As a rule, my husband and I aren’t a fancy couple. We like our jeans and t-shirts, we’re okay with dirt and sweat, and we live, happily, in a home built in 1970.
But, of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
Earlier this year, we received an email from the Department of Game and Fish advertising the 2017 New Mexico Governor’s Special Hunt Auction & Banquet. It was one of those fancy dinners where each attendee/couple pays X amount of dollars for a meal, entertainment, and the general experience.
Typically, Robin Hood and I would see an email like that, shrug, maybe roll our eyes, then go out to dinner and a movie. But those clever Game and Fish folks dangled a carrot that we found hard to resist: Steven Rinella. According to the email, he would be the keynote speaker at the banquet.
Steven Rinella, if you’ve never heard of him, authored a terrific memoir/cookbook/treatise called Meat Eater. He now has a YouTube channel and various other media notches on his belt. He’s a bit of a celebrity in the hunting and fishing world, and Robin Hood pretty much has Meat Eater memorized.
In short: we bought tickets.
It was a lovely evening. We got a copy of Meat Eater signed by Mr. Rinella, who proved very gracious in the face of my rushed, clumsy attempts at banter, and we put our names down for a few items in the silent auction. None of them panned out, probably for the better, since I can’t even remember now what I put bids on. Then we ate our fill of surprisingly tasty food (or maybe not surprisingly? I don’t know, maybe all of these banquets have delicious food and I’ve been missing out), and sat back to watch the live auction.
I’ve never been to a live auction before, so it was 1) entertaining, and 2) mind-boggling. The auctioned items ranged from a purebred hunting puppy to a fishing vacation to numerous hunts around New Mexico, and bids climbed into the thousands…and thousands…and thousands of dollars. Yow.
Here’s what I kept reminding myself, though: the proceeds went to the New Mexico Youth Conservation Foundation’s First in the Field program. Before that evening, I had never heard of it, but now? I’m proud to live in a state that has such a program. Basically, it takes folks – both kids and adults – who want to learn more about hunting or fishing or the outdoors in general, but lack the resources, and gives them the chance to do so. At NO COST to them. Pretty phenomenal, huh? If you live in a state that offers something like this, please look into supporting it!
It was a refreshing experience. Fundraising aside, the number of people in attendance, and the passionate messages delivered by Steven Rinella and the other speakers, felt reassuring. That evening reminded me that there are, even when it doesn’t seem like it, many, many people out there who care about the environment, who care about its conservation and stewardship, and who care about passing those values on.
Worth every penny.