Thank Goodness Actor Chris Pratt Isn’t the Only A-Lister Who Goes Hunting

There’s a lot of brouhaha over actor Chris Pratt hunting. He’s not the only A-lister to harvest his meat.

As part of an unusual series gawking over famous actors bearing the first name Chris, actor Chris Pratt is very “problematic” and the most “divisive among the Chrises.”

In “How to love Chris Pratt without hating yourself,” TV Guide senior editor Kaitlin Thomas said Pratt the actor is better than the off-screen Pratt. How so? Here’s her reasoning:

When you take a deeper look at Pratt the man and not necessarily Pratt the actor, some of the shine wears off. Although he can be as funny offscreen as he is on — his recurring “What’s My Snack” videos on Instagram are almost always delightful — it’s impossible to ignore some problematic aspects of his life offscreen.

But wait—there’s more! She continues:

Adding fuel to this particular fire is the fact that Pratt, an avid hunter who has often spoken about his love of hunting, currently raises lambs on his farm*. The enthusiastic tone he took when speaking about “eating fresh farm-to-table lamb” in an* Instagram video earlier this year — “They are the happiest lambs on the planet, they are so sweet and then one day they wake up dead and they’re in my freezer” — sparked backlash from a number of fans, and not just those who are vegetarians or vegans. The next day, Pratt posted a photo of several pieces of fresh lamb meat and even compared said lamb’s death to something as easy or trivial as “unplugging a TV.”

Pratt is a hunter? And he raises his own lamb to eat? The horror, horror! Hollywood is shocked to learn that the actor, who comes from more humble beginnings, is like a good portion of the country. Millions of people go hunting in this country. Countless Americans, including A-listers, consume farm-raised, organic meat—but are far removed from the process.

And moreover, Pratt’s blue collar roots are ghastly, apparently:

The idea that Pratt doesn’t see himself — though he may come from a working-class family and spends most of his time on a farm, he’s also a successful, straight white man at the heart of two major film franchises — as being represented in television or film is ridiculous, as is the idea that working-class America isn’t well represented in Hollywood.

The “Jurassic World” star and former “Parks and Recreation” regular isn’t the only A-lister who harvests his own meat ethically. Plenty of other Tinseltown favorites go hunting.

Scott Eastwood, the son of Clint Eastwood who is making a name for himself in Hollywood on his own right, is an avid hunter too.

He’s pals with bowhunter Cameron Hanes and spoke to Men’s Journal about his love of the Great Outdoors—and his foray into hunting— in May 2017:

How did your love for the outdoors begin?

For a while I lived with my mother in Hawaii, so I have always loved being around the water. Then I moved to be with my father, and he was very much into fishing when I was younger. Some of my first memories of him are around fishing for trout in Northern California. My father was actually a state parks commissioner after he was mayor. I like to think I’m following his footsteps in that respect as well. That is why I am so into public lands issues, because they were a big part of my childhood.

More recently you got into bow hunting?

I picked it up a few years ago, but before now I went off and on. I’ve started to get into it more now and I recently got a new Hoyt. I am most excited to go on some bow hunting trips with Cameron Hanes. That guy is one of the most badass bow hunters of our time. I have been on a few hunts since then.

What do you like about it?

I think it is hunting on its highest level. People don’t realize you may go a whole season and not shoot a single thing. There is a lot of discipline involved. It’s very challenging because of how close you have to get. I think it’s the hardest sport we have.

Do you know who else goes hunting? Canadian punk rock singer Avril LavigneAerosmith’s Joe Perrymodel Rosie Huntington, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Plus former NBA star Shaq O’NeillKurt Russell, and reportedly Eva Longoria are known to hunt and process their own wild game. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actress Eliza Dushku apparently loves elk hunting, too. Nick Offerman likes the wild game Chris Pratt harvested for him, as well.

Hollywood is likely full of more closeted hunters. Why do people, including the aforementioned A-listers, hunt? To enjoy the Great Outdoors, to get organic meat, to help fund conservation, and teach values.

