Rising Gun Sales Explained

Obama Administration Showing Anti-Gun Cards Early

Last update: 5:29 p.m. EST Nov. 10, 2008

NEWTOWN, Conn., Nov 10, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/

As firearm sales continue to increase this year, at a rate of 10 percent over the same period last year and 15 percent in October alone, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — the trade association for the firearms industry — is pointing to gun-owner concerns about an Obama Administration as reason for the boom.

Last week President-elect Obama’s Web site had posted his administration’s agenda for curtailing the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans, thereby validating the concerns of gun owners, sportsmen and firearms enthusiasts all across the country. Curiously, the Obama-Biden gun control agenda was taken down from the Web site after just two days.

President-elect Obama’s Web site stated he would make permanent the expired “assault weapons” ban of 1994, a ban on firearms that was based on cosmetic appearance, such as the type of stock on the gun, and not functionality. The expired ban did nothing to reduce crime while it was in place. President-elect Obama’s Web site intentionally misled the American people by referring to these firearms as “weapons that belong on foreign battlefields.” These firearms are not machine guns. In reality, these commonplace firearms that President-elect Obama wants to permanently ban are used in shooting competitions and are found in homes and hunting lodges all across the country. They fire only once with each trigger pull, no spray firing, and they shoot the same ammunition as other firearms of the same caliber.

President-elect Obama has also promised to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, a law which restricts public access to sensitive, law enforcement — only firearms tracing data. Public release of gun trace data outside law enforcement has and will continue to jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations, putting the lives of law enforcement, witnesses and others at risk. This is why Congress, ATF, and law enforcement, including the nation’s largest police organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, agree on the importance of securing this sensitive data. Access to gun trace data should only be available to law enforcement taking part in a bona-fide investigation, and law enforcement already has the access it needs for this purpose. No law enforcement agency has ever been denied access to trace data as part of a criminal investigation.

The Obama-Biden Web site also called for “childproofing” all firearms, despite firearm-related accidents being at their lowest levels in history, including a 60 percent decrease over the last 20 years, and a federal law that requires firearms dealers to provide a lock with each handgun sold and to have locks available for consumers to purchase. Firearms industry members have a long history of supporting the safe and responsible use and storage of firearms through programs such as Project ChildSafe, a campaign developed by the NSSF that has distributed over 35 million free gun lock safe storage kits throughout the United States. For years, manufacturers have voluntarily provided a free locking device with each new firearm. Thankfully, the National Safety Council reports that childhood firearms accidents now comprise less than 1 percent of all fatal childhood injuries.

Finally, the appointment of Rahm Emanuel, the strident chief architect of the Clinton-Gore gun control agenda, as President-elect Obama’s chief of staff sends an unambiguous message to gun-owners and members of the firearms industry.

“The increase in firearms sales was predictable,” said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. “It’s clear from President-elect Obama’s voting record, and the promises that he continues to make, that gun control will be coming back to the White House. Eloquent rhetoric notwithstanding, sportsmen, gun owners and prospective gun owners recognize this and are reacting accordingly.”

For more information on gun sale statistics, legislative issues and general firearm related questions, please visit the NSSF Web site at http://www.nssf.org/ — the media’s resource for all things firearms.

SOURCE National Shooting Sports Foundation http://www.nssf.org/

Comment by Glen Wunderlich, Outdoor Columnist follows:

Maybe the Obama administration will not be able to take our guns, as some would argue. However, as in the Clinton gun-ban years, its “common sense” approach to circumvent the intent of the Second Amendment by banning certain ammunition or firearms that look menacing is reason enough for concerned citizens to stock up while it’s still legal.

I, for one, will never understand why any lawmaker who attempts to outlaw any firearm – expecting that by so doing, criminals will be foiled – fails to comprehend how the same firearm can be a useful tool in defense by law-abiding citizens against those same criminals. If it is too good for bad guys, it would be just right for me.

Results of CDC Study Questioned


The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry — issued the following statement in response to study results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released by the North Dakota Department of Health, showing no evidence that lead or “traditional” ammunition pose any health risk to those who consume harvested game meat.

