December 3, 2021

Major Milestone for Families Afield – 1 Million New Hunters!

National Program Reduced Barriers, Created Opportunities for Newcomers

NEWTOWN, Conn. –The future of hunting is brighter today than it was nearly a decade ago thanks to the extraordinary success of Families Afield, an innovative program that has introduced 1 million newcomers to hunting.

This impressive number demonstrates that interest in hunting remains high and that what’s needed to spark a lifelong passion for hunting is a proper introduction enabled by state regulations. With success in hand, Families Afield’s call to action is this: If your state offers an apprentice hunting license, make it a point to bring a newcomer along this hunting season; or if you’ve never gone hunting before, seek out a mentor and give it a try.

Launched in 2004, Families Afield was developed to increase the number of hunters to ensure a promising future for the tradition of hunting and conservation. Hunters provide the lion’s share of support for conservation through the purchases of hunting licenses and excise taxes paid on sales of firearms and ammunition.

“I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be a hunter, so my dad told me we can get this apprentice hunting license and we can see if you like it,” said youth apprentice hunter Seth Wasilewski in a new Families Afield video that features youth and parents who have taken advantage of the program. Seth, who took his first deer that day, went on to complete his hunter education course and continues to hunt—a progression followed by so many other mentored hunters.

Families Afield is a model of cooperative effort by several major organizations. The program was founded in 2004 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. The National Rifle Association and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation are also coalition partners in the Families Afield program.

To achieve its mission, Families Afield focused on removing barriers such as age restrictions that were preventing sportsmen and women from passing hunting on to the next generation. Families Afield also encouraged states to establish an apprentice hunting license—a “try before you buy” concept that allowed newcomers to go afield with an experienced mentor before completing a hunter education course. Cumulative sales of apprentice hunting licenses have surpassed 1 million.

Today, 35 states have approved legislation making it easier for newcomers to try hunting with an experienced mentor.

“I don’t know that sitting in a classroom for two or three days would have sparked the same interest [in my son] as getting out in the woods and getting experience deer hunting,” said Greg Wasilewski, Seth’s father and mentor.

Added parent Andrew Wecker, who mentored his daughter and son, “If you have a parent out with a child, something good is going to happen from that, and for this family hunting has been a good thing for us.”

Program organizers say adding 1 million new hunters has had a ripple effect on overall participation because having a new hunter in a family often means other family members and friends become more active hunters or are reactivated.

Nearly 200,000 apprentice licenses were sold in 2012, according to a survey of state fish and wildlife agencies commissioned by the Families Afield partners. That brings the total since 2006 to 1,006,269 apprentice hunting licenses, making Families Afield one of the most successful hunter-recruitment programs.

Most apprentices are youth, but increasingly adults have taken advantage of apprentice licenses to determine if they enjoy the activity enough to complete the hunter education course required to purchase a hunting license on their own.

The Families Afield partners will be celebrating this “1 million milestone” in the coming weeks by releasing key findings regarding the effectiveness of the program. As noted by the latest Families Afield video, “It took five years to reach 1 million new hunters, but with your help we can reach 2 million a whole lot faster.”

Experienced hunters and those who want to try hunting should check their state’s hunting regulations for information about apprentice hunting licenses. More information about Families Afield can be found at www.FamiliesAfield.org.

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Transition in Leadership Occurring at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance

Press release from U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance:

Columbus – Dick Cabela, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), and Orrin Ingram, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF), jointly announced that, after 16 years of distinguished service, Bud Pidgeon, President and CEO, will step down from this leadership position by the end of 2013.

Mason Lampton, Vice Chairman of the USSA Board of Directors, noted, “Both boards are collectively thrilled with Bud Pidgeon’s performance over the years. He particularly distinguished himself as a leader, conservationist and sportsman in his role by rebranding the USSA and USSAF and successfully leading the charge to win hundreds of legislative, legal and regulatory issues. “

Among Pidgeon’s many accomplishments is the creation of the Trailblazer Adventure Program which to date has attracted over 1.5 million youth and their families to experience outdoor sports for the first time by staging over 800 events in 48 states. Pidgeon also played a leadership role in creating the Families Afield Campaign that has resulted in over 800,000 apprentice licenses being issued in 34 states to date. Lastly, he made it possible for the USSA and USSAF to serve over 7 million sportsmen in 45 states in 2012.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the work that we have accomplished over the past 16 years,” said Pidgeon, USSA President and CEO. “It has been an absolute privilege to work with such a dedicated board and professional staff.”

