Wilderness and the hunt - Preserving the experience of a wild world

By Corey Lewis, bow hunter

The term “Wilderness” originally comes from our Celtic and Gaelic ancestors in the Old World. Literally translated from these roots, it means “a place where wild animals live.” Although we have much more specific criteria for what constitutes Wilderness today, our protected Wilderness Areas still fit this ancient definition, as they are, indeed, the last few places in this country where the wildest animals still live. Wilderness areas provide the largest, best-protected islands of habitat for all wildlife, game and non-game species alike, and thus constitute both the heart of the current hunting industry and its only hope for existence in the future.

Our planet is currently facing the highest rate of extinction it has seen in over 65 million years, since the cataclysmic extinction of the dinosaurs. This stunning and irreversible loss of biodiversity is caused by human conversion, degradation and fragmentation of habitat. The most effective way to combat this loss of habitat, and to support healthy game populations, is through Wilderness designation. As the science of Ecology and Island Biogeography have shown us, punching a road through formerly roadless wildlands fragments and degrades habitat, isolating different populations of the same species and making them more vulnerable to disease, famine, genetic in-breeding, and a host of other causes of extirpation. The best way to protect game and non-game populations of wildlife is, then, through Wilderness designation.

For hunters, Wilderness Areas not only provide the largest, healthiest and most stable populations of game species, they also provide the most unique and enjoyable outdoor experiences. Although the American Frontier is closed, the spirit of Daniel Boone lives on inside many American hearts, just as the last vestiges of that frontier continue to live on in our Wilderness Preservation System. We need Wilderness not just to preserve viable game populations to hunt, but also to preserve the experience of the hunt itself. We need Wilderness to remind us not just of what was here before, but also of who we were, and who we still are. For when we hunt, we are filling our spirits in addition to our bellies. We are hunting for ourselves as much as for our prey.

With a higher percentage of undeveloped public land and more mountain ranges than any other state, Nevada offers quality habitat for wildlife, such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, chukar and other game species. Nevada wildlands also offer quality hunting for sportsmen looking to challenge themselves against exceptional opportunities for hunters to pit themselves against the landscape and their quarry for the highest quality hunting experience.

Help preserve Nevada’s habitats, wildlife and hunting opportunities

  • Join Friends of Nevada Wilderness. Your support will help us protect habitat and the hunt in the following ways: work with Congress to designate more wilderness areas in Nevada; volunteer to restore habitats in wilderness-quality areas around the state; continue to educate the public about wilderness and the necessity to protect wildlife habitat.

  • Urge other sportsmen and the Nevada Wildlife Commission to support off-road vehicle registration and controls in roadless areas across the state.

  • Urge fellow sportsmen not to drive into wilderness and wilderness study areas, because quality hunting doesn’t start until the engine’s turned off and the stalk begins on foot.

© by Corey Lewis
used by permission of author


Corey Lewis, an assistant professor of English at Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, is an avid bowhunter, wilderness enthusiast and former board member of Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

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