FEBRUARY 26, 2024
 
 
 

Letter from the Editor

It's time to start thinking about turkeys and spring bears and planning your next fall hunting adventures.

Speaking of planning - in this edition of The Hunting Wire, we hear from Brent Miller at the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation about where leaders come from in our Voice of Leadership Panel. We also learn about the excise tax and its impact on public boating and fishing, thanks to the good folks at NSSF.

Lastly, here's a preview of an upcoming film short about my hunting trip to Mexico last month. Enjoy.

By Brent Miller, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

Many in the sportsmen’s community are aware of the increasingly marginalized role our sporting traditions now have in the minds of many members of the public, and the numerous and well-documented societal and cultural shifts that have caused this.

Conservation Leaders are Born on Campus

Many in the sportsmen’s community are aware of the increasingly marginalized role our sporting traditions now have in the minds of many members of the public, and the numerous and well-documented societal and cultural shifts that have caused this. Pre-COVID we saw a societal shift towards urbanization, and with that came a sense of disconnect from nature. Fewer people are being allowed to be introduced to hunting, fishing, or trapping, and fewer who don’t participate find themselves in proximity to those who do.

It’s no secret that (with the notable exception of the COVID-bump in license sales that has now been washed away) the national number of sportsmen and women has been on a generally declining trend since the mid-80s. With fewer participants, our voice as a community gets weaker, and without effective advocates our voice in the policy process would begin to weaken as well. Simply put, hunters and anglers now comprise a significantly smaller portion of elected officials’ constituencies than they did even a decade ago, let alone 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

With that reality we’ve also seen an increase in the sophistication of the anti-sportsmen’s community in shaping public opinion against us. They are well organized and well-funded and are continuously spreading misinformation and emotional propaganda to whittle away at our shared outdoor heritage. Although polling continues to indicate broad general support for hunting, that support has been found to be conditional. When examining support for hunting various species or for utilizing specific methods of take, support levels begin to drop off. Moreover, recent research (2023) conducted by Responsive Management and the Outdoor Stewards of Conservation Foundation found that for the first time in decades we’re now seeing a statistically significant decline in public support for hunting.

Alongside these factors, we also have a public that does not fully understand the critical role that hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting play in funding the vast majority of the on-the-ground conservation work of our state fish and wildlife agencies. This lack of understanding partly allows for the conditional support for hunting noted previously. While not an exhaustive list, each of these factors, to some degree or another, has a direct impact on our collective conservation goals and objectives. The confluence of these factors also creates a feedback loop wherein, through time, the voice of sportsmen and women in the policy process would continue to weaken were it not for effective advocates.

So, the question then becomes, “Where do we go to develop the next generation of conservation advocates and leaders?” Colleges and universities are a natural fit, as the final step in academia before potential future leaders entering the workforce. However, we have our work cut out for us on many campuses throughout the country, with animal rights organizations currently pushing an anti-hunter agenda from elementary through law school. The halls of academia have now become new battlefields on which the hearts and minds of today’s youth are shaped for or against our time-honored sporting conservation traditions.

Despite the efforts of the anti-hunting community, college students, like the public at large, are generally very supportive of “conservation” efforts; however, many lack a full appreciation for the sustainable use principles inherent to the definition of the word, and as such are also generally unaware of the importance of hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping for conservation in America today. This lack of understanding leaves them vulnerable to the anti-hunting rhetoric that is present in many institutions of “higher learning.”

There are presently very few colleges, or college courses for that matter, that teach students about principles such as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Misinformation, or at best information gaps, in higher education curricula put our outdoor sporting traditions at risk due to a growing number of students who are studying public policy, wildlife biology, and other conservation-related majors, but are not learning about the benefits of hunting, angling, trapping, and recreational shooting as they relate to conservation efforts nation-wide. These students are then entering the workforce within state and federal fish and wildlife agencies and NGOs to work on conservation issues without ever having been educated on the role of America’s true, and original conservationists – sportsmen and women.

To address this issue there are no shortage of efforts currently underway. Several sporting-conservation NGOs, such as Ducks Unlimited, Inc., are now running very successful college programs designed to promote hunting and get more college students afield. There are also a number of school-sanctioned offerings on many college campuses that students can take part in such as various shooting and bass fishing teams, to name a few. While all these efforts are incredibly positive, and do help to move the needle, they are not ubiquitous, and do not address the issue of developing true advocates for hunting and fishing in the policy arena. To fill this particular void, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has now launched the Collegiate Sportsmen and Women’s Coalition (CSWC).