An orderly transition will take place during 2013 to select the next President and CEO of the USSA and USSAF. A volunteer search committee has been appointed and Explore Company has been commissioned to assist in the search. Pidgeon will remain in the CEO role until a new President is appointed. He will then play a consultant-transitional role to assure that an orderly transition takes place.

Pidgeon will continue to play a strategic role in protecting the quality of life of individuals and groups after he officially exits the USSA and USSAF through a special assignment being created that will utilize his academic and professional background.

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New Website Serves All Sportsmen

(Columbus) – To help and educate all hunters, anglers, trappers, recreational shooters, and persons with an interest in the great outdoors and conservation, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has launched “The Sportsmen’s Daily”—a new website covering all things outdoors. The new site focuses on issues and news around the nation and is updated frequently.

The site focuses on legislative issues insight and reports which sportsmen and women nationwide expect from the USSA. The site also includes information on USSA collaborative projects and programs (such as Trailblazer and Families Afield), and features cutting-edge news in the shooting sports and angling industries.

Visitors can also search the website for blogs that provide perspectives on Protecting What’s Right, and insider views on where legislation is—or could be headed—in the nation’s and states’ capitals. From time to time the website features special deals on gear and keen insight from the pro staff and manufacturers who comprise the important USSA Outdoor Business Council.

But it also includes many useful features to help you enter the field. An interactive map will take visitors to active and current weather reports, game laws, and regional information. Short videos will entertain and educate visitors on a wide variety of outdoors topics. The new website also provides a quick link to sign up for the USSA’s popular Sentry program and makes getting involved with USSA watchdog efforts easier.

“The Sportsmen’s Daily” offers a searchable database where you can determine what has been happening in your state. The popular “Eye-on-the Antis” articles continue to expose the methods and tactics of radical anti-hunting and anti-trapping groups.

The best news is that The Sportsmen’s Daily can be delivered to your computer each morning much like the newspapers of yesteryear landed on your door step. Use your mouse to make this your home page and to help you make accurate decisions on what action to take—or what to pursue that day.

Take a tour at www.ussportsmen.org.

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Cutting Off Supply Lines to Animal Rights’ Intrusions and Tax Dollar Heists

Just yesterday a reader at the Black Bear Blog left a comment pertaining to an article I had written last week entitled, “Relationships With Fish and Game Departments at All Time Low“. Part of that comment said:

When the Allies won World War II, they didn’t just fight the battle on the front lines, they attacked the enemy’s ability to fight the war by bombing their factories. They went after their supply lines. It’s the same with fighting the insane policies of the far left. You can’t just try to fight the battle on the front lines of public opinion; you have to go after their supply lines. And their biggest supply line is how they’ve corrupted the environmental movement and then use it to fund themselves to the tune of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Those of us who are knowledgeable about the antics of the animal rights organizations, have a good understanding of how, through dishonesty and abuse, these groups have successfully funded their activities. Perhaps what isn’t discussed enough is the fact that many of these same organizations have propitiously infiltrated every level of local, state and federal governmental departments and hijacked those agencies in order to perpetuate their agendas and funding.

In the article linked to above, I wrote: “Fish and game departments have become giant government agencies with too many powers and a focus that caters to environmentalism and animal rights and animal protection.” (emboldening added) What is it within these departments that has created this shift away from sportsmen and onto environmentalism, animal rights and animal protection? It’s mostly due to the infiltration of members of these organizations at every level and every agency.

Also last week I posted information about how APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) was looking to contract with someone or agency that could provide Internet spying on anyone suspected of any kind of ill-defined animal abuse. If you read the entire contract proposal, not only will you discover how radical it is, but that it smells terribly of something spawned by animal rights radical groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to name just one.

