with new resources and concepts added. I have a few new edits and page additions coming soon to fully encompass the type of message I'm looking to promote.
Those of you who know my story and what I stand for will be comforted in knowing that while the overall message and theme has changed slightly, I have not ceased any support or advocacy for regulated hunting and trapping activities. I've simply broadened these horizons, matured my message, and incorporated a very integral and important part of my own trapping activities and morals.
Tight chains brothers and sisters.