It’s refreshing to see this. Eat that, TV Guide.

North Carolina Adds Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment to State Constitution

This was one of the surprising wins of the night, and is a win for conservation!

 

North Carolina just became the 22nd state to enshrine the right to hunt and fish (RTHF) in its state constitution. At 99% precincts reporting, the ballot measure passed 57.18% to 42.82%.

 

This amendment will limit the state’s ability to unscrupulously “regulate hunting and establish hunting as the “preferred” means of managing wildlife.”

 

Here’s the language of the ballot measure spelling out how hunting and fishing heritage will be protected:

 

This amendment would acknowledge the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, and to use traditional methods to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife. The amendment does not define “traditional methods.”

 

This right would be subject to laws passed by the Legislature and rules (i) to promote wildlife conservation and management and (ii) to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. If it passes, the amendment will not affect any laws regarding trespassing, property rights or eminent domain. The amendment does not address its effect on local laws concerning public safety or on commercial hunting and fishing.

 

The amendment would also establish that public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

 

This ballot measure was heavily supported by National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and National Shooting Sports Foundation. It also won support from North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission.

 

It was heavily opposed by anti-hunting groups like the Humane Society. Governor Rory Cooper (D-NC) and North Carolina’s Democrat Party also voiced their opposition to it.

 

A lot of money poured into from anti-hunting interests to see this measure defeated—approximately $1.2 million:

 

As previously reported, Vermont was the first state to pass such an amendment in 1777. Since 1996, 20 more states adopted this amendment. Here’s what they entail:

 

Sportsmen in many states increasingly feel as if they are the ones outside the duck blind, and they are turning to state constitutions to ensure their hallowed pastime will continue in perpetuity. Increasing urbanization, decreased habitat, declining numbers of sportsmen, and more restrictions on hunting are common factors in the quest to assert the right to hunt and fish in a state’s most basic and difficult-to-amend document. On land that has been traditionally open to sportsmen, development of farmland and forests, along with pressure from other recreational groups such as hikers and off-road vehicles, is putting the pinch on the available land for harvesting game and fish…Opponents state that these provisions clutter a constitution and overstate the threat to these activities, while possibly limiting or increasing the amount and severity of restrictions that can be placed on sportsmen activities. The Humane Society states, “The constitution should guarantee fundamental democratic rights, not provide protection for a recreational pastime.

 

This is a win for conservation. I hope more states pass similar amendments to safeguard our hunting and fishing heritage.

Senator Heitkamp, Democrat Group Mislead Hunters on Licenses and Voting

With Kevin Cramer leading and expected to win #NDSen, his challenger and state Democrats are pulling this cheap shot.

 

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is the most vulnerable Democrat running for re-election in the U.S. Senate this cycle.

 

RealClearPolitics puts her race in the Likely Republican category and shows her opponent, Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND), leading an average of +11.4 points. The incumbent senator thinks she can recover after voting “No” against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and a consistent record of voting in-line with Senator Chuck Schumer. Good luck with that.

 

Since national and state Democrats are desperate to hold onto her seat, they’ve resorted to the worst tactics to save face. In fact, they are targeting hunters in the state with misleading messages about losing out-of-state hunting privileges if they vote next Tuesday. Huh?

 

A Facebook page associated with North Dakota Democratic- Nonpartisan League Party, called Hunter Alert, posted this ad. Note: the page was created two days ago:

 

When you click through the ad link, it goes to this message:

The group, North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party, is responsible. This group is closely affiliated with the national Democrat Party of America, making it their North Dakota wing. When you click the social media icons, it takes you to their Facebook and Twitter pages:

 

Sec. 1 To Develop and enact public policy that is beneficial to the people of the State of North Dakota and the nation;

 

Sec. 2 To promote the election of candidates of integrity to hold public office who are dedicated to serve the people;

 

Sec. 3 To inform the citizens of matters of public concern so the people are able to make decisions on the basis of fact;

 

Sec. 4 To encourage the participation without discrimination of as many people as possible in the political process.

