Nothing lasts forever.
This common phrase is uttered regularly upon the loss of opportunities and objects both big and small. The notion, though, that hunting could one day be completely a thing of the past is hard to fathom for those of us whose passion is lifelong.
We’re aware of declines in participation and increasing opposition, but are we forward thinking enough to recognize the potential of finality?
Thankfully, some hunters are.
The First Hunt Foundation (FHF) works to mentor and coach young hunters with the hope of ensuring a safer future for our hunting heritage. Rick Brazell is the president and founder of the FHF, which has over 800 volunteers spread throughout 38 states. His hope is to have thousands of mentors in the future. To accomplish this, it’s going to take partnerships and money — both of which are materializing.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) Hunters’ Leadership Forum has engaged with the FHF. Together, they have established a “Hunting Heritage” endowment.
“The NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum is happy 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 is only natural that we partner to provide opportunities for new hunters to experience the empowerment and personal fulfillment of hunting. I want to thank the generous Hunters’ Leadership Forum donors for providing the funds that made this grant possible.”
Combined with a $15,000 donation from Vista Outdoor, the NRA Hunter’s 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 needed to figure the best course 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 for the long run. We approached several banks and national investment companies, when I remembered we had a small endowment already housed with the MidwayUSA Foundation.”
MidwayUSA Foundation does more for youth shooting sporting than any other foundation I know of. Headquartered 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 to be matched through the MidwayUSA Foundation Matching Program.
MidwayUSA Foundation Program manager Ashley Petersen said, “It is always an honor and privilege to work with people like Rick who see the importance of sustainable funding for the future of youth shooting sports. The impact of Rick’s hard work in raising substantial funds will impact countless youth who wish to be involved in shooting sports for generations to come.”
The fight for the future of hunting is going to take a lot more financial support than the $50,000 initial investment. While a good start, it is going to take a lot of organization, and companies and individuals working together to grow the endowment substantially.
“We were ecstatic to say the least and I can’t wait to see all the people who now will get into shooting and eventually hunting because of this MidwayUSA Foundation endowment,” Brazell said. “We all have to work together to make a difference. No one organization can do it alone, and having MidwayUSA Foundation on the team will help ensure we can be successful in our mission delivery for the long term.”
If you are interested in supporting the future of hunting and helping to grow the Hunting Heritage endowment, please reach out to the MidwayUSA Foundation. Their website is www.midwayusafoundation.org. You may also donate directly to the First Hunt Foundation at www.firsthuntfoundation.org.
See you down the trail …
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed. Send comments to [email protected].