Recognizing that hunters and their families may be concerned or confused by recent news reports about the study, NSSF encourages every individual who may consume harvested game meat to read the NSSF statement, fact box and CDC report made available in this news release.
Facts Hunters Should Know from the CDC Study . . .

1. Consuming game harvested using traditional hunting ammunition does not pose a human health risk.

2. Participants in the study had readings lower than the national average and well below the level the CDC considers to be of concern.

3. Children in the study had readings that were less than half the national average and far below the level the CDC considers to be of concern.

4. The study showed a statistically insignificant difference between participants who ate game harvested using traditional hunting ammunition and the non-hunters in the control group.
5. Hunters should continue to donate venison to food pantries.

The CDC report on human lead levels of hunters in North Dakota has confirmed what hunters throughout the world have known for hundreds of years, that traditional ammunition poses no health risk to people and that the call to ban lead ammunition was nothing more than a scare tactic being pushed by anti-hunting groups.

In looking at the study results, the average lead level of the hunters tested was lower than that of the average American. In other words, if you were to randomly pick someone on the street, chances are they would have a higher blood lead level than the hunters in this study.

Also of note, the lead levels of children under 6 in the study had a mean of just 0.88, less than half the national average. Children over 6 had even lower lead levels. The CDC’s level of concern for lead in children is 10.

A media advisory released by the North Dakota Department of Health cited the highest lead level reading of an adult study participant as still being lower than the CDC lead level threshold of concern for a child, and significantly lower than the CDC accepted threshold of concern for an adult. Furthermore, during a tele-press conference hosted by the ND Department of Health, officials stated they could not verify whether this adult even consumed game harvested with traditional ammunition. Correspondingly, the study only showed an insignificant 0.3 micrograms per deciliter difference between participants who ate wild game harvested with traditional ammunition and non-hunters in the non-random control group.

Also demonstrating their understanding that game harvested with traditional ammunition is safe to consume, the ND Department of Health, following the release of the CDC study results, encouraged hunters to continue donating venison to local food banks as long as processing guidelines were adhered to.

NSSF was critical of the ND Department of Health when earlier this year the Department overreacted to a non-peer reviewed study by a dermatologist who claimed to have collected packages of venison from food banks that contained lead fragments. North Dakota health officials did not conduct their own study, but merely accepted the lead-contaminated meat samples from the dermatologist. The ND Department of Health then ordered all food banks to discard their venison. Serious questions were raised in a subsequent investigative journalism piece published this summer about the scientific validity of the testing of venison samples from the ND food pantries, including concerns regarding the non-random selection of the samples.

It has since come to light that the dermatologist’s efforts were not the independent actions of a concerned hunter, as he claimed. It was an orchestrated strategy by the Peregrine Fund — an organization dedicated to eliminating the use of lead ammunition for hunting. The dermatologist serves on the Fund’s Board of Directors.

For more than a century, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely consumed game harvested using traditional hunting ammunition, and despite there being no scientific evidence that consuming the game is endangering the health of individuals, special interest groups like the Peregrine Fund and anti-hunting groups are continuing to press state legislatures around the country to support a ban on this common, safe and effective ammunition.

These politically driven groups understand that while an outright ban on hunting would be nearly impossible to achieve, dismantling the culture of hunting one step at a time is a realistic goal. Banning lead ammunition is the first step of this larger political mission. We can only hope that with the conclusive CDC results concerning the safety of traditional ammunition, legislatures across the country will listen to science and not anti-hunting radicals.

The notion by some, that any amount of lead is a “concern,” is scientifically unfounded rhetoric that runs contrary to nationwide, long-standing standards of evaluation. The NSSF is pleased that hunters and others can now comfortably continue consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition that has been properly field dressed and butchered, yet we remain unsettled that for so many months good and safe food was taken out of the mouths of the hungry as nothing more than a political gambit by special interest groups.

Sighting In with Iron Sights

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

If you are one of the more fortunate hunters who still has keen eyesight, iron sights offer some distinct advantages. However, as with any choice of sighting mechanism, disadvantages must be understood, so as to maximize potential.

