NSSF Commends Reintroduction and Action on Sportsmen’s Act of 2017

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan reintroduction of S.733, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2017 and the quick action to favorably report it out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Similar legislation was agreed upon by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate late last year, but stalled in a joint House-Senate conference committee. The bipartisan legislative package expands and enhances sportsmen’s access by making federal lands throughout the nation “open unless closed” for fishing, hunting, recreational shooting, and other outdoor activities.

The legislation is sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), both members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, along with CSC leaders Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

“The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act will help ensure that our nation’s hunting, fishing and shooting traditions are preserved, protected and promoted,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “This legislation addresses many priorities for American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters and its reintroduction in the Senate and immediate committee hearing is representative of the commitment these senators and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus shares for the sportsmen’s community and for America.”

The proposed legislation package would:
•Reauthorize federal lands are “open unless closed” policy for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
•Allow transport of bows and crossbows on National Parks lands;
•Exempt film crews of three or less from commercial filming fees and additional permits;
•Implement the “Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures” (HUNT) Act, improving access to federal lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation;
•Increase states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funds for construction and maintenance of public recreational shooting ranges;
•Permanently establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting issues. Read more

Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Introduce Legislative Package for Hunting, Fishing

(Washington, DC) – This week, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Martin Heinrich (NM), along with CSC leaders, Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), introduced a bipartisan sportsmen’s package of legislation (S. 733) in the Senate.

Provisions within this bill would increase access to public lands for outdoor recreation, and enhance opportunities for pursuing hunting, angling, and recreational shooting traditions. Key provisions within S. 733 include:

  • Reauthorizing federal land open to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting;
  • Reauthorizing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act;
  • Exempts commercial filming permits for film crews of three or fewer, or for news gathering purposes;
  • Authorizing the Hunt Unrestricted on National Treasures (HUNT) Act
  • Amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allocate funds for construction and expansion of public target ranges on federal land;
  • Permanently establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, and recreational shooting.
  • Allows the transport of bows or crossbows across National Park Service (NPS) land;
  • Allows use of qualified hunter volunteers to manage wildlife on NPS land. Read more

Include safety as part of spring turkey hunting preparation

Spring turkey hunting success and safety comes down to the same thing – proper planning. Preseason scouting can put hunters in the right position when turkeys come off the roost, increasing their chance for success.

That same preseason preparation should happen with equipment and with the hunting plan, said Jeff Barnes, recreation safety officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“Hunters need to go through their equipment to make sure everything is in good shape, make sure their calls sound like they want them to sound and pattern their shotgun with the ammunition that’ll be used during the hunt so they know where the bulk of the shot is hitting,” he said.

Being familiar with the equipment will help minimize any disturbance to the roosting birds when hunters are setting up in the dark.

“Turkeys are aware of their surroundings so hunters should stay close to cover even when coming to the timber in the darkness. Know how to set up your blind in the dark. Know how you want to set up your decoys in the dark,” Barnes said.

Turkey hunters are skilled in the art of concealment either inside a hunting blind or in camouflaged clothing blending in to the understory or fence line.

“Be aware of what’s around you. Even if you’re on private property, there could be other hunters out there who are coming to your call. Don’t shoot at movement; don’t shoot at sound; no turkey’s worth it. I encourage hunters to only shoot after they see the turkey’s beard,” Barnes said. “Being safe is important because the people we hunt with are our family and close friends.”

Hunters who do shoot a turkey are encouraged to not carry it over their shoulder to avoid someone mistaking it for a live bird and take a shot. Barnes suggested hunters use a blaze orange turkey transport harvest bag.

Practicing safe hunting becomes more crucial as the annual spring leaf out progresses.

“The later it gets in May, the harder it is to see. Hunters need to stay vigilant to identify the bird and the beard,” he said.

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Sportsmen’s Alliance Applauds Senate’s Overturning of Alaska Rules Changes

The Sportsmen’s Alliance applauds the U.S. Senate’s passage of House Joint Resolution 69, which reverses an Obama-administration rules change on National Wildlife Refuge System lands in Alaska.

The rule changes, which were adopted in September 2016, expanded the definition of predator control so that state hunting management decisions (season dates, bag limits, methods of take, etc.) fell within the expanded definition and under federal jurisdiction on refuge property. This overreaching federal action banned the most reasonable and restrained means of controlling wolf, black bear and grizzly bear populations. Controlling these apex predator populations is necessary to maintain sustainable populations of prey species such as caribou, moose and other ungulates, as well as the overall balance of the ecosystem. The changes handcuffed wildlife biologists and land managers, and usurped Alaska’s right to manage game species in accordance with state goals and traditions.

H.J. Res 69, introduced by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 225 to 193 and passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47, shepherded by Alaska’s U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. The passage means that Alaska refuge administrators and biologists can once again manage wildlife unencumbered by federal bureaucracy and animal-rights-backed dogma.

Read more

Michigan Cranes on the Menu

By Glen Wunderlich

Ribeye of the sky is what they’re known as in the Central flyway of the United States.  Before running for cover, there are no reports of cattle taking to the air, but for those hunters in the Central states it doesn’t matter, because they’ve found a delectable substitute:  sandhill cranes. 