Through the Coalition, CSF will facilitate positive interactions with the outdoor sporting community which will provide Coalition members with an educated understanding of sportsmen's issues to help shape their views of our sporting traditions’ value in today’s society. We hope many members will continue to engage in advocacy efforts on behalf of fish and wildlife conservation and our sporting heritage long after they graduate. Some, we hope, will populate the ranks of hunter and angler advocates at agencies, organizations, and companies as those of us currently in the profession start to rotate out. Others may even decide to run for office one day and end up joining one of the sportsmen’s caucuses CSF supports. Even if they don’t, however, the understanding of and appreciation for the role of sportsmen and women in today’s society they will gain through Coalition membership will allow them to advocate for hunters and anglers in their day-to-day lives and conversations, ultimately helping our community maintain or enhance public support for our way of life.

Beyond general education on hunting and angling issues and increasing general support for our traditions, CSF will be facilitating direct engagement by CSWC members in the policy process. Coalitions will interact with and support sportsmen’s caucuses and their members at events, and on key policy items. Leaders of the Collegiate Sportsmen and Women’s Coalitions on each campus will also work directly with CSF staff to develop and disseminate relevant policy education materials about matters before the legislature to their members. However, CSF’s support of the Coalition does not stop with providing them briefing materials. CSF will work with these Coalitions to develop and submit testimony, letters, and other policy advocacy materials to support the work of the caucuses and in support of the Collegiate Coalition’s mission to educate college students on how to effectively engage with elected officials on policy issues related to our time-honored sporting traditions.

Presently, Collegiate Sportsmen and Women Coalitions are active at Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Mississippi. If you are a college student (or know one) who is interested in learning more about the Collegiate Sportsmen and Women’s Coalition and how to bring one to your school, please reach out to Isabella Mucci, CSF’s Collegiate Sportsmen and Women’s Coalition Coordinator for more information. Isabella can be reached at imucci@congressionalsportsmen.org. Together we can ensure the next cohort of future conservation leaders and advocates are well-informed, and possess hands-on advocacy experience championing hunting, angling, and other conservation issues.

Brent joined the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) in the fall of 2010, then spent over a decade managing CSF’s state-level work in the northeast region – supporting regional sportsmen’s caucuses and members; significantly expanding pro-sportsmen infrastructure; directly engaging in the policy process in support of hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping; and supervising and mentoring others in the same. During this time Brent also served as the organization’s lead for firearm, knife, and deer management issues at both the state and federal levels, while providing a wide range of administrative support services for the States Program Team (SPT) – which ultimately saw him leading the SPT as Senior Director in 2022. Now as Vice President, Policy, Brent continues to serve as the head of CSF’s state-level engagement nationwide and leads a team of 10 regional staff in support of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Collegiate Sportsmen and Women’s Coalition, and their members. Brent has been trained at Harvard Kennedy School in Nonprofit Leadership, which included focal areas in organizational leadership and management, strategic planning, financial stewardship, marketing, and development. Prior education includes a Master of Science in Environmental Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a Criminology concentration, two Associate of Science degrees in Criminal Justice and Individual studies, and a Professional Development Certificate from The Wildlife Society. Brent currently serves as a Board Member of the American Suppressor Association Foundation; and previously served as Secretary of the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, an inaugural Member of the Maryland Sportsmen’s Marketing Initiative, and as a Member of the National Wildlife Services Advisory Council under two Administrations.

2023-2024 Voice of Leadership Panelists

Jon Zinnel, Federal Ammunition
Dan Forster, Archery Trade Association
Brent Miller, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Rick Brazell, First Hunt Foundation
Mark Peterson, Worldwide Trophy Adventure
Michelle Scheuermann, Bullet Proof Communications

Facilitators

The Voice of Leadership Panel is an appointed group of outdoor industry leaders who have volunteered to contribute their voices on crucial hunting and outdoor recreation issues to inform, inspire, and educate participants within our community.

NSSF, ASA, SOBA, USFWS and Washington Department of Natural Resources partner to continue providing boating and fishing access.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, in partnership with the American Sportfishing Association, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, States Organization for Boating Access and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has released another film in the “Partner with a Payer®” series — a collection of videos highlighting the importance of wildlife conservation and management. The latest video, “Waterways for All: Improving and Expanding Public Fishing and Boating Access,” showcases the work being done to continue providing public boat launches and public fishing piers throughout the United States.

