As I celebrate my 60th year of hunting, fishing and trapping, there is plenty of good news to report on this 40th anniversary of National Hunting and Fishing Day.
First and foremost, according to a 2011 survey by the US Fish and Wildlife Service the number of hunters increased by 9 percent while the number of anglers grew by 11 percent.
The roughly 50 million Americans who hunted and fished in 2011 spent an amazing $ 75 billion on trips, licenses, equipment, food, gas, supplies, sporting goods and assorted related activities. If you want to support wildlife conservation and real environmentalism, you must support hunting and fishing.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar believes the increase in hunters and anglers is the result of President Obama’s Great Outdoors initiative that encourages Americans to get out and go hunting and fishing. While that may be true in part, Secretary Salazar should be aware of and praise the many local, regional, state and national hunting and fishing organizations who have worked hard at recruiting new hunters and anglers.
The wolf has finally been delisted from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming. This will allow the Wyoming Fish and Game Department to establish a hunting season for wolves that focuses on biodiversity and balance. Let’s hope Montana, Idaho and other states lobby to have the wolf delisted as well. It is long past time.
Many, if not all, states allow young people to fish without license. Other states have liberal hunting and fishing requirements for youth, military personnel and veterans.
There are many other positive, forward momentum programs and policies throughout the various states to expand hunting and fishing opportunities, including extended seasons, bag limits, game permits and increased access and opportunities.
While there is ample good news to report, there is also some bad and ugly news to report.
Some state and federal hunting and fishing laws and regulations require serious scrutiny. Regrettably, many state hunting and fishing regulations are complex, confusing and unnecessary. The hunting and fishing community should demand our regulations be reduced and amended to keep them as simple as possible.
My focus is to work to overturn outdoor laws and regulations that serve no purpose. For example, there remain a handful of states that restrict hunting on Sunday, thereby reducing many hunters’ time afield by 50 percent. This restriction is unscientific, counter-productive and, quite frankly, one of the dumber laws in America.
There are antiquated and illogical hunting and fishing regulations in nearly every state if you look close enough –- and our state game departments should identify these dumb laws and rescind them immediately.
More access to federal land for hunting and fishing should be a requirement. This is our land, and to restrict sporters’ access to our land is tremendously unnecessary and counter-productive.
Texas is home to more Scimitar Horned Oryx than Africa. Because of an unnecessary, anti-science and anti-hunting judicial ruling, the ability to hunt these wonderful animals on private property has been severely restricted. If Mr. Salazar and the Obama administration are as pro-hunting they claim, Mr. Salazar should bring to bear all of his department’s power to nullify this judge’s ruling.
These are the good old days of hunting and fishing. Let’s make them even better for future generations of outdoorsmen and women by continuing to expand opportunities and eliminate counterproductive laws and regulations.
I am proud to join millions and millions of American families for what we expect to be the best hunting season of our lives in 2012. With the wonderful nationwide Hunters for the Hungry program in full swing, we will share more than 250,000 million delicious meals of ultra nutritious venison with soup kitchens and homeless shelters again this year. This is the ultimate example of “wise use” renewable resource conservation the world has ever known, and the entire world is envious of our “we the people” wildlife conservation success story.
Happy National Hunting and Day, America. Kill ‘em and grill like you mean it.
Ted Nugent is an American rock ‘n’ roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of “Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto” and “God, Guns & Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Regnery Publishing).