Expert Opinions

Looking ahead, what is the single, biggest challenge facing sportsmen?


"As we have seen, powerful and well-funded groups have been organized with the intent of banning fishing and hunting in the United States. We see these groups in action in calls for the EPA to ban traditional ammunition, enact fishing bans off the coast of California, calls for the head of the Fish and Wildlife Commission in California to be fired for legally hunting a mountain lion, and the list goes on. To be unaware or, worse yet, unconcerned about these existential threats places our lifestyles as outdoors people at peril.  To counter these groups we must stay involved, support those organizations that fight for us, and, most importantly, vote!"

Thomas L. Millner
President and Chief Executive Officer - Cabela's
Thomas L. Millner has been the President and Chief Executive Officer and a director of Cabela's since April 2009. Mr. Millner was the Chief Executive Officer of Remington Arms Company, Inc., a leading manufacturer of firearms and ammunition, from April 1999 until March 2009 and was a director of Remington from June 1994 until March 2009. From December 2008 until March 2009, Mr. Millner also served as Chief Executive Officer of Freedom Group, Inc., a holding company, which directly or indirectly owns Remington and related companies. Mr. Millner served as President of Remington from May 1994 to May 2007. Mr. Millner served as a director of Stanley Furniture Company, Inc. from 1999 to March 2011 and Lazy Days’ R.V. Center, Inc. from 2005 to June 2009.

"Our single greatest challenge is the financial predicament our country is currently facing. Deficit spending, unfunded and underfunded future obligations, and inefficient and ineffective government programs have finally caught up to us. We’re now staring at perhaps years with no funds for programs and fewer staff to carry out programs. Since shooting, hunting and conservation are low on the priority list, we’re going to hear more often that there isn’t enough money for our issues."

Jay McAninch
President & Chief Executive Officer - Archery Trade Association
EDUCATION B.S. 1974 Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, Iowa State University. M.S. 1976 Zoology/Wildlife Management, Ohio State University. Certification - Wildlife Biologist.  1982  The Wildlife Society. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE August 2000 – Present: President/Chief Executive Officer, Archery Trade Association. August 1998 – July 2000: President, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Washington, D.C. January 1989 – July 1998: Wildlife Research Biologist, Minnesota DNR. September 1976 – December 1988: Wildlife Ecologist, Institute of Ecosystem Studies, New York Botanical Garden PROFESSIONAL AWARDS Special Appreciation Award, Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia, February, 2011. Special Recognition Leadership Award, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 100th Annual Meeting, September, 2010 Muzzy Tall Man Award, Muzzy Products Corporation, 2009 Special Congressional Service Citation, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, 106th Congressional Session, July, 2000. First Honorary Membership, Pope and Young Club.  1996. First Lee Gladfelter Memorial Award for Professional Excellence and Achievement on behalf of Bowhunting. Pope and Young Club.  1995. Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership and Improvement of Bowhunting Award, Minnesota Bowhunters, Inc. 1995. Outstanding Professional Recognition – White-tailed Deer Research, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. 1995. Exemplary Contributions to America's Bowhunters and the Conservation Movement, American Archery Council.  1995. Special Recognition Award for Deer Wounding Research Study, World Bowhunting Chapter, Safari Club International.  1995. Special Recognition Award for Excellence and Professionalism, Minnesota Fish and Wildlife Employees Association.  Awarded in 1992, 1993. Outstanding Contributions to Fish and Wildlife Management Award, Minnesota Fish and Wildlife Employees Association.  1992. Natural Resource Communication  and Presentation Award, North Dakota Chapter, The Wildlife Society. 1992. Special Meritorious Achievement Award, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  Awarded in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997. Certificate of Recognition, Northeast Section, The Wildlife Society. 1989. SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL PUBLICATIONS I have authored or co-authored 52 publications on deer biology, ecology and behavior, landscape ecology and management, Lyme Disease, urban deer ecology and management and bowhunting and hunting. I have authored or co-authored 3 books and been a Technical Editor for book publishers. I have authored articles for many hunting magazines and had a column for 8 years, “Issues and Answers” for Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine. I authored or co-authored 312 abstracts on deer biology, ecology and behavior, landscape ecology and management, Lyme Disease, and hunting. POLITICAL, LEGAL AND POLICY EXPERIENCE I have been an expert witness in 24 court cases involving urban deer management, bowhunting and hunting programs. I have testified in front of state legislative and Congressional committees, in front of state natural resource and wildlife commissions and boards and in front of county and local government agencies and councils. I have worked with many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, been involved in the development and management of 5 major pieces of legislation that passed the US Congress and were signed by the President. I have attended 3 White House Conservation Conferences, visited the White House on 2 occasions, and have attended meetings with President’s George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"The word “conservation” has been stolen and transformed from its true and original meaning: “The wise use of our natural resources.”  For many today, including the presidential candidates, conservation means no-use, to lock up and fully protect. I am not sure we have a candidate before us that understands the true meaning of conservation and how fish and wildlife resources in the nation depend on the hunter/angler participant to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations as well as helping safeguard the funding this large constituency provides for resource management. As a community we need to regain the true meaning of conservation in the collective public mind."