To fund these conservation efforts, the Sport Fish Restoration Act authorizes a small federal excise tax on certain items — 10 percent on fishing equipment; 3 percent tax on electric boat motors, tackle and fly boxes; import duties on tackle, pleasure boats and yachts; and a portion of the federal gas tax that is attributable to motorboats and small engines. Since 1952, these excise taxes have contributed and distributed more than $11.3 billion (over $17 billion when adjusted for inflation) to individual states. Together, these excise taxes fund public boat ramps, fisheries projects and aquatic education, providing countless public outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the United States of America.

Kathy Hollar, Division Manager, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, explained how imperative the partnerships are to outdoor conservation and recreation. “Our industry manufacturers are vitally important to the Sportfish Restoration Program. Without their federal excise tax contributions, we wouldn’t have had seven decades of fish restoration and boating access projects across the country for all of America to enjoy,” Hollar stated.

Representatives from the Washington Department of Natural Resources, American Sportfishing Association, the States Organization for Boating Access and USFWS came together to tour the Defiance Boats factory and other marine facilities. Throughout the tours, they learned what it takes to generate the excise tax revenues that support sportfish restoration and increase outdoor recreation participation in Washington and across the country. The state and federal agency staff also discussed specific projects where funds have provided key opportunities for the public to launch, dock and moor boats, as well as to fish and engage in other water-related activities.

Defiance Boats supports the initiatives that create long-lasting opportunities for the public to participate in outdoor activities. “We have only a certain amount of fish and wildlife, so it’s important that we take care of those stocks not just for the boaters of today, but for my kids and the future generations that will come. Programs like this are really important to help make that happen,” said Bo Palmer, CEO, Defiance Boats, Allied Boats, Defiance Marine.

The group also toured several boat ramps, fishing piers and other nearby facilities built with Sportfish Restoration funds. “In Washington state, there has been a huge impact. We’ve constructed over 15,000 linear feet of boat moorage, 400 or so boat slips and also some upland amenities for those boaters such as restrooms, laundry facilities and showers,” said Karl Jacobs, Senior Outdoor Grants Manager, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. He continued, “States are working really hard to put that money to good work.”

This project was funded by the Multistate Conservation Grant Program. The latest video and others in the series were produced by Shine United LLC / Kingdom Filmworks.

When the last decoy is lifted from the water, the last feather is carefully plucked, a glass of Jack Daniel’s is poured to celebrate with friends, and the final evening of duck camp wraps up, a mix of gratitude, pride, and great sadness falls over us as another season comes to a close.

Duck hunting isn't just about an escape. For some, it's a part of our makeup that we cannot ignore. Call it whatever fits best: a celebration of the great outdoors, a personal calling, a way to connect with something greater than ourselves, etc. But if you're a passionate duck hunter, it means something more than just killing ducks. So every year, when the last sun sets on the last day of the season, there’s a weight that comes along with it… What now?

It's not just “something” special about duck season; from duck camp with old and new friends, stories and new recipes shared, endless laughs, learning experiences, frustrations and trials to successes and cheering, the dogs shivering with excitement as the first flocks break into view, seeing the look on a new hunter’s face experiencing the same thing you once did, watching the drakes hunt the sounds you've spent hundreds of hours perfecting, the smell of gunpowder, to the sound of silence that is not silent at all... It's everything.

So when each season comes to a close, it might be nearly impossible not to feel sadness that comes along with it. But like a lot of great things, I believe distance truly makes the heart grow fonder. The anticipation of a new year, the planning, watching a mallard hen tenderly care for her clutch of little ones, protecting them from all the dangers of nature, daydreaming of that opening morning crisp air, getting some new gear you've had your eye on for a while, tending to our guns, washing decoys, and cooking this season’s bounty for our families—it sure makes a person grateful for the opportunities and grateful for what’s to come.

Although, even with immense gratitude, I often hear hunters expressing deep sadness and even depression this time of year. Days spent on the water and in the blinds are some of the best days of our lives. I think it would simply be strange not to mourn the pause of such a blessed part of our lives. I even see it in our dogs! Have you ever gone to grab your gear to clean it off after the season closes and look over to see the look on your bird dog’s face? They get it!

This season was exceptionally challenging for a lot of hunters in America. If you are one of them, don't fret, my friend; the hard years are what make us better hunters and make the good seasons great! I know I'm not alone in saying that the countdown until the next opener is already on! In the meantime, let’s celebrate what makes this life so special, and Keep Talkin’!

By Cassie Gasaway

HUNTING NEWS & INFORMATION

Silencer Central, America’s largest silencer dealer, announces a significant milestone in its journey with the adoption of Netsuite as its new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Mossberg is proud to announce a new distribution business relationship with Orion Wholesale.