 

Senator Heitkamp was recently pressed on the ad.

 

“I’m sure a lot of the kind of transition that people have on voting — it means that you are a resident,” she said. “It means that you pay taxes here. It means that if you want a residential hunting license in Minnesota, you aren’t going to get that if you vote here.”

 

The interviewer asks her, “Is that even true? Could you lose your hunting license if you vote?”

 

Heitkamp responded, “If your hunting license is a residential license in another state, so that’s one area where you see differences in how, you know, we do not treat in-state hunting licenses the same way as out-of-state hunting licenses in North Dakota.”

 

There’s no iota of truth to this statement. You only lose the ability to hunt out-of-state if you’ve been criminally charged with crimes that bar you from hunting altogether, misdemeanors related to wildlife crimes, or don’t renew your non-resident hunting licenses. You don’t lose your right to hunt IF you vote—especially if you vote for Republicans.

 

Republicans promote right to hunt and fish (RTHF) amendments and are generally seen as the “pro-hunting” party—especially as national Democrats get substantial financial backing from radical environmentalist groups and bundlers who are wholly opposed to hunting.

Heitkamp and North Dakota Democrats are pulling tricks to cast stones at Congressman Cramer’s momentum and it’s not working. Hunters and other voters will see through these shady tactics. Congratulations are in order to the future U.S. Senator from North Dakota, Kevin Cramer.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday. Will You Participate?

September 22nd marks the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day, which has been celebrated since 1972.

 

Saturday marks the return of the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day, which encourages sportsmen and women to promote true conservation efforts. It also serves as a perfect occasion to introduce someone new to hunting, fishing, and/or shooting sports.

 

It takes place every fourth Saturday in September, conveniently coinciding with the start of fall hunting season. This year, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will serve as Honor Chair of the event.

 

Sponsors of this year’s event include Bass Pro Shops, Realtree Outdoors, National Wild Turkey Federation, Yamaha, Ducks Unlimited, Wonders of Wildlife Museum, and National Shooting Sports Foundation.

 

This isn’t a new holiday. The idea was introduced to both chambers of Congress back in the 1970’s. At the insistence of the NSSF, Senator Thomas McIntyre (D-NH) introduced Joint Resolution 117 in June 1971 to authorize the annual holiday on the fourth Saturday of every September. Congressman Bob Sikes (D-FL) introduced a companion House version afterwards.

 

Congress unanimously passed these key pieces of legislation in early 1972. NHFDay.org’s website says President Richard Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day on May 2, 1972. The full proclamation reads as follows:

 

For many years, responsible hunters and fishermen have been in the vanguard of efforts to halt the destruction of our land and waters and protect the natural habitat so vital to our wildlife.

 

Through a deep personal interest in our wildlife resources, the American hunter and fisherman have paved the way for the growth of modern wildlife management programs. In addition, his purchase of licenses and permits, his payment of excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, and his voluntary contributions to a great variety of conservation projects are examples of his concern for wildlife populations and habitat preservation.

 

His devotion has promoted recreational outlets of tremendous value for our citizens, sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike. Indeed, he has always been in the forefront of today’s environmental movement with his insistence on sound conservation programs.

 

In recognition of the many and worthwhile contributions of the American hunter and angler, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 117, has requested the President to declare the fourth Saturday of September 1972 as National Hunting and Fishing Day.

 

Now, Therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Saturday, September 23, 1972, as National Hunting and Fishing Day.

 

I urge all our citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.

 

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-sixth.

 

I’ll be doing my part to promote conservation this weekend with my participation in an outdoor kids camp down in Virginia Beach, VA to benefit kids of active military members. Will you introduce someone new to fishing, hunting, or shooting sports this weekend?

 

Anti-Hunters Launch Attack on Former NHL Player Who Legally Harvested a Grizzly

Tim Brent is married to famed hunter Eva Shockey and previously played for the Carolina Hurricanes.