Gordon Robertson
Vice President, Government Affairs - American Sportfishing Association
Gordon Robertson has a natural resources career than spans more than 30 years, much of which has been in natural resource policy, state and federal legislation, as well as administration of fish and wildlife programs. He is currently Vice President of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) in Alexandria, Virginia. The ASA represents the sportfishing industry and has over 900 manufacturing, wholesale, distributor, and retail members. The Association protects its members’ interest for fisheries and angler issues and a variety of trade issues, as well as operating its annual trade show. An avid hunter and angler, Mr. Robertson is an experienced lobbyist and administrator. He is a member of the American Fisheries Society, Wildlife Society and the Society of American Foresters, as well as numerous natural resource and wildlife conservation organizations. He has chaired and served on numerous national committees and task forces that have helped shape issues ranging from wilderness management to assuring that dollars paid by manufacturers and hunters and anglers remain dedicated to the purpose of sound fish and wildlife programs. Throughout his career, he has been involved in key federal and state legislative and policy decisions for the benefit of anglers and hunters and the resources they pursue. Prior to joining the American Sportfishing Association Robertson, was Deputy Chief of the fish and wildlife program of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. He previously held the position of Legislative Counsel for the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Washington, D.C.; Northeast Representative for the Wildlife Management Institute; Conservation Biologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish and Wildlife; and Service Forester for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. A native of West Virginia, Robertson received both his bachelor’s degree in Forestry with an emphasis on wildlife management, and his master’s degree in wildlife management from West Virginia University. He has been recognized at the national and regional level for his contributions to resource management and civic activity.

"“It’s the economy, stupid!” was a popular catch phrase during Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign against George Bush, Sr., in 1992. While the wording was novel, the idea wasn’t. People have always voted with their pocketbooks. In the coming election, the nation's alarming deficit, and the slow growth of the economy will play a primary role. Whoever wins the election will be charged with solving these problems and sportsmen’s issues could either become a sacrificial lamb, or part of the solution. The biggest concerns for sportsmen going into this election is the candidate who promises thoughtless, willy-nilly cuts across the board. Reduced spending will be a mandate of whoever gets elected, but let’s hope we get the kind of people in there who do it the right way. In Oct. 2011, Southwick Associates produced the study The Economics Associated with Outdoor Recreation, Natural Resources Conservation and Historic Preservation in the United States. The report includes figures that reinforce the size and scope of sportsmen's economic impact but also highlight the combined value of outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation. These activities combined have helped to create 9.4 million American jobs and generate $107 billion annually in tax revenue. Clearly, outdoor recreation, like hunting and fishing, is more than just a good time. It’s an important economic engine. Important state and federal programs meant to preserve America’s are potentially on the chopping block, and we need candidates that will intend to save the golden goose—not kill it. Here are just a few programs that are crucial to fishermen: • Funding for federal programs that purchase and conserve critical fish and wildlife habitats. • The National Fish Habitat program. • Funding for Great Lakes restoration. • Funding for State Fish and Wildlife Grants program—a partnership between state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that funds many state level programs, including most state fish hatcheries. • Programs to preserve and enhance Pacific salmon. • The National Park Service. • The Environmental Protection Agency. These are just a few of the agencies, departments, and programs that protect and preserve our fishing in America and, as a result, contribute more than $100 million to the economy. Let's elect politicians who recognize this important contribution and the importance of an environment we're proud to pass along to our children."

Ross Purnell
Editor - Fly Fisherman magazine
Ross Purnell is a Calgary, Alberta, native who grew up fishing the Bow River. Through the first half of the 1990s, he was owner and operator of the Bow River Company. While pursuing a journalism degree during the winters, he eventually quit guiding and went into the newspaper business—first as a reporter, and eventually as editor of a small-town newspaper in rural Alberta. At the same time, he cultured his interest in something new called the Internet. His first fly-fishing article was published on The Virtual Flyshop, owned and operated by Greg McDermid—a fishing buddy from the University of Calgary. McDermid’s enterprise was eventually purchased by Fly Fisherman magazine in 1996. Purnell came on board as the web site’s content director, working out of Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2001 Ross and his family moved to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area where he officially became part of the editorial staff of Fly Fisherman, working directly with longtime publisher and editor John Randolph who was a mentor, boss, and an inspiration. Purnell’s fishing background is mostly Alberta and Montana trout fishing, with many seasons of Skeena River fall steelheading thrown in. He has also fished extensively in Colorado and throughout the Rockies, and especially loves America’s national parks. Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of his favorites. His favorite fishing is Spey casting for steelhead. “Maybe I love it because I’m so terrible at it,” he says. “On every cast there is incredible opportunity to improve, and on every swing there’s a chance to relax, enjoy the scenery, and think about what you can do better on the next cast. It’s reflective, challenging, and methodical.” Ross and his wife Anna have three children Ashley (20), Carson (18), and Breanna (16).

