In one of the latest fundraising pleas from the world’s most powerful animal rights group, the Humane Society of the United States intentionally misleads readers about legislation moving through Congress that protects the rights of American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters:
Unfortunately the vast majority of elected officials are not hunters. So it is up to sportsmen to convince them why they should care about our issues. Of course there are roughly 20 million hunters in America, so that is a huge start. But what about the many candidates for office who represent areas where we just don’t have a lot of sportsmen and women?
If you live in one of these places you need to be armed with some good reasons why your elected official should care about hunting. For many of them, hunting just doesn’t seem like a big deal. Many dismiss it as a second-class issue.
Here’s why hunting is in the same class as the economy, jobs, healthcare, and the budget: Continue reading →
It’s election time again. And all over America various interest groups are discovering that our local politicians do in fact still know we exist. And more important, that they think just like us. Now is the time of year when the congressman who normally wears the $1,000 Brooks Brothers suits gets the Starter jacket featuring the logo from the area’s prominent NFL team out of moth balls, and shows up at the local sports bar to make sure we all know that he is just like us.
As hunters we ought to be familiar with this song and dance. Over the next six months we will see plenty of freshly creased flannel shirts and shotguns, that have not been used enough to open easily, broken awkwardly over shoulders. And while all of this conversation takes place with us “regular folk,” young Washington DC staffers who look 15, but are actually probably 25, will be snapping photos to be used in campaign brochures, emails and websites.
That’s a direct quote from Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the world’s largest animal rights group, the Humane Society of the United States during a debate with me over legislation that would ban hunting black bears in California using hounds.
I’ve never heard anyone state the commitment and purpose of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance more succinctly. I’ll explain:
Anti’s Strategy: Find the Weakest Link
The anti’s strategy, including the Humane Society of the United States, is the same as it was back in 1978 when our organization was born.
They identify a form of hunting that has a lower number of participants.
They bet that the majority of hunters will not come to the aid of their brethren.
They co-opt the urban media to portray that form of hunting as particularly cruel and unsporting.
They stir up the emotions of well-meaning city folk to contact their legislators.
They use all of these to pressure politicians to vote to take our hunting rights away.
Recently, we announced new Families Afield numbers that show more than three-quarters of a million apprentice hunting licenses have been sold across the country over the past six years.
I was feeling mighty proud. As USSA’s point person on Families Afield I spend a significant amount time thinking about getting new hunters involved in our sport and working with state legislators to make that happen. After going home that day feeling good about the success we’ve had and the new hunters we’ve created… I was met by the cold reality that I had missed the trees for the forest. In this case, the tree is my longtime girlfriend.
History teaches that the guys who hold the high ground are in the best position to win the battle. Hunters and anglers hold the moral high ground – our legacy of bona fide fish and wildlife conservation stands unmatched. But that won’t win the battles against our opponents in the anti-hunting lobby. To win we need to hold the political and legal high ground too.
We’re all too aware of the strategy by HSUS, PETA, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and others to bar hunters and anglers from federal public lands. They peddle a mix of disinformation, junk science, and outright lies about hunting and fishing to convince lawmakers, and the public, that our traditions are out of date and have no place on the public domain.
The classic 1888 poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer made me think of important lessons for sportsmen who want to Protect What’s Right when we are under attack.
The “mighty” Casey was the star player of the Mudville baseball team. With Mudville down big in the ninth he is their last hope to win the game and goes to bat with two outs. Casey’s so confident that he’ll have the game winning hit he just ignores the first two strikes, not even lifting the bat off of his shoulder. On the third pitch, his demeanor changes, he digs in, takes a mighty swing, and …strikes out.