 

Hunters aren’t safe from social media scrutiny — especially when posting controversial yet legally harvested big game species like the grizzly bear.

 

Tim Brent, husband of hunter and author Eva Shockey, recently unveiled pictures from a hunt he did with his father-in-law Jim Shockey in the Yukon. He posted pictures of both legal moose and grizzly bear harvests from his recent trip in Canada. The grizzly bear picture unsurprisingly attracted the most scrutiny. One of the grizzly pictures was removed by Instagram and Facebook for allegedly violating Terms & Services. Here’s the one that was left untouched.

 

The bear picture wasn’t removed from Twitter. The caption reads, “Alright folks, here is my Mountain Grizzly! We put an awesome stalk on him but he spotted us at about 75 yards. Instead of taking off he turned and came right at us. It was very easy to tell this boar owned the valley we were hunting in and wasn’t scared of anything!”

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais — who is wholly opposed to hunting— tweeted his dismay with Tim’s grizzly bear harvest:

https://twitter.com/rickygervais/status/1040523082182680576

 

 

Brent, a former NHL player for the Carolina Hurricanes and Maple Leafs who retired in 2016, reported the death threats he received from anti-hunters on Twitter. The platform, however, said these threatening tweets don’t violate Terms of Agreements:

 

Most small and big game hunters agree that tasteful pictures of legal hunts shouldn’t be blocked or removed on social media—including those of big game species like grizzly bears.

 

While I personally would never hunt a grizzly bear — I hope to harvest a Virginia black bear one year since they are nuisances here — I understand the need to keep these grizzly bear populations in check with managed hunts. Hunters pay upwards of 60% of conservation funding in this country, so they play a crucial part in restoring wildlife populations and habitats. They spend more time raising funds for this compared to hunting, believe it or not.

 

​Hunting grizzly bears has been an especially controversial subject in this country and in Canada of late, as a federal judge recently put a four-week injunction on the planned managed grizzly hunt that was set to take place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on September 1, 2018. 22 grizzly tags were set aside for the managed hunt. Photojournalists and anti-hunters like Jane Goodall entered the grizzly tag lottery in an attempt to disrupt the hunt, with two activists landing a coveted tag of the ten available in Wyoming for grizzly season.

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) delisted the grizzly bear in this particular ecosystem in June 2017 because they determined its population has been restored. Wyoming Department of Fish and Game echoed and endorsed this move. Their website reads:

Yes, Game and Fish believes the states are best suited to manage wildlife. We are committed to maintaining a recovered grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area into the future….Wyoming has highly qualified grizzly managers with decades of experience managing bears and the citizens of Wyoming have already contributed over $40 million dollars to grizzly conservation and recovery. We need to recognize the commitment of Wyoming stakeholders such as sportsmen, ranchers, conservationists, outdoor recreationists and other users of the Greater Yellowstone Area.

 

This delisting solely applies to this region and no where else in the continental U.S. The managed hunts conducted by state wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists say, are necessary to put this population in check per the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation —especially since other species elk, mountain lions, deer and other wildlife are managed under it. The grizzly bear population there, they believe, shouldn’t get preferential treatment since it was determined to be not threatened anymore, per Endangered Species Act rules. It doesn’t need any more ESA protections in this region since they now exceed a population of 700.

 

In fact, grizzlies have been causing a lot of problems for farmers, ranchers, and most recently hunting guides since their population in that region isn’t in check. Two grizzly bears were rightfully euthanized after mauling an elk hunting guide to death over the weekend. This could be a consequence of the federal judge’s move halting the managed grizzly hunt.

 

This issue isn’t easy to discuss, but the nuances of managed big game hunts should be civilly debated. While grizzly bears are cute and adorable, their aggressive nature shouldn’t be diminished. Thanks to the Disneyfication of animals and rejection of science-based wildlife management practices that has transpired here over the years, we will sadly continue to see this animosity placed on hunters who legally and ethically harvest animals—especially big game species. That’s where hunters should unite and come together, because the anti’s will go after other wildlife species if they had their way. In fact, it’s our job to educate our fellow Americans about the misconceptions placed on certain types of hunting.

