Staying safe while outdoors

Chris Ellis/For The Register-Herald 

During my recent not-going-anywhere-soon phase, I have found myself scouring the outdoor news for good stories. As a longstanding member of the outdoor industry, I like to think I have my pulse on all things related to hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation. Having said that, being grounded the last couple of months from traveling across this country attending events, hunts and media gatherings has me relying more on my close circle of industry friends to keep me up-to-date on the news.

And to be honest, I have to admit my buddies have done a wonderful job getting their news out while sitting around in their PJs and fluffy socks. In fact, some have stated that they have been even more productive under their home roofs. I am not too certain of that, but I am certain that some creative ideas have surfaced as of late.

For example, I recently read a wonderful idea and partnership between many wildlife conservation organizations to encourage folks to get outside while also being conscious of the pandemic and, ultimately, being safe. Folks like the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wild Turkey Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies are encouraging outdoors enthusiasts to take part in #ResponsibleRecreation, a media campaign encouraging Americans to enjoy outdoor recreation while adhering to proper COVID-19 safety protocols.

Whether participating in hunting, fishing, shooting sports or numerous other outdoor activities, the conservation community sees the #ResponsibleRecreation campaign as a safe and constructive way to encourage individuals and families to get outside and enjoy the outdoors as a means to cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting outdoors is one of the best ways to practice social distancing, as long as it is done responsibly. Staying safe outdoors during the pandemic means:

l Plan ahead. Purchase licenses and park passes online, if available.

l Recreate close to home.

l Adhere to best practices for avoiding COVID-19.

l Follow state and federal guidelines.

l Pack out your trash as a courtesy to others and to avoid the appearance of overuse.

l Share your adventures in a respectful way on social outlets.

l Purchase licenses and tags online and in advance of going hunting or fishing. Avoid overcrowding of public lands and pack out trash to avoid the appearance of overuse of public access points.

Be aware of all COVID-19 regulations in your state, and adhere to the best practices to avoid COVID-19 (even while in the woods and they are asking us to share our outdoor adventures in a light that respects the wildlife resources and social distancing restrictions using the hashtag #ResponsibleRecreation).

I applaud these wildlife conservation organizations for coming together to spread the great news of living the outdoor lifestyle. We, as West Virginians, are blessed to live in a state that has so many outdoor recreation opportunities. And with our abundant wildlife resources, there is always a reason to get outside in search of a fish to catch or a game animal to hunt. Go have fun outside and remember, be safe out there.

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