"The greatest challenge we face is the expanding influence of ‘Big Green’ anti-use/preservationist interests with government officials, agencies and mainstream media. Well-funded multi-faceted campaigns use a variety of diverse marketing tactics and populist phrasing to create a manufactured fish or wildlife ‘crisis’ and to then offer proposed ‘solutions’ which, when viewed more closely, actually threaten the future of sport fishing and hunting.  These campaigns increasingly attempt to influence government to greatly restrict or permanently ban recreational access to public lands and waters.  Whether by intent or as collateral damage, many of these initiatives seriously compromise science-based fish and wildlife management and the environmentally sustainable wise use of fish, wildlife and natural resources. Anglers and hunters have always been the first to support scientifically based season restrictions and creel and bag limits on behalf of fish and wildlife conservation. The American Model of fish and wildlife management and the restoration of species and habitat on the North American continent stands as the greatest environmental success story in the history of the planet. The record is clear and evident for well over 100 years. People who fish and hunt continue to lead as they always have, in these efforts. If we allow alternate anti-use agendas and ‘Big Green’ publicity campaigns to replace time tested scientific standards and to adversely influence government policy, we will continue to lose our outdoor heritage sports one closure, one acre, one coastal region at a time. The trend is clear in recent years and anglers and hunters can no longer be merely observers to the ‘Death of a Thousand Cuts’. Be informed. Be involved."

Phil Morlock
Director of Environmental Affairs - Shimano, Inc.
As Director of Environmental Affairs for Shimano in the U.S. and Canada, Phil Morlock oversees Shimano’s environmental stewardship programs in both the fishing and bike divisions, and represents the company in advocacy issues with federal, state and provincial governments and natural resource agencies in the U.S. and Canada. He is frequently in Washington working with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation as a BOD member  and groups like the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) (serving as Chairman of the ASA Government Affairs Committee on Freshwater Issues) and as a BOD member of the Center for Coastal Conservation to advance  and protect the rights and privileges of all recreational anglers. As an avid angler and hunter Mr. Morlock represents the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association (CSIA) and serves as Chair of the Outdoor Caucus Association of Canada in dealing with Canada’s Parliament.  Mr. Morlock has dedicated countless hours to the issues facing sportsmen on both sides of the border and received the 2008 CSIA Chairman’s Award for his work to establish the Parliamentary Outdoors Caucus, modeled after the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

"Access is our Number One challenge.  Sportsmen across the country have been forced to battle for mere access to public resources.  For saltwater anglers, that battle is against those who want to arbitrarily close off vast swaths of the oceans for no scientific reason.  Anglers and hunters were the first conservationists, and we have been paying for conservation for generations.  We are the stewards, and maintaining access to America’s public resources should be our top priority."

Jeff Angers
President - Center for Coastal Conservation
Jeff Angers is president of the Center for Coastal Conservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting good stewardship of America’s marine resources.  He is also chief executive officer of the Center’s affiliated political action committee, Center PAC.  Among other activities, the Center works to elect people to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate who share Center members’ dedication to conservation. Angers serves on the board of directors of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and is active with the American Sportfishing Association, serving on its Governmental Affairs Committee. He also serves on the board of Whitney Bank and is the treasurer of the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana Children. Over the last 25 years, Angers has managed congressional campaigns; lobbied legislative bodies, and written conservation policy.  Prior to his role as founding president of the Center, Angers served 15 years as CEO of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana.  An LSU graduate, he led successful battles to outlaw indiscriminate fishing gear and to protect redfish with game fish status.

"Our ability to coalesce together behind issues impacting sportsmen, shooters, and the fish and wildlife we cherish. In fact, the need to unify legislators behind challenges facing hunting, fishing, trapping, and shooting is why the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was created in 1988-89. We still have a lot of work to do to make sure we are protecting and promoting the interests of recreational hunters, anglers, trappers, and shooters, but that is a challenge the CSF is tackling head on in Washington, D. C., and in states capitols around the country."

Jeff Crane
President - Congressional Sportsman Foundation
Jeff Crane joined Congressional Sportsman Foundation (CSF) in 2002 and brings thirty years of experience in on-the-ground natural resource management and policy expertise at the federal, state and international levels. A life-long outdoorsman, Jeff spent five years working in the US Congress and was instrumental in establishing the Maryland legislative sportsmen's caucus prior to joining CSF.  In addition he has experience developing wildlife habitat management plans in the United States and South Africa. During his eight years in Africa, Jeff obtained his professional hunter's license and guided hunts for big game animals. Jeff holds a BA in political science and an MBA. At the CSF, Jeff is the primary interface with the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. In this role, he helps develop policy, facilitate meetings and coordinate legislative strategy with legislative staff, members of the Caucus and the conservation community. Jeff also oversees CSF's State Caucus programs. Jeff Crane is the only person to sit on both the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council (WHHCC) and on the Sport Fishing & Boating Partnership Council (SFBPC), federal advisory councils that report to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior. In addition, Jeff is a member of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) serving as its Chairman in 2005.  He is a member of the Government Affairs Committee for Safari Club International (SCI) and the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Committee for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

"Recruitment! Ensuring enough youngsters take up hunting to keep the sport alive, despite increasing urbanization, anti-gun and anti-hunting sentiment, lack of opportunity and access to hunting lands and shooting ranges."