To begin with, iron sights are typically very reliable. They don’t fog up, have no parallax challenges, and given modern versions that are highly visible, they lend themselves to quick sight acquisition.

Long shots are problematic,however, unless the firearm is specifically sighted in to the specific long-range target. That’s fine, if all shots are at that range. If shots are presented closer to the sight-in distance, holding under the target a certain amount is required and only practice afield can insure the best possible accuracy.

Because iron sights offer no target enhancement, as do modern scopes, one is limited to the capabilities of his vision. In most instances, sighting in a firearm with iron sights should be limited to 100 yards or less, because of the difficulty in defining one’s target beyond that.

Let’s say a hunter sights his slug gun in at 50 yards. Once again, if the hunter will not be taking shots beyond that range, the 50-yard sight-in is workable. If, however, he sights in at 50 and has an opportunity at 100 yards, he must block out the target with the front sight to properly elevate the barrel. And, when one blocks out the target, well, you can’t hit what you can’t see. Unless, of course, you are reckless enough to take such a foolish, unethical shot.

To sight in for deer, use a 6-inch black circle on a larger piece of paper. Line up the back and front sights so that the front sight sits in the middle of the rear sight and is in clear view. Here’s the key: Make sure that the 6-inch cirlcle target sits directly on top of the front sight. The 6-inch cirlce must be in total view – not blocked out or partially blocked out by the front sight.

Using the above sight picture will allow you to see your target, and that’s the only way to be successful with iron sights – or, any other sights for that matter.

Political Camouflage

The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his short-comings by blaming his opponents and hope the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned.

Herbert Hoover (1874 – 1964), Opening Quote of Chapter 5, Introduction to Aeronautics: A Design Perspective by Steven Brandt et Al.

Obama’s Weasel Words Matter Most

By Chris W. Cox
Executive Director of NRA Institute for Legislative Action
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama speaks at a rally in Lancaster, Pa., on Sept. 4. He strongly denied that he had any intention of taking away anyone’s shotguns, rifles or handguns. (Associated Press)

In speech after speech, Barack Obama has claimed he would “uphold the Second Amendment.” Mr. Obama, of course, is a polished speaker who says “words matter.” But records matter more. And while Mr. Obama is short on experience on most issues, he’s long on anti-gun votes and even longer on rhetoric. Now’s a good time to review both.

One of Mr. Obama’s first statements on the issue really said it all. During his first run for the Illinois Senate in 1996, Mr. Obama said on a candidate questionnaire that he supported legislation to “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” When challenged about the questionnaire earlier this year, Mr. Obama blamed others, saying his campaign staff had filled out the questionnaire incorrectly. (Unfortunately for that story, a version of the questionnaire later appeared bearing Mr. Obama’s own handwriting.)

Questionnaires aside, Mr. Obama has supported handgun bans even when they trap people who defend themselves. In a 2003 case, a resident of Wilmette, Ill., used a handgun to defend himself from a burglar with a drug habit and a long criminal record, breaking into his home for the second day in a row. Though authorities found the shooting justified, the armed citizen was charged with possessing a handgun in violation of Wilmette’s handgun ban.

Illinois lawmakers proposed legislation that would make self-defense an “affirmative defense” against prosecution for handgun possession in towns like Wilmette. Mr. Obama voted four times against the measure, which passed over his opposition, and over a veto by Illinois’ anti-gun governor, Rod Blagojevich, a long-time Obama ally.

Self-defense at home or outside the home – it’s all just as bad to Mr. Obama.
In 2004, he said he was “consistently on record and will continue to be on record as opposing concealed carry,” and that he’d back “federal legislation that would ban citizens from carrying weapons, except for law enforcement.” Mr. Obama had already put that anti-self-defense belief into action in 2001, voting against a state Senate bill that would have allowed people who receive protective orders – such as domestic violence victims – to carry firearms. Why? Because, in Mr. Obama’s world, “authorizing potential victims to carry firearms would potentially lead to a more dangerous rather than less dangerous situation … It was a bad idea and I’m glad it failed,” he said.