Michigan has no sandhill crane hunting season, but Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ (MUCC) agenda includes proposed resolutions to change that.  However, what some folks don’t realize is that they are already being hunted in Michigan under federal nuisance permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Depredation permits, however, require that any birds killed cannot be kept for any purposes and must be disposed of, typically in a landfill or buried. 

Farmers applying for permits must first demonstrate that other non-lethal methods have been attempted unsuccessfully to keep cranes from eating or otherwise destroying crops.  And, permit numbers are growing commensurately with the sandhill crane population.  Nuisance cranes typically appear in farm fields in spring, where they uproot young corn sprouts and eat the kernel often requiring replanting of entire fields.  Also, affected are wheat fields, where even mature plants are stripped of grain.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports a growth rate of 10.5 percent per year over the past 50 years for the once-endangered species.  That’s astonishing success!

If Michigan is ever to approve a hunting season for sandhill cranes, it won’t come without certain turmoil, just as was the case with our short mourning dove season a few years ago.  Discussions are certain to focus primarily on emotional arguments, in opposition to scientific reasons to the contrary, though. 

One legitimate argument against hunting of the majestic birds centers on the possibility of killing endangered whooping cranes by mistake.  Whooping cranes and sandhill cranes are similar in size and shape, but whooping cranes are white with black wing tips. The penalty for shooting a whooping crane is a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in prison.  An online test for all sandhill crane hunters must be completed to minimize identification mistakes.

It seems immoral to kill them and bury them, however.  Plus, since no game animal has ever been threatened with species survival in the history of regulated hunting, there simply is no reason to believe that if crane hunting in Michigan is legalized, crane sustainability will be threatened.

The arguments will surface eventually and there is undoubtedly going to be plenty of fireworks, when the proposal is put on the table; we’ve been there with wolves and doves.  By the way, doves are on the MUCC menu, too and we could see this controversial issue raised, once again.

In any event, the anti-hunting fraternity from Washington D.C. is sure to bring out the long knives and the fake-news TV celebrities foisting their typical emotional rhetoric upon us all.  Meanwhile, sandhill cranes will continue to be hunted from Canada to Mexico, while we enjoy another round of popcorn.

NRC Bans Chocolate in Bear Bait

This from MUCC…  Make sure to read all the proposals below, GW.  Very ambitious!

A little over a year ago, Michigan’s bear hunting organizations asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider banning chocolate in bear bait to reduce the risk of harming non-target wildlife. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in sufficient quantities. Organizations including the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation and the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association sponsored a resolution supporting a restriction on chocolate in bear bait through the Michigan United Conservation Clubs policy process. At the MUCC Annual Convention in June, MUCC’s member delegates approved the resolution, as well as another resolution asking MUCC to educate hunters about the dangers of chocolate in bear bait. On Thursday, the Natural Resources Commission approved a wildlife conservation order banning the use of chocolate in bear bait.

The ban was adopted as part of the bear regulation update, scheduled every three years. The NRC also adopted new quotas, including an overall 19% increase in Lower Peninsula unit quotas, both increases and decreases in Upper Peninsula unit quotas, raising the maximum number of dogs allowed for hunting or training from six to eight, and increasing the nonresident license cap from 2% to 5%. The DNR’s bear forum, consisting of multiple conservation groups including MUCC and those listed above, met during the year to discuss the changes before the DNR recommended and the NRC adopted them.

This past Saturday, Michigan United Conservation Clubs also held its final Conservation Policy Meeting before June’s Annual Convention in Owosso. The meeting was the last chance for clubs or members to introduce policy resolutions to be considered and voted upon at the Annual Convention. Any MUCC member or affiliate club can introduce a resolution, which if adopted, becomes the policy that MUCC’s professional staff advocates, such as restricting chocolate in bear bait.

Combined with the two earlier Conservation Policy Meetings in September and December, this year’s proposed resolutions will include:

  • Establish a sandhill crane hunting season
  • Designate mourning dove as a game species
  • Develop a short-term non-resident waterfowl license
  • Create a pheasant release program for hunter recruitment
  • Require hunters to wear a fall arrest system/full body harness when hunting from a treestand
  • Reintroduce cisco (lake herring) in Saginaw Bay
  • Establish a fisheries policy which includes angler input on research projects which would impact non-target species and angler access
  • Oppose the sale or transfer of state-owned public land over 80 acres or including riparian access unless designated as surplus land under a transparent and open public process
  • Oppose legislation which creates an unfunded mandate for the DNR resulting in a diversion of game and fish funds without a supplemental appropriation
  • Restrict importation of cervid carcasses from other states to deboned meat, clean skullcap, finished taxidermy, etc., and increase fines for violation
  • Reform captive cervid regulatory structure to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
  • Remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and allow purchase under same process as the National Instant Background Check System
  • Allow bear bait barrels on public land
  • Allow a crossbow to be carried afield simultaneously with a firearm during the December firearm deer seasons
  • Allow youth hunters on private land to hunt within 660 feet of a mentor hunter, provided there is uninterrupted electronic communication, the hunter is over 14 and has completed hunter safety and at least 20 hours of supervised hunting
  • Calls on the Michigan DNR to make it a priority to acquire severed minerals where the State owns the surface only to protect and control the commercial use of public land; particularly underground minerals in State Parks and lands purchased with PR and Game and Fish Funds
  • work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the Public Resource Depredation Order on cormorants; and/or with our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to come up with a law to reinstate cormorant control

These are only proposed resolutions at this point; they will not become MUCC policy unless approved at the Annual Convention by a 2/3 majority of voting delegates representing affiliate clubs and members if the resolution would change a law or regulation, or a simple majority if it wouldn’t.