Rick Van Etten
Editor - Gun Dog
Rick Van Etten, editor of Gun Dog, graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A. in communications and an M.A. in English. A lifelong outdoors enthusiast, Rick has hunted upland gamebirds and waterfowl throughout North America with all breeds of sporting dogs, including his own field-bred Irish setters. He lives in Iowa, where he is currently introducing Mattie, his latest setter puppy, to Hawkeye ringnecks.

"It seems that hunting and fishing consistently face challenges on multiple fronts, from public-land access to invasive species. But those concerns are all overshadowed by the fact that sportsmen need to do a significantly better job of recruiting new participants into our ranks. Without an expanding base of enthusiasts to support the industry, pay fish & wildlife excise taxes, and maintain the traditions of hunting and angling, those activities could eventually drift out of the public consciousness and become a lost piece of Americana. For our sports to survive and thrive, we need to share them with others, especially those who otherwise may never be exposed to hunting or fishing.  We need to find them, include them, support them and retain them within our ranks."

Ken Dunwoody
Editorial Director - Game & Fish Publications
Ken Dunwoody grew up in Iowa and Illinois, where he developed a passion for fishing and learned to hunt deer, waterfowl and pheasants. After earning his degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, he worked as a newspaper sports editor in suburban Chicago before transitioning into outdoor magazines. For the past 20 years, he’s served as the Editorial Director for Game & Fish Publications, which publishes 28 monthly magazines that cover hunting and fishing in every state across the continental United States.

"I believe the biggest challenge sportsmen face in the years ahead is remaining relevant in a society that becomes more and more disconnected with nature every year. Unfortunately, this is the result of significant societal trends that cannot be undone simply by electing the right candidates in November. As Americans become increasingly dependent on technology and automation in their everyday lives, and as ever greater percentages of our populations occupy urban and suburban settings, it is imperative that hunters and anglers serve not only as a conservation voice but as a voice for the very real emotional, physical and spiritual benefits individuals and communities can gain from cultivating an intimate relationship with the natural world."

Christian Berg
Editor - Petersen's Bowhunting
Christian Berg is editor of Petersen’s BOWHUNTING. Berg is an avid hunter and angler, but his biggest outdoor passion is getting close to trophy whitetails with bow in hand. When he’s not hunting or working at “The Modern Bowhunting Authority,” Berg enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, two sons and Goldie, his shed-hunting Labrador retriever.

"To protect and foster the outdoor sporting heritage in America."

Karl Wickstrom
Founder/Editor-in-Chief - Florida Sportsman
Karl Wickstrom, born Moline, IL, Sept. 20, 1935, grad. University of Florida BSJ, 1957: U.S. Air Force reserve 1958-1966; reporter/editor Orlando Sentinel, 1958-59; writer, The Miami Herald 1960-68, first place investigative reporting Florida Associate Press, 1966, national first place public service, Sigma Delta Chi journalism society. Executive asst., The Florida Senate, 1967; Founded Wickstrom Publishers, 1968, publishing Aloft Magazine for National Airlines passengers, Florida Sportsman Magazine. Titles presented more than 25 awards, Florida Magazine Assn., Florida Outdoor Writers Assn. Continuous publishing of magazine-generated conservation content and Openers editorials, summarized separately as Florida Sportsman’s Conservation Record. Initiated gill-net ban constitutional amendment campaign, adopted ’95; recognized as man of year by IGFA and nationally by the American Sportfishing Assn. and several other organizations. Board member of constitutional amendment campaigns to require that polluters  pay for Everglades degradation, and unification of fresh and saltwater management under one agency. A founder/honorary chair, vp, of Florida Conservation Assn./Coastal Conservation Assn., Appointed to governor’s Commission on the Future of the Environment; board member National Coalition for Marine Conservation, board member Florida Oceanographic Society, vp, Rivers Coalition of Martin/St. Lucie County. Remains as founder/editor-in-chief, Florida Sportsman.

"Declining participation rates and /license sales to of hunters and fishermen in nearly all states."