On December 20, 2011, I posted a press release that was sent out by the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance about the troubles with the U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS having been permeated by HSUS and as a result were setting the department’s agenda and policy in dealing with animal rights issues.

Moran noted in his Nov. 2, 2011 comments that he discovered U.S. Department of Agriculture memos authorizing the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to hold a forum—at taxpayer expense—on animal rights and agriculture. In fact, another memorandum noted that a prior meeting with HSUS and USDA staffers was held to “set the agenda” for the upcoming forum. Moran noted in his Senate testimony that USDA met with HSUS despite it being an animal rights organization and “no friend to rural America, farmers or ranchers.”

It’s vitally important to the information in this article to read the USSA press release as it contains several documented accounts of how HSUS has, like a toxic gas, permeated the USDA. It appears the method of operation is to first sue the USDA and then use that leverage to gain access and perpetuate their agendas.

Another example of HSUS’ annexing of the USDA/APHIS is found in an article sent to me by a reader. It explains how one person, Sarah Conant, before becoming a lawyer, went to work for HSUS as an animal protection litigator. She continued her work with HSUS through receiving her Bar license and after five short years was hired by the USDA/APHIS.

These are only tiny examples of what is taking place. These are the supply lines that need to be broken. We cannot allow the HSUS to be the indoctrination springboard where well-bred minions become agents within our governmental departments; the end result is the death and destruction of individual rights, freedom and this nation.

The easy part is exposing the evil. Cutting off the supply lines is a monumental task.

Tom Remington

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Presidential Candidates Talk Sportsmen’s Issues with USSA

(Columbus) –Like so many other states during the last 90 days, Ohio is now taking its turn as the center of the political storm. The Republican candidates for the White House are crisscrossing the Buckeye state to make their case to voters prior to tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday” primary.

This full court press, in the backyard of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s national headquarters, provided staff leadership a chance to visit and have dialogue with the campaigns and candidates.

Today, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum agreed to sit down to talk about the most important issues facing sportsmen with USSA staff. Bud Pidgeon, USSA president and CEO; Rob Sexton, Senior Vice President; Doug Jeanneret, Vice President of Marketing; and Evan Heusinkveld, Director of State Services, spent 30 minutes with the presidential hopeful at an American Legion hall.

“I have spent my career fighting to preserve the 2nd Amendment and the traditions of the sportsman, and I will continue working to ensure these rights are never infringed upon,” said Sen. Santorum. “I have to admit though, that one of the best things about being on this campaign was the Iowa pheasant hunts – and the high point for me was watching my oldest son take his first pheasant.”

Prior to the meeting, the Santorum campaign provided information on his views on hunting and second amendment rights. Click here to read the Santorum document in its entirety. USSA will publish Sen. Santorum’s responses to questions asked by USSA leadership tomorrow on the organization’s website www.ussportsmen.org.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign also provided information explaining his views on hunting and the second amendment. Click here to read the Romney document in its entirety.

Governor Romney recently addressed his feelings regarding our outdoor heritage during a campaign stop in Ohio on Feb. 29, 2012.

“My own view is, lets protect the second amendment, lets protect the right of Americans to bear arms, whether for hunting, for sportsmen, for personal protection, for whatever legal purpose someone might have,” said Romney.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance was pleased to have a discourse with both candidates.

“Given that one of these two men could very likely lead our country, it is vital for sportsmen to have every chance to learn more about where they stand on hunting, conservation and gun rights,” said Bud Pidgeon. “We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit, and will continue to provide information on the candidates whenever possible.”

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U.S. Sportman’s Alliance Submits Comments To USFWS on Maine’s ITP for Canada Lynx

The U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) announced this week that they have submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in regards to the State of Maine’s application for an Incidental Take Permit, that, if granted, would release Maine and the trappers from liability for accidentally trapping a Canada lynx while trapping other legal species.

The USSAF stated that they support the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) application and request that the USFWS not add any further restrictions to the trapping codes, citing Maine’s current trapping laws are more than adequate in protecting the lynx.

Tom Remington

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Annoucement Made to Remove Gray Wolves in Great Lakes From Protection

There is much agog within sportsman’s groups having heard when Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Federal Government will remove Endangered Species Act listings for Western Great Lakes gray wolves. The action will take effect in 30 days from Federal Register publication and individual states will take over management of the species.