 

Tim Brent should be able to post his picture without retribution or fear from anti-hunters who call for his death. It would tremendously help if anti-hunters would hear out wildlife biologists and other conservationists before lashing out at the unknown.

It’s National Shooting Sports Month: Here’s Why It Should Be Celebrated

The 2nd annual month celebration highlights the importance shooting sports play in our economy and our culture.

August marks the return of National Shooting Sports Month. It was established last year to encourage more Americans to responsibly partake in the shooting sports. Those who preach the gospel of disarmament or fake gun safety won’t be willing participants, due to their desires to strip ordinary Americans of their rights to own firearms. Nevertheless, this month could be the perfect opportunity to show our opponents and those undecided what real firearms safety looks like.

What is National Shooting Sports Month? It’s hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — arguably the largest firearms trade association out there in existence. The goal of the month is to encourage even more participation in the shooting sports than what normally takes place year-round. Per NSSF, the reason behind establishing a month for firearms enthusiasts is this:

Firearms owners deserve a dedicated time that draws positive attention to their sports and its many benefits, and to simply serve as a reminder to make time to enjoy a day at the range whether by themselves or with a friend or family member.

NSSF also host the annual SHOT Show trade show that draws nearly 80,000 people to Las Vegas

Their goals for National Shooting Sports Month in 2018 are listed as the following:

  • 500 range/retailer hosting events/promotions
  • 50 First Shots events
  • 100,000 unique visitors to the Shooting Sports Month site
  • 50 Companies/Organizations serving as sponsors and partners
  • 10000 sweepstakes participants
  • Attract at least 5000 people new to the shooting sports
  • Reactivate at least 5000 lapsed participants
  • Social Media Campaign generation = 5 Million impressions, 50,000 engagements and 20,000 post clicks

It was affirmed by the Department of Interior last year, and President Trump also issued this proclamation in support of the occasion:

The proclamation reads:

During National Shooting Sports Month, we celebrate the wonderful American tradition of shooting sports. Shooting sports are a terrific reminder of our constitutional liberty and the attendant benefits that accrue to a free people: active friendship within families, between peers, and among communities, and the opportunity for Americans living in small towns and large cities to experience the bounty of America’s great outdoors.

Shooting sports help reinforce many of the bedrock values of our people, such as the free exercise of the Second Amendment. Mastery of shooting sports requires rigor, discipline, and training. State and local shooting sports programs—and instruction by trained family members and mentors—affirm the role of local communities as the primary teacher of the rule of law and personal responsibility.

This month, we recognize the sportsmen and hunters who practice and teach firearm safety and exercise proper stewardship of our land. Sportsmen and hunters not only help others to understand the responsibilities of owning and using a firearm, but they also ensure that our open space and natural resources are safeguarded. Under existing Federal law, for example, a portion of Federal excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition is dedicated to American wildlife research and habitat conservation. That is one reason why my Administration has prioritized making it easier for Americans to participate in shooting sports on public lands. By doing so, we are enhancing Americans’ ability to experience the unsurpassed beauty of our blessed Nation and we are better protecting our national treasures for future generations.

I encourage all Americans engaged in shooting sports to continue promoting a culture of safety and to continue exercising the responsibility and duty associated with the right to keep and bear arms.

 

Despite being maligned by antagonists and gun prohibitionists as perpetrators of crimes carried out by criminals, the firearms industry has a rightful place in society to promote safe and responsible firearms use. After all, they host firearms trainings and instructional courses. Can the same be said for Moms Demand Action or Everytown for Gun Safety? There are no links to gun trainings whatsoever on their websites. Talk is cheap.