Steve Mealey
Vice President for Conservation - Boone and Crockett Club
Born: Waldport, Oregon, 1942. Raised: Sweet Home & Blue River, Oregon. Education: BA Pol. Sci., U of O, 1964; BS Forestry, U of Idaho, 1973; MS Wildlife Mgmt., Mont. State Univ., 1975. Work Experience: US Air Force Intelligence Officer, 1964-68; Big Game Hunting and River Outfitter and Guide, Salmon, Idaho, 1968-72; Grizzly Bear Researcher, Wyoming and Montana 1975-77; US Forest Service, 1977-97 (positions included wildlife biologist, forest supervisor on Shoshone and Boise National Forests, co-leader of Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, Assistant Director of Wildlife and Fish, and Assistant Chief for Strategic Planning); Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1997-99; Executive Director, Boone and Crockett Club, 1999-2001, and Manager of Wildlife, Watersheds, and Aquatic Ecology, Boise Cascade Corporation, 2001-2005. Current Positions: Retired; President, Mealey Timber Company; Honorary Life Member, Boone and Crockett Club; Vice President for Conservation, Boone and Crockett Club. Home: On the McKenzie River near Leaburg, Oregon. Family: Married since 1964 to Marty; 3 grown children, and 3 grandchildren  

"In my view, ongoing demographic changes represent the worst problem. Despite population growth in the U.S., the number of outdoorsmen remains relatively flat. As this trend continues, loss of habitat, strained public resources and less of focus on wildlife are sure to result."

Gordon Whittington
Editor-in-Chief - North American Whitetail
Gordon Whittington has been an avid deer hunter for more than 50 years, the last 28 of those while associated with North American Whitetail. His passion for whitetails has led him to hunt and observe them in nearly 40 states and provinces from northeastern Canada to Mexico and even New Zealand. Gordon edited NAW for almost two decades and currently serves as editor in chief. In addition to being a regular contributor to the magazine and a founding cast member of both NAW TV and Dr. Deer, Gordon is a popular seminar speaker and book author on a broad range of topics associated with deer hunting and management.

"Access to land on which to hunt. A friendly smile and the offer to help split wood no longer gain prospective hunters a place to hunt. Landowners have learned that good hunting property has value—often more value than crop land. So, one can hardly fault them for opting to lease out their wooded draws and timbered ridges to augment their income. Unfortunately, kids scouring the countryside on dusty bicycles in search of a place to knock over a few squirrels are coming up empty-handed. In the end, it’s easier to simply stay home and play computer games. The solution? I don’t know if there is one. Access programs that encourage landowners to allow public hunting on their land certainly help, but my best advice to young folks that love to hunt—but have no land—is to move west and park yourself beside a big chunk of public land. Get a good backpack or a horse that allows you to penetrate the remote honeyholes on that public land, and live your life in hunting happiness."

Joseph von Benedikt
Editor-in-Chief - Shooting Times magazine
Joseph von Benedikt was raised in a remote region of southern Utah, 100 miles from the nearest stoplight or supermarket. His early interests included gunsmithing, competitive shooting, hunting, rodeo, bluegrass guitar, literature and writing. During his late teens and twenties he spent nine years guiding big-game hunters and four years doing part-time amateur gunsmithing. He also studied creative writing at colleges in Idaho and Utah while competing successfully in several shooting sports across the Rocky Mountain region. After he published several articles in hunting and shooting magazines during his college years, von Benedikt moved his English bride home to southern Utah where he planned to work as a freelance writer in the firearms industry. A few months later, InterMedia Outdoors (then Primedia) hired von Benedikt as the associate editor of Petersen’s RifleShooter, G&A’s Handguns, and the Special Interest Publications department, and moved him to Los Angeles. Two years later, at the 2009 SHOT Show, IMO offered von Benedikt the position of Editor in Chief of Shooting Times magazine, which involved a move to central Illinois, where von Benedikt currently works and resides.

"The inability to find a place to hunt is the biggest threat we face. If a hunter can’t find a place to hunt or to take his kids hunting, he will simply give up and sell his guns and/or bows. All the other challenges we face are minor compared to the lack of access. In some parts of the West there are areas of public land that are landlocked by private land. The private property owner charges outfitters a trespass fee to access the public land. The outfitter then profits by using the public land to conduct hunts for his clients while the public is locked out. This is just one small facet of the problem. States need to come up with some sort of program that promotes hunting access on private property. Certain states, such as Montana and the Dakotas, have accomplished this, but it must happen across the country on a larger scale if hunting is to remain an option for the non-land-owning public.    "

Curt Wells
Editor - Bowhunter Magazine
Curt Wells, has been bowhunting and writing about bowhunting for 32 years. He has bowhunted in half the states in the country, nine Canadian provinces/territories and a total of five countries. He is currently Editor of Bowhunter magazine and Co-Host of Bowhunter TV.

"Public perceptions about hunters and shooters."

Steve Sanetti
President & CEO - NSSF
Prior to becoming President and CEO of the NSSF in May, 2008, Steve culminated his 28 year career at Ruger with a five year term as its President and Chief Operating Officer. He has served on the boards of the NSSF, SAAMI, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities, and the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation. A hunter and target shooter since his college years on the VMI Rifle Team, he is an avid firearms collector, NRA Certified Rifle, Pistol and Home Firearms Safety Instructor, and a Technical Advisor to the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners. Steve is the recipient of the 2004 Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Award, a professional member of the Boone & Crockett Club and a member of the Board of Firearms Advisors for the Cody Firearms Museum.

"Our biggest conservation challenge is making sure that the public understands that fish and wildlife conservation is relevant to their lives.  With 85% of our nation’s population living in urban settings, we have to define the public benefits that accrue to them by our efforts to provide healthy fish and wildlife habitat in abundance and in a widely distributed manner."