Support Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ grassroots process to conserve our natural resources for future generations by making a donation at www.mucc.org/donate! Or, stop by the MUCC booth at the Ultimate Sport Show in Grand Rapids March 16-19 and purchase a 50/50 Conservation Jackpot ticket!

Now Available: Mojo’s Scoot-N-Shoot and Tail Chaser Max

MOJO® Outdoors announces that their revolutionary decoys made for the Scoot-n-Shoot style of turkey hunting have been shipped to better retailers for purchase. Turkey seasons are upon us.

MOJO® has absolutely REVOLUTIONIZED how we turkey hunt with the Scoot-N-Shoot style of hunting using the Scoot-N-Shoot and Tail Chaser Series of Decoys. Certainly the most exciting and arguably the most successful method of hunting long beard gobblers. They will come to run you off to protect their hens and their territory. It is their nature.

The new Scoot-N-Shoot is lighter and more compact for better mobility while you scoot in order to shoot. The new Tail Chaser is styled the Tail Chaser Max and has a bigger fan with realistic gobbler head on it, and a new mounting system to provide more site picture and to allow for optical sights. Also, comes with hub to accommodate a real fan. Read more

Scout Turkeys Early or Be Disappointed Later

Scouting turkeys with cameras results in a reduced need to enter the woods and a decreased probability of spooking birds. Set cameras early, and don’t over visit. Jonathan Turner photo.

Your hunting areas have changed and the turkeys have already adapted. Will you?

By Jay Anglin

“It won’t be long… I can’t wait.”

These are just a couple of the common expressions you’ll hear from turkey hunters at this time of year. And while they’re growing increasingly excited about the coming spring season, amazingly, most turkey hunters don’t start scouting until just prior to the season opener. If you really are excited about bagging a longbeard this season, start scouting now.

Many turkey hunters have key spots they rely on to fill tags every year. They know turkeys are present there and they know the lay of the land, so they don’t think they need to scout – not in March anyway.

This mindset is what leads a lot of hunters to failure. I’m just as guilty as the next guy, but I’ve learned that being over confident can have terrible consequences once the season arrives. Fact is, complacency can quickly turn your turkey season into a mess in a hundred different ways.

Why? Because things change. Read more

Moultrie Introduces S-50i Game Camera


for Hunters Who Demand Nothing but the Best
The S-50i game camera boasts an incredible 0.3-second trigger speed
and an unparalleled 100-foot flash range.Birmingham, AL – Moultrie®, the best-selling brand of trail cameras, game feeders and wildlife management products, introduces the S-50i?? as a part of its industry-leading Signature Series of high-end game cameras. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then a camera that captures those pictures—as well as video with sound—with incredible speed and accuracy will become priceless in your scouting arsenal. ???????

With the Signature Series line of cameras from Moultrie, you are getting a camera that
Dan Moultrie inspired, because he knows that accuracy and consistency are essential when it comes to planning the minute details of your hunting strategy. The extended battery life of this camera allows for 28,000 images to be taken on 12 AA batteries, which can result in more information to inform your season. When it comes to your approach to the hunting season, you can go in prepared, or you can go in blind. Read more

Secretary Zinke Shows Support for Sportsmen on First Day in Office


Secretary Ryan Zinke and guests at the signing ceremony. (Source: Department of the Interior)
WASHINGTON — On his first official day as the 52nd Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke issued his first two secretarial orders benefitting the sportsmen and outdoor communities. Zinke invited various members from the sportsmen’s community for the signing ceremony of the secretarial orders that help expand public land access, as well as opportunities to hunt, fish and recreate across the country. Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall was present for the signing ceremony.”Today’s actions by Secretary Zinke are a clear indication that sportsmen and women around the country will have a voice at the Department of Interior,” said Dale Hall. “Providing places for all Americans to hunt, fish and recreate is vitally important, as hunters and anglers are North America’s greatest conservationists. I want to thank Secretary Zinke for his strong commitment and look forward to working him in his new capacity at the Department of Interior.”

Order 3346 overturns the lead ammunition and fishing tackle ban on Fish and Wildlife Service lands, waters, and facilities. The second order, 3347, advances conservation stewardship, improves game and habitat management and increases outdoor recreation opportunities by directing bureaus and agencies to immediately identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded. The order also requests the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to provide recommendations on enhancing and expanding access on public lands and improving habitat for fish and wildlife. Read more

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