Roughly 50 million Americans participate in shooting sports—of all ages, abilities, genders, or geographical regions. They participate in different forms of shooting, as described as “action pistol shooting, long-range rifle shooting, the shotgun clay target sports of skeet, trap and sporting clays, blackpowder shooting, Cowboy Action shooting and competitive shooting with handgun, rifle and shotgun.” Why? They want to spend quality time with family members, significant others, or friends. More importantly, they want to be knowledgeable about properly handling and using firearms.

In a recent report on the firearms industry’s economic impact, it was estimated that $51.41 billion in economic activity is accounted for by this industry. More importantly, from this comes strong employment indicators—with this industry supplying roughly 161,795 jobs, averaging in $49,749 in wages and benefits per job.

Furthermore, excise taxes collected on firearms and ammunition help fund conservation efforts through the Pittman-Robertson Act. Imagine the toll gun control would have to conservation funding? It’d be disastrous.

I hope you join me in celebrating National Shooting Sports Month. Learn more about this month at LetsGoShooting.org.

Bill That Modernizes Pittman-Robertson Act Passed Today With Unanimous Consent

This bill will modernize funds for habitat and wildlife conservation efforts, while working to get more people outdoors.

The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act of 2017 passed with unanimous consent in the House Natural Resources Committee this morning during a Full Committee Markup session. Below is the full committee hearing on video:

Under current law, Pittman-Robertson funds use federal excise taxes collected on firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, archery equipment, and licenses to fund wildlife programs across the 50 states and federally for projects and education programs related to hunting, fishing, or shooting sports. A 10% excise tax is collected on wholesale price of pistols and revolvers, while an 11% excise tax is collected for other firearms, shells, or cartridges. According to the committee, total apportionments to the 50 states and U.S. territories from Pittman-Robertson totaled $797,160,652 in Fiscal Year 2018.

How this bill modifies PR funds extends to how funds apportioned to states can be applied to activities or projects related to recruiting or retaining hunters and recreational shooters, also known in the outdoor industry as “R3”: recruitment, retention, and reactivation. (As you know, I’ve written about the dire situation to remedy participation numbers in these activities here at The Resurgent.) Moreover, the bill states that “if a state has not used all of the tax revenues apportioned to it for firearm and bow hunter education and safety program grants, it may use its remaining apportioned funds for the enhancement of hunter recruitment and recreational shooter recruitment.” It could also be used for public relations efforts related to R3. Additionally, a maximum amount of $5 million of revenue from PR funds “shall be available to the Department of the Interior exclusively for making hunter recruitment and recreational shooter recruitment grants that promote a national hunting and shooting sport recruitment program, including related communication and outreach activities.”

(Side note: The Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports will hold their National R3 Symposium in Lincoln, NE this month.)

Usually government involvement is not recommended, but giving state and federal wildlife agencies roles’ in promoting and sustaining conservation efforts, this can aid the industry in getting more people hunting, fishing, or involved in shooting sports.

This is a glimmer of hope from Congress! Let’s get more people hooked on The Great Outdoors.

No, The NRA Isn’t to Blame for the Decline of Hunting in America

A Quad-City Times article falsely scapegoating the NRA as the primary actor for the decline of hunting is off-target.

It’s seems like the National Rifle Association (NRA)’s is the left’s favorite punching bag. Now, this malice has transferred to those who allege to speak for the hunting community, as well.

Jon Alexander, editorial page editor for Quad-City Times, recently authored a piece entitled “NRA is a threat to hunting.” Mr. Alexander couldn’t be more off-target with his premise.

He begins by writing, “The best thing for hunters would be the erosion of the National Rifle Association’s clout, which suddenly looks possible amid widespread protests calling for new gun laws.”

He goes on to suggest that since he goes hunting, he knows how the majority of hunters feel about gun control. Huh? He shouldn’t claim to speak for all hunters, as many hunters—both Republicans and Democrats—belong to gun rights groups like NRA, Gun Owners of America, and National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Alexander adds:

“The precipitous decline in hunters poses a very real issue for all of society as conservation funds dry up. It’s no coincidence that the public face of NRA shifted from your kindly hunting instructor to something much more menacing as the number of hunters dropped nationwide. Like any organization, the NRA’s primary goal is the promulgation of its own existence. And the growing economic frustration particularly among rural Americans was begging to be tapped.”