ALPS Mountaineering, manufacturer of performance-driven gear for wilderness adventures, exploration, and family camping, expands its backcountry shelter lineup for 2024 with the release of the all-new Stealth 1 bivy tent, now shipping. Designed

Credova, the leader in Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions for outdoor recreation, is excited to announce a new partnership with LandTrust.

APEX Ammunition is pleased to introduce the new 28-gauge Mossy Oak Green Leaf Turkey TSS Blend to its legendary line of turkey shotshells.

Mathews is excited to announce their all-new Bridge-Lock Stabilizer Contingency Program this year, giving both professional archers and amateur competitors the chance to win monetary payouts at ASA, IBO, and NFAA sanctioned events.

Outdoor Stewards of Conservation Foundation (OSCF) is proud to announce that Federal Ammunition has been awarded its “Outdoor Industry Conservation Partner” award for 2024.

ZeroTech Optics is excited to announce its attending the upcoming IWA OutdoorClassics show, taking place from Thu, 29 Feb 2024 – Mon, 4 Mar 2024. Visitors can find us in Hall A at booth number 3A-300, where we will be showcasing all our new optic releases for 2024.

Vudoo Gun Works proudly has built and donated a matched pair of custom Mobius 1911 pistols to Christian Craighead, former member of the famed 22 SAS Regiment and hero of the Nairobi incident. These pistols raised $22,000 for the SCI Hunter Action Fund.

Sparks, NV The Provider is thrilled to announce the unprecedented second printing of their best-selling cookbook, The Provider Cookbook. 

AG Composites -- the leader in the design and production of custom rifle stocks for both hunters and the world’s top competition shooters – is now offering bottom metals on its best-in-class custom rifle stocks.

ZeroTech Optics, a leading innovator in precision optics, is thrilled to announce the addition of Eddie Davenport to its team of brand ambassadors.

Armasight, the trailblazer in Thermal and Night Vision, ignites Q1 with an exclusive dealer promotion. Introducing the PVS-14 Pinnacle Elite and Magnifier Bundle – an unbeatable offer for enhanced vision in any scenario.

Galco's SB24 Center Post Flat Buckle Holster Belt is now available! An excellent companion to the Big Iron Belt Holster, the SB24 features Galco’s Center post buckle design and double rows of stitching.

J.P. Sauer and Sohn, Germany’s oldest manufacturer of hunting firearms, is pleased to introduce the new Sauer 505. This bolt-action rifle is an engineering masterpiece, delivering timeless elegance, absolute accuracy, and exceptional versatility.

SLG2, Inc. is thrilled to announce the addition of Burris Optics as its latest corporate partner for the upcoming 2024 season.

 Browning Camping and Hunting Blinds, a licensed line from ALPS Brands, introduces two new products developed for on-the-move outdoor adventurers and campers. 

Murray Road Agency, a full suite marketing agency rooted strongly in the hunting, shooting, tactical and outdoor spaces, has an immediate opening on the Affiliate Marketing Team.

A bobcat and two Red-tailed Hawks found dead in Cornwall, Vermont, have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus infection, according to preliminary lab results shared with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department on February 15, 2024.

Bowhunters can effectively neutralize their targets with Dead Ringer’s Nutralyzer arrows.

Rock Ridge Outdoors is attending the 2024 National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville, Tennessee to showcase its roster of brands, including American Buffalo Knife and Tool Co., Cupped Waterfowl, Dead Ringer Hunting, The Grind, Mammoth Coolers, ProSport Outdoors, Rogue Ridge, and Telum Tactical.

G5® Outdoors is proud to announce that they have won two Golden Arrow Awards from BowHunterPlanet in the Fixed and Mechanical Broadhead categories.

Available to stream live on MLFNOW! on MyOutdoorTV, the Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Invitationals Stop One presented by Power-Pole at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas.

Whitewater Fishing brand heard it from bass, walleye, muskie, and Great Lakes guides, tournament anglers, and avid multispecies anglers: We want sun, wind, water, and cold protection, but a fit that responds to movement.

The No Lowballers podcast sit down this week with Louie Tuminaro, better known as ‘The Gunfather’ from Outdoor Channel, to talk about the controversy around restoration of vintage firearms.

Renovation Hunters, an Outdoor Channel original series, is embarking on season two where home improvement meets the outdoor lifestyle beginning on Friday, February 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Old Glory Bank released a new radio ad that uses humor to highlight the woke bank cancel culture infecting many of the nation’s financial institutions.

