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Editor’s Letter – January/February 2024

My Thoughts …

The launch of the Fish & Game initiative ‘REWILD’ got me thinking about the depth of experiences you can have fishing and hunting. The REWILD initiative is about sharing our love and passion for the outdoors and for hunting and fishing; as I’ve said for many years and in dozens of editorials and articles, our future depends on motivating and inspiring the next generation of hunters and gatherers. Although what we love about hunting and fishing is an entirely individual metric, when we’re explaining it to others, it’s important that we touch on the variety and expansive nature of the hunter gatherer life. To do it justice, we must explain about the adrenaline-filled moments as well as the quiet, peaceful experiences which, to the uninitiated, sometimes seem at odds.

Generally, when we talk about the regeneration of our spirit or wairua, we’re referring to time spent amongst the beauty and majesty of nature, free from distractions and modern-day stress. During the quiet moments on the hill, surrounded by a stunning mountainous vista, or quietly casting into a crystal-clear river mouth emptying into a forest-lined lake, it’s hard to worry – and the regenerative effect on our health is well studied, documented and undisputed.

The opposite of the reflective, quiet moments are the adrenaline-filled deer stalks – where that elusive trophy stag is finally within shooting range after a tense stalk where a swirling wind tried to undo all your efforts. Or hours can be spent with eyes glued to a luminescent piece of wool as it bobs its way down a river run; then the indicator suddenly dives, you catch the timing of the strike and are rewarded by the heavy feeling of an unmistakable large trout that refuses to accept that it’s hooked.

Although hunters are often a solitary bunch, the banter-filled laughs with good friends in a backcountry hut surrounded by the glow of a lantern and the warm heat of a fireplace or campfire are food for the soul. You only go into the hills with the absolute good buggers in your life who are trustworthy, dependable and great company.

There’s also the pride and confidence that comes from being able to put food on the table – fresh, clean, healthy meat – and the knowledge that no matter what the economy brings, your hunting skills will supplement your whanau’s diet all year around.

There are so many experiences and benefits aside from just harvesting food, and whatever facet you enjoy, remember that initiatives like REWILD only work if we’re prepared to share our experiences – not only the large moments in an outdoorsman’s life but also the quiet, thoughtful, peaceful experiences where the magic of the outdoors fills your cup, nourishes your soul and recharges your spirit.

Stay safe and shoot straight! 

– Dave Benfell

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