Mr. Obama also claims he’s no threat to hunters. But in 2005, he voted for a ban on all but the smallest rifle ammunition used for hunting (or for anything else). If the measure had passed, it would have classified most rifle ammunition beyond the low-powered .22 caliber as “armor piercing ammunition,” prohibited for civilian manufacture by federal law. The ammunition ban was hardly Mr. Obama’s first act against hunters, either. In 1999, Mr. Obama proposed increasing firearm and ammunition excise taxes by 500 percent. Right now, a rifle that a manufacturer sells for $500 carries an excise tax of $55. Under Mr. Obama’s proposal, that amount would rocket to $330. This would turn a tax willingly paid by sportsmen, which funds many of our wildlife conservation programs, into a tool to punish gun buyers.

Also, while Mr. Obama promises hunters, “I will not take your shotgun away,” his votes tell a different story. In 2003, while serving on the Illinois state Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Mr. Obama voted for a bill that would have banned (as so-called “semi-automatic assault weapons”) most single-shot and double-barreled shotguns, along with hundreds of models of rifles and handguns. If the bill had passed, any Illinois resident who possessed one of these guns 90 days after legislation went into effect, would have faced felony charges. What was that about not taking shotguns away?

As if voting for anti-gun plans wasn’t bad enough, Mr. Obama also helped pay for them. He was a board member from 1994 to 2001 of the anti-gun Joyce Foundation, which is the largest source of funding for radical anti-gun groups in the country. On Mr. Obama’s watch, Joyce donated $18.6 million to approximately 80 anti-gun efforts, including $1.5 million to the Violence Policy Center, the nation’s most aggressive gun-prohibitionist group. Many of the Joyce Foundation’s projects were aimed at editing the Second Amendment out of the Constitution.

But an Obama Supreme Court could do that more directly. Mr. Obama has said he would not have nominated Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. It was Justice Scalia who wrote the majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller, which declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and that D.C.’s handgun ban is unconstitutional. Justice Thomas joined in that opinion. As a member of the U.S. Senate, Mr. Obama also voted against confirming Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both of whom joined Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller. That means four of the five pro-freedom votes on the Supreme Court would not have been there under an Obama presidency.

This is the real Barack Obama. This record matches the attitude Mr. Obama revealed when he said rural Pennsylvanians are “bitter” and “cling to guns.” This record matches what you would expect to emerge from a Chicago political machine where an unrepentant terrorist is “respectable” and “mainstream.”

Finally, with no way to run from his record, Mr. Obama resorts to the ultimate political dodge. Does he support gun registration? “I don’t think that we can get that done.” Banning guns? “I couldn’t get it done. I don’t have the votes in Congress.”

These efforts to ease gun owners’ fears should make any gun owner ask, “Wait … why is he counting all these votes already?” Instead of this not-so-reassuring rhetoric, gun owners deserve the truth. And the truth is clear: Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president in history – bar none.

The Two-Shot Sight In Technique

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA)

If you don’t have a lot of ammo to waste attempting to sight in your gun, here is a technique that’ll save you time and expense. For the technique to be successful, two assumptions are in play: 1) Your first shot must be a good shot – not good as in the center of the target, but good as in trigger pull and not moving the gun in any way as you squeeze the trigger. 2) The ammo must be accurate in your gun. Obviously, if you’ve never tried it before this sight-in session, you will have no way of knowing if it is an accurate load. But, if you have used it before and it performed to your liking, you are ready for the two-shot sight in technique.

First, make sure to use a rock-steady rest such as sandbags – one under the forearm of the stock and one at the buttstock. As in all sighting in sessions, the object is to eliminate human error, so it is extremely important that the gun does not move when the first shot is taken.

Second, note where the first shot hit the target. If you have a friend nearby, have him help steady the gun while you make the following adjustment: Center the crosshairs back on the center of the target, after having removed your adjustment turrets. Then, with your friend holding the gun steady, look through the scope making sure it is centered on the target and begin to move the turrets so that the crosshairs move to the first bullet hole.

That’s it. You are now sighted in using only two shots!

