About Me

Landscapes and Letters is a space to discuss issues related to hunting and conservation and to reflect on my experiences with these topics.

In a collection of essays called The Heart of the Game, the writer Thomas McGuane recounts an imaginary exchange between a hunter and a non-hunter. The exchange goes something like this,

“What did a deer ever do to you?”
“Nothing.”
“Why should they die for you? Would you die for the deer?”

This exchange could be an internal conversation within a hunter’s imagination. It is part of a deeply personal, ethically loaded set of questions that I suspect many hunters have asked themselves as we all explore the meaning of hunting.

Background

My perspective on hunting and conservation has been shaped by a wide variety of experiences and people. I have a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies and my research looked at the social and ecological dimensions of wildlife research and management in the Arctic. I traveled throughout Canada’s north, across breathtaking landscapes and talked to people about their thoughts and experiences hunting and fishing.

I’ve spent over 20 years backcountry camping on foot and from a canoe. I started hunting as an adult and have been fortunate to hunt a variety of big and small game over the last decade.

I have been involved in a number of great social and natural science research projects in different parts of Canada. I have taught in the Ecosystem Management and Ecological Restoration Programs at Fleming College in Ontario. I have worked at the Nunatsiavut Government in Nain, Labrador, and for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I have met, worked with, and learned from inspiring people from a diversity of backgrounds about wildlife, culture, and hunting and fishing.

Connections & Dialogue

I want to see a future with wildlife on the landscape. To ensure a future with healthy wildlife and habitat, we need positive and thoughtful dialogue. Conservation is inherently bound up in social and political issues and we need to address these multiple considerations together. We cannot separate the human and ecological dimensions of wildlife conservation. I believe that wildlife conservation needs to be driven by the best available knowledge, including both science and local knowledge. I am interested in the processes we use to create that knowledge.

In Thomas McGuane’s imaginary conversation, the non-hunter and hunter exchange another interaction,

“I’m serious. What do you have to go and kill deer for?”
“I can’t explain it talking like this.”

We need to create the spaces for dialogue. I am interested in conservation that bridges disciplines, boundaries, and personal identities. We need conservation that brings together people from many different social and outdoors communities. We need to create a conservation community that is positive, inclusive, and represents a diversity of perspectives. We need conservation that transcends values, asking both “what should we do?” and “why should we do it?”

Inclusion & Justice

I am interested in connecting with people to create knowledge about wildlife. Hunting has changed my life and informed my perspective on conservation. My goal is to celebrate and explore the complexities in hunting and conservation. To effectively conserve wildlife, we need multiple groups of people to engage in meaningful dialogue.

I want to build relationships, collaborate to create knowledge about wildlife, and work towards effective conservation. I believe that a conservation ethic and social justice walk together and if we want a landscape full of healthy wildlife, we need a community that is diverse and inclusive. I am deeply committed to a hunting and outdoors community that is actively anti-racist, feminist, supports LGBTQIA2+ rights, and fosters an anti-colonial approach to conservation.

To summarize, I’ll simply rely on the hunter’s final response in Thomas McGuane’s conversation, which encapsulates what being a hunter-conservationist means to me,

“Why should they die for you? Would you die for the deer?”
“If it came to that.”

Start here

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