This past weekend, Mathews Team shooters traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to compete at the Indoor Archery World Series Finals and at the Vegas Shoot.

Outdoor Stewards of Conservation Foundation (OSCF) is proud to announce that Federal Ammunition has been awarded its “Outdoor Industry Conservation Partner” award for 2024.

The Director of Brands is responsible for overseeing daily operations and strategic direction for Kinsey’s Consumer Brands. Primary objectives are to increase sales through the development and execution of multi-channel strategies, strategically manage the global supply chain network, influence product development, and drive the Brands team towards operational results.

MidwayUSA’s Devin Lenauer was recently promoted to Merchandising Manager – MidwayUSA Brands. Devin joined MidwayUSA in June 2014 as a Product Information Specialist and became a Product Specialist in Product Development in July 2016.

Commencing mid-summer 2024, New York residents will have the opportunity to personally buy ammunition at our physical store located on Davis Street in Scranton, PA.

Fiocchi, a global leader in defensive, target, and hunting ammunition, is proud to announce its participation in the 2024 Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, scheduled to take place from March 1-3 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Media Lodge, the leading digital marketing and content distribution company in the outdoor industry, is pleased to announce that Katey Powers has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Sales.

Moultrie is excited to announce the launch of its new line of accessories designed exclusively for Moultrie’s Ranch Series feeders.

Now Introducing Galco's Thunderclap Belt Holster!

NSSF, ASA, SOBA, USFWS and Washington Department of Natural Resources partner to continue providing boating and fishing access.

Ralph & Vicki will be attending the 2024 Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh NC March 1-3. They’ll be there doing seminars! Join them and RJ & Aubrey at their booth. Come check out the new Choice merch too!

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc., (SAAMI) has announced the acceptance of two new rifle cartridges for SAAMI standardization.

ALPS OutdoorZ designers have incorporated the stadium seat concept into the most comfortable turkey hunting vests on the market. The new Impact Pro turkey vest comes in Mossy Oak® Original Bottomland® camo and weighs 5 lbs. MSRP is $149.99.

Representing the convergence of personal defense and personal comfort, the RTS Tactical Bulletproof Memory Foam Pillow stands as an unassuming yet highly effective layer of protection for you and your loved ones in the event of a violent home invasion.

German Precision Optics USA (GPO), a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality, affordable sporting optics, announces the expansion of its award-winning Passion binocular line with the introduction of the new PASSION 15x50 HD binocular. 

Galco's SB24 Center Post Flat Buckle Holster Belt is now available. An excellent companion to the Big Iron Belt Holster, the SB24 features Galco’s Center post buckle design and double rows of stitching.

Antler King has renewed its partnership with Red Arrow TV.

THE ALL-PURPOSE RED DOT FOR RECREATIONAL TACTICAL SHOOTERS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND HUNTERS

FL Outdoor, home to Swhacker Broadheads, C’Mere Deer and TAC Vanes, is growing its team, and Hal Thomas has been hired for the newly created position of marketing brand manager for Kelly’s Outdoor division.

NSSF filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that challenges Colorado’s age-based gun ban. Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis signed a law last year that denies Second Amendment rights to adults under the age of 21, unconstitutionally denying their right to lawfully purchase any firearm.

Springfield Armory is proud to announce that the Echelon 9mm pistol has been chosen as NRA Publications’ Shooting Illustrated 2024 Golden Bullseye Handgun of the Year.

The latest innovation added to American Buffalo Knife and Tool Co.’s Elite line of knives is the new Spur Damascus Folding Knife.

HeadHunters NW, the leading executive recruiting firm specializing in talent acquisition for the international small arms, shooting sports, and defense industries, presents the next episode of the HeadHunters NW Podcast. Hosted by Shaylene Keiner, President of HeadHunters NW, this episode features Marshall Lerner, CEO of Primary Arms. 

GSM Outdoors is excited to announce the launch of an all-new brand, The Frog Factory. With the intent of delivering both proven and innovative products in the category of frogs, toads, and hollow-body topwaters, The Frog Factory comes out of the gate offering existing, proven products in the Boom Boom Frog and the Ribbit with a focus on upcoming innovation and development.

iRayUSA, the United States Distributor of InfiRay Outdoor thermal optics, introduces a new addition to the HYBRID line of multi-function thermal weapon sights, boasting a 75mm objective lens, 4× base magnification, custom reticles, and onboard ballistics. 

 
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