Dr. Steve Williams
President - Wildlife Management Institute
Steve Williams is the President of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), a 101-year old, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to science-based, professional wildlife management.  WMI provides: science and management support, program review and policy development advice, conservation information and education, conservation project administration, and service to our profession and partners. As President of WMI, Steve serves on the Board of Directors for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, National Conservation Leadership Institute, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partners, and is a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club and The Wildlife Society. Prior to joining WMI, Steve served as Director of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Deputy Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and Assistant Director for Wildlife and Deer Project Leader of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.  He received his B.S. and Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University and a M.S. from the University of North Dakota.

"The intersection of development of the habitat, driven by human population growth and the changing of the climate, will create unprecedented pressure on fish and wildlife populations. Wildlife will try to move, but the migration may be preempted by development across the landscape.  When fish and wildlife become rare or endangered, the closure of hunting and fishing will be the first response of government."

Jim Martin
Conservation Director, Berkley Conservation Institute - Pure Fishing
Jim Martin retired after 30 years with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and now works as conservation director for the Berkley Conservation Institute, a branch of Pure Fishing.  Pure Fishing is the largest fishing tackle company in the World and is an industry leader in conservation advocacy. During his career with ODFW, Jim spent six years as chief of fisheries and three years as salmon advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber.  Jim led the team that developed the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, a state conservation plan to address Endangered Species and clean water issues in Oregon. Jim has a Bachelors Degree in Wildlife and Masters Degree in Fisheries from Oregon State University. Jim formerly held a courtesy appointment at OSU, where he taught Natural Resource Problem Solving in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Jim is the former Chairman of the Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.   He is a science and policy advisor for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Assn.  In 2005, Jim was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.  He was recognized for lifetime achievement as an alumni fellow by Oregon State University in November, 2011. Jim is a lifelong sportsman and loves salmon, ducks and Labrador Retrievers.  He lives in the small community of Mulino, about 15 miles south of Portland, Oregon.  He shares his dream home in the country with his wife of 43 years, Carolyn, and Kodiak and Yukon, the wonderdogs.

31 Responses
  • Pete Self

    access—closure of public lands through loss of funding for maintenance and operations. Loss of opportuning to fish, hunt, camp or protect resources because funding is being stripped away; even when the funds were generated by specific user fees.

  • Joe Salerno

    I believe overfishing and pollution will be the biggest problems facing us in the future.

  • Craig

    short term, loss of CRP funding. Big impact on habitat for all kinds of wildlife, game and non-game.

  • Paul

    Access to public lands and just being allowed to hunt are going to be future problems. Pollution is a major concern too.

  • Will Godfrey

    Appropriate access to public lands and clean flowing rivers. The multiple use system breaks down because multiple use becomes single use by the dominant powerful user. The government always follows politics not the science. that is a problem.

  • Ken

    Misinformation about the candidates. Santorum IS a hunter. Ask the people of Iowa. Romney says he hunts “varmints” and “moose, I mean elk” which scares me since this certainly is less than “avid.”

  • Jack

    We need more open land and less development along waterways, streams and shorelines. We need to save land from development. We’re open land at an alarming rate.

  • Nathan

    To get rid of this President and bring fiscal sanity back to our country. People we have a 15 trilllion dollar debt and growing. We’ll (gov’t and us Americans) have NOTHING to spend on the outdoors if we don’t getour fiscal “environment” in order,

  • jeff

    Getting Sportsmen engaged…Hunters, Anglers, and shooters are an incredibly powerful group yet over 50% fail to even exercise make their voice heard and vote.

  • Wayne Smith

    At present our hunting and fishing lic. funds go the the states general find in most states. Then we must beg for them to be returned to projects that benifet us. The exsise tax we pay on sporting goods is not audited. I’ll bet this money is not spent on wildlife either. All this leads to a loss of hunting and fishing opportunitys and the quality of the experience. Though this is mostly a states issue it contributes to the loss of public opportunites on federal land. This is a big issue, and we must correct it, the loss of freedoms and the constant intrusion of goverment into our rights under the Constution is even more important. The liberal tactic is to make a primis that sounds somewhat logical and follow with an attempt to remove our rights. An example is the black rifle has no sporting purpose. The public takes that for a truth, even sme sprtsmen fall fo it. The constitution makes no such argument, in fact it makes the oppsite statement. We can not allow any intrusion into our rights go un chalagened. We must unite anc confront every attempt to limit our freedom and intrusion into our sports.

  • malcolm tarkington

    Clean water and clean air! Stop privatizationan of streams and coastlines, they should belong to everyone!

  • mike conlin

    I was the Fisheries Chief in Illinois for over 30 years. I am now retired, but take a look at the attached link to see the fix that Illinois anglers are in because of the existing political and bureacratic ineptitude. We desperately need your help!!

  • JOHN

    why hasn’t the goverment spend some monies on cleaning up the rivers, the money was allocated years ago, where is it. I’m sure we as sportsman would help in any way we can.

