Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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At a loss for a gift this season? Join a club

‘Tis the season for giving, and if there’s a hunter in your life for whom you’re Christmas shopping, you have my sympathies. Hunters are notorious gear junkies, and gifting the wrong item may be worse than no gift at all.

If you’re panicking and don’t have gift ideas for your hunter, consider giving him or her a membership to a conservation organization. If your hunter has a soft spot for a specific cause, your choice is obvious. But if you’re not sure into which organization your hunter would best fit, here are my suggestions.

An aside: a subscription to Outdoor News is a pretty nice stocking-stuffer, too! (

Pheasants Forever

I have to be totally honest: I’m not a pheasant hunter. I’ve hunted pheasants maybe twice, and there’s little chance you’ll ever find me chasing pheasants instead of deer. That said, if you want your gift to have a big impact on hunting, wildlife, or conservation in the state of Minnesota, you’d be hard-pressed to beat Pheasants Forever.

If your hunter utilized public land in the farmland region lately, there’s a good chance that PF is the reason that land is available. It’s impossible to overstate PF’s impact with the amount of public hunting land it’s opened to public access in the past decade. Even better, it’s providing public-hunting opportunities in areas that have historically lacked such places.

Apart from its public land initiative, PF recognizes that prairie and wetland habitat serves a much larger purpose than simply pheasant habitat. In recent years, PF has focused heavily on pollinators, which are recognized as indicators of grassland quality.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

An organization focused on supporting public-land access whether your purpose is hunting, angling, or hiking, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has become a powerhouse organization in the past few years with a diehard following. It’s a following it’s earned.

If you’ve hunted public land at all during the past decade, you’d likely agree that public hunting land is crowded now. This is not lost on BHA, and it’s committed to acquiring more public land while making sure we have legal access to land that is already publicly owned.

National Deer Association

If the hunter in your life is a deer hunter, and one who nerds out about all things deer especially, he or she needs to be a member of the National Deer Association, formerly the Quality Deer Management Association.

It’s truly difficult to top this organization when it comes to the promotion of sound deer management and the hunting tradition. Few other organizations take such an integrated approach to single-species management, but NDA encompasses habitat management, herd management, and hunter management in a neatly wrapped package that is digestible for an average hunter.

Though habitat and herd management are the backbone of NDA, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention its tremendous efforts the past few years in policy and advocacy to promote sound, science-based deer management.

Ducks Unlimited

Likely one of the most recognizable conservation organizations,
Ducks Unlimited has been a renowned leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation and protection. With more than 15 million acres conserved, DU has focused tremendous efforts on regions and habitats that are critical to waterfowl breeding success and, ultimately, waterfowl population sustainability.

DU recognizes that wetlands aren’t the be-all, end-all habitat type. DU also strongly promotes grassland restoration and protection, with the recognition that these areas are crucial not just for ducks, but untold species of wildlife that maintain these ecosystems.

National Wild Turkey Federation

Like the others mentioned on this list, the National Wild Turkey Federation takes an impressively holistic approach to conservation of its favorite species. Recognizing the interconnectedness of nature, NWTF has four shared values, which include: clean water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and robust recreational opportunities.

Not one to be left out, NWTF does a stellar job of promoting the outdoor lifestyle through numerous programs designed to get youth, women, and adult-onset hunters involved in turkey hunting.

Final thoughts; shop locally

If you’ve started to notice a trend among these organizations, that’s
because they are all phenomenal. Across the board, all recognize the
critical importance of habitat restoration/ protection, public land
access, hunter recruitment, research and science-based management, and policy advocacy to reach their goals.

Further, these are the largest of the conservation groups. There’s a plethora of locally-led conservation groups that are equally deserving of spots on this list. (The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association comes to mind.)

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