This of course depends upon what affect lawsuits from environmental and animal rights groups will have. There are sure to be lawsuits filed and at best the results of those lawsuits will be confusing. The last time the Feds attempted to delist those wolves, a lawsuit put a stop to it. The court ruling from Judge Paul Friedman, remanded the case back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and told them to return to his court when they could provide proof that the USFWS has the authority through the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to create Distinct Population Segments. This ruling simply created tons more confusion into an ESA equation so riddled with confusion it’s any wonder any ESA action works at all.

I’ve yet to study the proposal, but I am told that it contains wording that rejects any claims that there are two species of wolves inhabiting the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves. In my mind, that’s a bigger victory than the delisting of wolves. How this will play out across the remainder of the Eastern United States is anyone’s guess at this point.

What I decided to do, for those interested, is publish the press releases below that I received about the delisting so that readers can see the different comments and perspectives. One is from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and one from the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance.

RMEF Cheers Announcements on Great Lakes Wolves

MISSOULA, Mont.–The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation today cheered federal delisting of wolves in the Great Lakes states, as well as the State of Wisconsin’s rapid movement toward implementing its own science-based wolf management plan.

Both actions help pave the way toward predator populations that are in better balance with elk, deer and other species commonly preyed upon by wolves.

“Barring any legal holdups from animal rights activists, we should see science-based wolf management and control measures go into effect by February, and that’s great news for conservation overall in the Great Lakes region,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

On Dec. 21, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a final rule in the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Upon the announcement, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ordered the Department of Natural Resources to begin implementing the state’s wolf management plan. The agency will issue permits to landowners experiencing wolf-caused losses beginning Feb. 1.

There are more than 4,000 wolves in the three core recovery states in the western Great Lakes area, a total that far exceeds recovery goals. Minnesota’s population is estimated at 2,921 wolves, while an estimated 687 wolves live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and another 782 in Wisconsin.

Each state has developed a science-based plan to manage wolves after federal protection is removed.

Wolf Delisting Decision a Big Win for Sportsmen

(Columbus, Ohio) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that gray wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region have exceeded recovery goals and should no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once official, this move will return wolves to state management in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and some portions of adjoining states.

In an even bigger victory for sportsmen, the Service also announced that it has reversed its previous view that two wolf species exist in the Western Great Lakes region. This previous stance by the Service, that two separate wolf species were present in the region, could have easily derailed any delisting of the wolves. The announcement recognized that the scientific evidence submitted during the comment period was crucial in reversing its position. In July and September, the USSAF submitted extensive comments supported by wolf and genetics expert Dr. Lisette Waits refuting the two wolf theory.

A two wolf position, which was not based on leading research, could have led to additional lawsuits from animal rights organizations aimed at preventing wolves from being returned to state management.

“This announcement is a major victory for sportsmen, conservation, and wildlife management,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation senior vice president. “We applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their decision to recognize the scientific facts regarding wolves in the Great Lakes region. This is how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to be implemented. When animal populations recover, those species should be removed from the list and returned to state management. This has been a long, hard fought battle and is not likely over as we expect the animal rights lobby to turn to the courts to stop the delisting. We will be ready.”

Wolf populations have far exceeded recovery goals and have become an increasing threat to other wildlife, livestock, and hunting and other dogs.

The delisting rule will become effective 30 days after it has been published in the Federal Register. Official publication in the Federal Register is expected to take place next week.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation has been on the front lines working to ensure that wolves in the Western Great Lakes region were removed from the ESA and rightfully returned to state management.

In May of 2010, the USSAF and its partners petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. After the Service failed to respond to the request as required by law, USSAF notified the Service that if it did not act on the wolf petition USSAF and our partners would file a lawsuit. Subsequently, the Service started the delisting process which led to today’s announcement of its intent to delist gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Joining the USSAF in these efforts are the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Dairyland Committee of Safari Club International Chapters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Hunters Rights Coalition, Whitetails of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Firearms Owners, Rangers, Clubs, and Educators, Inc.

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