  • Ron Peterson

    Privatization of public waterways for personal use or commercial use.

  • We need a definite statement by candidates on their support for the 2nd Ammendment, the right to bear arms and the right to concealed carry.

  • kim

    If we just uphold our existing constitution that was found by our God-fearing forefathers, we certainly wouldn’t have any of these problems today. My fear is that these liberal politicians who continually try to pass laws that limit our freedoms, our current President included, and we will end up in war amongst ourselves. We have the right to bear arms to not only protect our families against criminals but also against our own government should they try to take our firearms away.

  • Matt Vincent

    I certainly concur with the statements above by Chris Angers, Jeff Crane, Chris Wood, and Curt Wells. Without increased access to quality ground, and quality habitat to sustain wildlife on that ground, the avid hunter is going to face a major dilemma in the coming years. The options are clear and irrefutable. Sportsmen will either have to be rich enough to afford this outdoor passion. Or they will have to own the land they hunt. Or, worse, they will have to endure hunting on already overcrowded public lands and hope to get that opportunity through an often inequitable draw system. Three choices and that’s it, my friends. Whether any of us want to admit it or not, there’s not enough public lands in most states to sustain a large demographic of public lands hunters. The days of knocking on a landowner’s door to ask permission to hunt [and being granted that privilege] are still alive and well in a few states. But the economic incentive for the landowner has spread and those days are numbered. Worse, and unbeknownst to most hunters, commodity prices, particularly for corn and wheat, are taking more acres out of CRP and that trend will continue as long as a farmer can get $6 per bushel corn and $7 per bushel wheat. Or more! Wheat prices jumped to over $13 per bushel last year. And if a farmer gets $35 per acre for his CRP ground and can take it out and make over $250 per acre by farming it back to wheat and stubble, guess which option he’s going to take. And if you don’t believe it, look at farm land prices. If just the past year in places like Kansas and Colorado, ground that was selling for as little as $400 per acre 10 years ago have skyrocketed to $2,000 acre. Irrigated corn ground here in northeastern Colorado has cold for more than $5,000 per acre just this year. I’ve seen Iowa farm ground going to more than $11,000 per acre now. I believe the days of the benevolent, hunter-friendly farmer are decreasing in direct correlation to the price of farm land and commodities. Unless, of course, he’s farming for sportsmen, which I will touch on in conclusion. Lagging far behind these rising land, corn and wheat prices are the lowly prices a farmer can collect through private land enrolled in CRP. And every acre of CPR taken out further diminishes quality wildlife habitat. There are solutions, of course, but it would take a great conservationist like Jim Martin, one of your staff members, to see the thing through. The solution would start at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Farm Bill and through FSA offices nationwide. Yes, someone like Jim Martin would have to enter the nest of rattlesnakes to get the job done because it won’t be easy. In a nutshell, next in line would the sacrifice of the private landowner, who currently accepts a CRP payment; i.e., public tax dollars. Because he accepts public tax dollars to leave his farm land fallow, and because avid sportsmen, I believe, would be willing to provide for a tax “check off” box on his state income tax form [that money earmarked to supplement the current CRP federal rate] to gain access to prime wildlife cover on private ground, a dual benefit could and would result. The one sticking point would be for the landowner, who for once would be obligated to provide public access. As a private landowner myself, I know that will ruffle some feathers. But I see it as the one and only solution to preserve our chosen sport. Why? Currently, there are many private landowners collecting sizable CRP payments, while denying public hunting with the habitat bought and paid by the rest of us in subsidies. These same landowners then turn around and charge large sums from sportsmen by creating pay-for-play “hunting clubs.” Seems like that’s double-dipping. The system needs to be changed. And I’m certain that the late Jim Range, founder of the TRCP, would agree my views. Thanks for listening to this windy reply.

  • Drew

    Place. You need 2 basic things to hunt: a weapon and a place. The NRA has done a great job of protecting the weapon part; no politician in his right mind is going near that issue. However, the place is threatened from privatization, pollution, climate change, and development. What good is having a rifle if you don’t have a place to hunt? If we protect the place, the habitat, the resource, then we can secure the future of hunting and fishing for our generation and all the ones to follow.

  • Dale

    There will be NO HUNTING and NO FISHING in our future if we do not cleanse ourselves the current leadership in this country.We must VOTE out the ever bigger spenders form school boards to President of the U.S. ,no matter what party they espouse.
    We must eliminate the seeming endless supply of bureurocrats and their endless demands for outrageous benefits,and all the “rules” they impose on us.

  • Climate change is the only issue that cuts across fish & wildlife habitat from coast to coast, and it’s the only issue that has the potential to completely eradicate a hundred years of conservation work. Nothing else comes close – it’s climate change.

  • Hey very nice blog!