And more:

It’s the NRA that’s politicized guns. And it’s doing long-term damage to hunting in the process, the primary means through which states fund conservation programs.

He goes on to barely brush the surface on the problem related in declining participation numbers, then launches a full-on assault again on the NRA:

The various reasons most cited for the decline are many and complex. Americans are more urban and less involved in processing their own food. The old gender roles have collapsed, too.

But I can’t help but believe that the weaponization of gun politics acts as a barrier to would-be new hunters. It’s hard, after all, to enter into a new culture when inclusion demands complete and total adherence to a strict set of beliefs, even at the point-of-sale.

Is Mr. Alexander aware that excise taxes from firearms purchases—including semi-automatic shotguns and rifles—go directly back to conservation efforts that support wildlife and habitat rehabilitation efforts? Does he know the firearms and ammunition industry pumped back $51.3 billion into the economy, as recently as 2016? ​He didn’t read that excellent NPR piece closely enough. Nor can one surmise he’s greatly attuned to the efforts of organizations like Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports (CAHSS), which has launched their R3 initiative to combat this decline. R3 is an initiative geared towards recruiting, retaining, and reactivating (R3) participation in hunting and fishing that’s gained major steam among major stakeholders in both respective industries.

Briefly perusing through Mr. Alexander’s past columns, I was able to find gems like “Deer blinds and the patriarchy“—where he describes his struggle in contemplating “the inherent oppressiveness of my machismo.”

Mr. Alexander then concludes his column “about my own buy-in to a system that, for eons, rendered women property to be bought and sold for the enrichment and political gain of the men who dominated them.”

In a separate column responding to Trump’s endorsement of teachers arming themselves (if they choose), he expressed dismay for it and accused the president of dodging instead of “blaming the very tools designed explicitly to inflict maximum damage.”

This greatly explains the animus he has towards the NRA. Not a shocker.

Here are the factors ACTUALLY contributing to the decline of hunting below:

Increased Urbanization

With approximately 80.7% of the population residing in urban counties, opportunities to fish and hunt have become more limited. That is not to say partaking in these activities is impossible in urban outposts. (I’ve gone fishing in the heart of Washington, D.C. before, though I wasn’t successful in catching anything. However, I have more success fishing and hunting in Maryland and Virginia.)

Outdoor enthusiasts will have to typically travel a minimum of 30 minutes to find the nearest body of water or traverse private land hunting opportunities to get their fill. Many conservation organizations have been grappling with this very trend and are seeking ways to lure in existing and new participants into hunting much like fishing. Events like Pint Nights, fly tying events, and private organizations like Outdoor Access are catching urbanites’ attention and fueling (or refueling) their love for the Great Outdoors.

While it was just reported that rural counties are making a comeback, it’s not wise to ignore city-dwellers who partake in hunting (like fishing) or who are curious to learn.

Hunting is Seen As Too Costly and Low-Priority

If you’re hunting out of your home state, the costs you’ll rake up are quite burdensome. Want to go on a public elk hunt in New Mexico? The cost of a guide, non-resident license fees, travel, lodging, food, and insurance will average in the thousands. Heck, even going next door to North Carolina, for instance, you’ll pay $110 for a 10-day non-resident fee to go duck hunting if you live in Virginia or pay $60 if you’re a non-resident hunter coming from Georgia.

Given these exorbitant costs, people start to lose interest naturally. Who can afford to prioritize hunting if it breaks one’s budget? As a result, the costs and even lack of access will prompt hunters to phase out and prioritize other things more in their lives like family, finances, or schooling.

