Conversation Around Coolers

The snowball of social media seems to have avalanched recently with a buzz involving a large civil rights association and a successful outdoor cooler and accessory company.

I feel very comfortable writing on the subject as I am neither a current member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) nor do I own a Yeti cooler. Let me clarify by saying my reason for not patronizing either is not due to any violation of my core values or ethical code, it's simple economics. Thank you student loans. 

As I glanced at a couple of social media outlets this evening, I started to see a theme amongst the hunting and outdoor community denouncing the separation of ties between Yeti and the NRA. I kind of feel lucky that I don't have a dog in the fight and didn't have a need to, if I owned one, haul my Yeti cooler to the dump while live-streaming on Instagram. But to be honest, the coolers I use now probably should be delivered there. 

I didn't find much in my search for concrete reasoning for the Yeti disconnect, but did see in almost every article reference to a mass email sent by the NRA to its members. While I can appreciate the loss of a sponsor to any organization can hurt, i'm surprised to see how the NRA decided to communicate the situation. If the quotes pulled from the email are accurate, this was the NRA's communication-

"Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI has declined to do business with The NRA Foundation saying they no longer wish to be an NRA vendor, and refused to say why.  They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation.  That certainly isn't sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed.  They have declined to continue helping America's young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities.  These activities enable them to appreciate America and enjoy our natural resources with wholesome and healthy outdoor recreational and educational programs."

My question is, what is the purpose of the communication? In a time where hunter numbers continue to decline and the NRA is at the forefront of protecting the 2nd Amendment, why incite any internal conflict? I donate my prints to events every year in support of Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Boys and Girls Club, Hospitals, etc. Each of my framed prints can range in value from $200-$500. Every time I donate to a new organization, I know that I will be solicited again for their next event. Some years I simply cannot donate to each organization and have to turn down requests. Now lets parallel this with the NRA-Yeti issue. When I deny an organization, would they blast a message to their members calling me out for "not supporting" them? Would I be expected to explain my reasons for not supporting that organization?

Again, it seems that details regarding this issue are limited, which reinforces my question regarding why this communication would be sent out in the first place. If Yeti had taken a stance against any principles of the NRA then I could appreciate clarification, but in this case i'm struggling to understand. Outdoorsman need to come together now more than ever. We need to be able to appreciate everyone's stance while we advocate for land preservation, environmental protections, hunting + fishing, and conservation efforts. Internal conflict will only hurt everyone's initiatives.

As a side note, a very quick search revealed that Yeti is a supporter of Pheasants Forever, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Fishing League Worldwide, Quail Forever, American Rivers, QDMA, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Ducks Unlimited to just name a few. I'm not sure the support of these organizations would meet the label of not "sportsmanlike."

That's a Wrap

Looking out the window the fog covers, like a thick blanket, the surface of Collins Pond. Rain is falling and the temperature is rising while I reflect on the end of this hunting season. 

Delaware's youth waterfowl hunt brought the waterfowl season to a close today. My 8 year old son Atticus (AJ) and I hunted this morning. We were provided an opportunity at a pair of wood ducks but as luck would have it, they were too close! As we sat in a tussock, just off the edge of the pond, the pair of woodies darted in and landed not 10 feet from us. There's no doubt a mere blink of our eye would have flushed them so an 8 year old, teeming with adrenaline, was certainly not going to be disguised. As AJ raised the single shot 20 gauge, screeching pierced our ears and they were gone. AJ slowly pulled his hat over his face and began to cry. 

I knew those tears, I had been there before. Emotions were mixed for me. AJ and I had rowed the canoe out in the dark, we threw out decoys, we listened to whistling wings as shooting time neared, and had two ducks pitch perfectly into our spread. I was overjoyed with the experience, but had to console my son. The term, "that's why they call it hunting and not killing" was on the tip of my tongue, but I refrained. 

While i'm eager to see my son holding his first duck, part of me is satisfied that he was not successful. I reflect on my early hunts which were plagued with failure. Those failures early in my hunting pursuits only made my successes even more gratifying. The tears didn't last long and soon we were on to looking for more birds.

We wrapped up this waterfowl season with a memory and while it cannot be mounted on a wall, the memory is a treasure for me and I hope AJ as well.

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