    • Note: Matthew Koehler was having tlruboe posting on this page. I’ve posted a comment he emailed to me here. Ben Lamb: While I agree that Tester’s Sportsmen’s Act is not as bad as Bishop’s Sportsmen’s Act you are incorrect that Tester’s bill isn’t controversial. (For a good example, see the letter below signed by 200 environmental, conservation, wildlife and human health protection organizations).Sure, some aspects of Tester’s Sportsmen bill aren’t all that bad; however, other provisions within the bill could potentially have serious negative consequences both in the short term and the long term.One such example is the provision forever forbidding the EPA from ever regulating toxic lead in hunting ammo and fishing tackle. It is simply bad public policy for politicians like Tester to interfere with agencies protecting human and wildlife health. Just imagine if a few decades ago a politician would have passed a rider forbidding the EPA from regulating lead in paint. Or lead in gas. Or how about DDT?It should be pointed out that Environmental Chairwoman Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was successful helping to stop this bill because of her opposition to the Lead Ammo provision.Hopefully, now the Sportsmen’s Act will finally be opened up to debate. Here’s a press release from Monday, before the vote, that contains more info on the Lead-poisoning provisions in Tester’s sportsmen’s bill. I’d encourage people in Montana to contact Tester’s office and ask that the lead-poisoning provision be removed from the Sportsmen’s bill.P.S. Ben Lamb: I’m glad you can’t censor and remove my comments on this site, like you have repeatedly done with substantive comments I’ve attempted to post on your Montana Bully Pulpit blog.

  • Certainly along with you 100%. I might uncertainty, to begin with, on the other hand think the idea not really worth mentioning.

  • Allison

    Actually, not only the typical phrase “fishermen”! What about us “fisherwomen”. Anywho, invasive species will greatly impact our biodiversity of species not only of fish but the plants as well. As for the undereducated people that don’t have a clue what dumping waste & chemicals and such not only does to humans as well as everything as a whole. It’s called…The Tree of Life. Look it up, you would be amazed at what you can learn from it!! Please, it takes one person at a time just to spread the word. Hopefully the logic of it all will sink in!
    That’s my preaching for this splendid day:-)

  • Rick Persson, Vice President, SAFER,Inc

    Loss of access is a huge problem expecially here in Florida. The Corp of engineers plan to restore the Everglades is a Joke. The only thing they will accomplish by filling in the canals, will be to eventually kill all the mammals, and gamefish in one of the best Bass fisheries in the Entire State.

  • I see the biggest challenge is not enough lakes or state parks for people to fish or hunt or even camp , They are closing down more land then any other and the federal govenment is buying up land we cannot get to . We need more lakes and state parks and camp grounds everywhere

  • John Gibson

    My name is John Gibson. I am president of and organizatiion named Public Land and Water Access Inc. We have been in the access business for over 30 years. Our mission is to protect and increase access to the boundary of public land and water. If you can reach the boundary the access beyond that point isa question of What kind of access?. I see a flavor in your blogs that suggests that only Right Wing Republicans can save us.
    Let me say right here that is not true in Montana. Last legislative session the state House passed a bill that would have gutted ourt stream access law. Montana has one of the best in the nation. It passed with 99%Republican Support. Only one Democratic voted in favor.We killed it in the Senate. The same crowd would have gutted a Habitat Montana program if the Democratic Governor had not vetoed it .This program is cfunded by sportsmen’s dollars.
    Our organization had opened many roads to publc land and water that were illegally closed. We are currently in lawsuits to open more. The Republican Party is our worst enemy. Cherck out our web site if you want to see what we.are up to. We are all volunteers. We are all hunters and anglers but when we open a road or trail it/s for everybody. John Gibson

  • I heard the price of Ammo would Sky-Rocket, and Magazines would be limited to 10 bullets per Magazine if Obama becomes President Again! Also, there are a few things about Firearms such as: How many a person could have – if any? I would like to know the gun control Restrictions Obama is trying to enforce onto the American public during this Presidential Race of 2012?

  • OregonMike

    I believe the biggest threat to shooters now and in the future is a government and it’s policies that minimize the importance and guidance of the Bill of Rights and Constitution. The current administration shows over and over a disdain for our freedom oriented American way of life with minimum government intrusion.

  • Justin Wayne

    I believe Ken Dunwwody said it the best. There are different many orginizations that threaten the future of hunting, fishing, ect. There are also many invasive species that our threatening our precious resources such as the Asain Carp. But despite all that, if we as sportsmen do not continue to spread the love of the outdoors to others, then all the conservation efforts are a giant waste of time. Don’t think that you have to just take children into the field, take your girlfriend/boyfriend, your neighbor, anyone who has a desire to experience the outdoors. I try each year to take several new people into the field each year waterfowl hunting, fishing, or just out finding shed antlers. The look on your young cousins face when that 4 pound bass hits that lure or seeing your longtime friend bag his first longbeard is all the thanks I’ll ever need. It’s why I love this sport and will continue to spread the love and respect of our natural resources.

  • tim ethier

    The biggest threat to real hunters are the gun nuts out there who refuse to even consider a ban on weapons no hunter uses–assault weapons–as well as ammo drums and magazines that hold over 10 rounds. Nobody needs weapons like this and the fact that gun owners let the nuts out there lead the way in opposing reasonable limits hurts all real hunters.

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