It’s An Old Boy’s Club In Need of New Blood

While I won’t go as far to blame the male gender for machismo like the aforementioned columnist, for too long the hunting and shooting sports industries didn’t know how to effectively deploy outreach programs to reach new demographics and non-traditional participants. Despite the neglect placed in outreach efforts, the industry is seeing a surge in female hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts. There is untapped potential to seize upon this, and major stakeholders in the industry already recognize this.

Upon learning that I’m new to hunting, a leader in the hunting industry remarked it’s rare —but encouraging —to see those in their mid-to-late 20’s pick up hunting later in life. If the right tactics are employed through R3, for instance, we can see more urban-dwelling Millennials learning to hunt.

Are white men—who comprise the majority of hunters today—opposed to women and Millennials hunting? Quite the contrary. Only 5-10% of traditional hunters, in my experience, are patronizing or wholly opposed to growing the sport beyond the echo chamber. Major conservation organizations, fishing tackle companies, firearms manufacturers, and other players in conservation circles want to grow participation numbers.

There is hope in increasing our numbers.

Social Media Vitriol Against Hunters

Unlike Mr. Alexander, I believe the blame on hunting’s decline should be attributed to the attacks leveled against hunters on social media. Groups like Humane Society and PETA juice up their base to strategically and viciously target those who hunt across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and elsewhere.

When Instagram flags pictures of wild game meat being prepared or outright bans accounts that tout hunting, there’s a great problem at hand. (That’s why apps like GoWild were created to supplement existing social media platforms.)

When the anti-hunters hurl attacks at new hunters or female hunters, many become deterred and dismayed—and may choose to leave the sport altogether due to unfair attacks and threats hurled their way. In fact, one hunter last year was bullied so severely by the likes of anti-hunters, she sadly took her own life. This is unacceptable and disgusting.

But yes, pin the blame on the NRA…

Fact: The NRA Actually Plays an Indirect But Important Role in Promoting Conservation

Much to the dismay of Mr. Alexander, the NRA not only juggles legislative efforts related to promoting and protecting the Second Amendment. They concentrate their legislative efforts on supporting pro-hunting legislation across the country—including Right to Hunt and Fish (RTHF) amendmentspublic access to private hunting, and Sunday Hunting bills, just to name a few. The NRA also partners with esteemed conservation organizations like Safari Club International and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, among many, to promote conservation. (In 2012, a White House petition labelled all three groups “domestic terrorist groups.”) The petition, which has since been deleted, stated this:

“Groups like Lobo Watch, Big Game Forever, Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, NRA, Safari Club, etc., are a menace in our midst. Not only do many of them want our native predators like bears, wolves, wild cats, and the like decimated to the brink of extinction, but some of them have the nerve to harass, threaten, and downright intimidate anyone who dares to oppose them, even the government. And they’ve got some powerful people in their corner, too. They throw their mammoth monetary weight around, and think they can buy their way into power in America and put down anyone who’s got a backbone and might provide resistance. It’s time to put these groups in their place and strike them down. Time to protect our carnivorous wildlife from those who seek to decimate them!”

Since Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took charge of his respective department, funding for hunting and fishing has increased to great heights—with more than $20 billion total funding conservation efforts for thanks in part to involvement from NRA and similar gun rights groups.

More importantly, its charity outfit — NRA Foundation— has awarded grants totaling $369 million since 1990 to advance firearms safety, shooting sports, and hunting:

  • Promote, advance and encourage firearms, shooting sports and hunting safety
  • Educate individuals with respect to firearms, firearms history, participation in the shooting sports, hunting safety, and marksmanship
  • Conduct research in furtherance of improved firearms safety and marksmanship facilities and techniques

To suggest the NRA is killing hunting participation is not only downright inaccurate, it’s insulting to conservation efforts. You may not like the NRA, but to castigate them in this unfair light brings down the whole conservation movement.

Hunting and shooting sports go together like bread and butter. Not every hunter belongs to NRA, but that doesn’t mean their role in conservation efforts should be diminished.

Leave the hunting outreach to the real professionals please, Jon Alexander.