For many sportsmen and women the summer months are spent staring at a calendar and crossing off days until the fall hunting seasons start back up. Online sportsmen forums are filled with posts titled “100 days till deer season” or “Only 60 more days till the dove opener” and posts on Facebook or Twitter by your hunting friends often read “Going out to shoot the bow, is it November yet?”
Although the summer can be a dull time for sportsmen it is an excellent opportunity for sportsmen to work to protect their hunting rights. Here are a few easy things you can do to help protect your hunting rights.
Get to Know Your Elected Officials
During the dog days of summer most state legislatures are either out of session or on summer recesses. Currently, more than 40 states are either on recess or completely done with their legislative session for the year. This means lawmakers are spending less time in the capitol and more time in their districts campaigning and visiting with constituents.
It also means that they are more available to meet with you. In election years (like this year), they want to meet and talk to constituents because they want your vote.
Take this opportunity to call and schedule a short meeting with your state lawmaker in their district office. You don’t need to prepare an extensive agenda or presentation. Instead, use this opportunity to introduce yourself and tell them how much you value your hunting and outdoor traditions, and a talking few hunting stories is enough.
Just getting to know your elected officials can play huge dividends when a hunting, fishing, or trapping related bill comes across their desk. If your elected official already knows you, you’ll carry more weight when you call or visit them with concerns and it’ll make it much harder for them to vote for taking away your hunting rights.
Become the Expert
Once you’ve established a relationship with your elected officials, the next step is to become their hunting, fishing, or trapping expert. Most lawmakers have full time jobs outside of Capitol – and they face hundreds of issues a year on a wide variety of topics. This means they may not fully understand issues that are important to hunters. (Even if they are a hunter themselves, they still may not have a good idea of why a proposal is good or bad.) This is where you come in! You want to be the person that your lawmaker thinks of when an issue is up for debate. Be their source for information. You can be sure the anti’s will be trying their best to be the source for “facts.”
Becoming the expert isn’t that hard either. Let your elected officials know that you hunt, that you care about hunting issues, that you would be more than happy to be a resource for them if any hunting issues come up, and then follow up. Additionally, invite them out to events at your local rod and gun, or conservation club.
Make sure to be one of the calls your official receives when hunting issues are being debated. Call even if it isn’t an issue that threatens your right to hunt. If you’re providing them with accurate and useful information they’ll look forward to your call and use you as a resource in the future.
Being your officials’ expert will give you an inside track to the legislative process and will go a very long way in protecting your hunting rights.
Other Ways to Use the Summer to Protect Hunting
Here are a few other examples of things you can do this summer to help ensure that future generations can enjoy our hunting heritage:
- Recruit a new hunter, angler, or trapper to go hunting on an Apprentice Hunting License
- Take a newcomer to a hunter education class
- Invite elected officials out to club meetings, shoots, and family days
- Host a shoot or fundraiser to benefit the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
- Volunteer to help youth learn about hunting, fishing, trapping, and shooting at a Trailblazer Adventure Day close to you
What do you do in the summer to protect your hunting rights?