Tips for Sighting In

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Charter Member of Professional Outdoor Media Association

Here are some tips to get sighted in properly. As mentioned in previous writings, a six-inch kill zone will be the standard from any shooting position in the field for deer-sized targets. For target shooting, however, smaller targets help with precision. The orange squares with the black outlines are my favorites for scoped guns and plain black circles are best for iron sights, red dot sights and HoloSights.

Caution: start with a clean gun with no oil or grease in the barrel. Make sure everything is tight – especially scope bases and rings. Wear good hearing protection and protective glasses. Start at 25 yards and make sure you have a good, solid rest at the fore end and butt stock. Sandbags work well but there are store-bought shooting rests that work very well, too. This is not the time to use your elbows for a rest; you can do that in the field, but not when testing ammo. The idea when sighting in is to minimize human error.

Shoot three shots and find the middle of the group. (If you are missing the paper completely, move in to about 10 feet. A single shot will usually be enough to let you know which direction to go.) Remember, at 25 yards to make adjustments at four times what you would at 100 yards. For most guns, you are ready to move the target to 100 yards, if you are dead on at 25 yards. Don’t change anything and shoot another 3-shot group at 100 yards, find the center of the group and adjust to your chosen elevation at 100 yards. Even with our conservative 6-inch kill zone target, we can maximize “Point-Blank Range” by having the bullet or slug impact somewhat high at 100 yards. A few examples follow.

The Point-Blank Range of any gun is the distance out to which a hunter can hold right on the center of the kill zone and be able to hit within the vital zone. This means, if you set up your gun properly, you won’t have to guess whether to hold high or low on the deer. Just go right for the center of the vitals. A lot of hunters make the mistake of sighting in dead on at 100 yards. A 30-06 with a 180-grain spire point bullet going 2700 Feet Per Second (FPS) at the muzzle, with a 100-yard zero puts the bullet 3 inches low at 175 yards. Using the 6-inch kill zone, 175 yards becomes your limit, because the bullet is at the bottom of the vitals.

However, if the same cartridge is set for a 215 yard zero, the bullet reaches its peak of 3 inches high at 130 yards and is 3 inches low at 255 yards. As long as you know the deer is no farther than 255 yards, you can aim dead center and take him out cleanly. Just by changing the zero, you gain 80 additional yards.

Shotguns are relatively slow in comparison – even the hottest sabot offerings of today. Federal, Winchester, and Remington all have high-priced loads costing $12 to $20 per box of 5 rounds boasting 1900 FPS and these can be good using the 6-inch bulls eye philosophy out to 175 yards. Remington’s Premier Core-Lokt Ultra uses a 385-grain bullet and sighted in at 150 yards, will be 6.2 inches low at 200 yards. As fast as these are, you can see that the bullet drops some 6.2 inches in the 50 yards from 150 to 200 yards. The typical ¾ inch, 1-ounce shotgun slugs are heavier and some 500 FPS slower. The best bet is to get to the range and test with your gun and loads, because there are just too many variables to rely exclusively on charts. Whatever you choose to shoot, just make sure the bullet/slug never gets higher or lower than 3 inches when holding dead on.

Once you get sighted in, you can try shooting from various positions and with rests you may use in the field. As long as you can keep 9 out of 10 in the six-inch circle, you are shooting within ethical standards. When finished, don’t clean the gun’s barrel, because a clean barrel may change your point of impact. Just unload the gun, wipe off the exterior, and put it safely away and it will be hunter-ready when needed. Clean it after the season.

Of course, muzzleloaders being stoked with black powder or Pyrodex must be cleaned immediately because of sulfur content, or you run the risk of corrosion within a day! I prefer Hodgon’s Triple Seven for extreme velocity and lack of corrosion concerns.

Silence on the Second

From the NRA News

Do you realize we’ve gone through all three presidential debates, and not one moderator asked a question about the Second Amendment or the Heller case? The biggest case the Supreme Court has handled in years doesn’t merit a single question from the likes of Tom Brokaw and Jim Lehrer. The vice presidential debate was also devoid of questions about your gun rights, thanks to moderator Gwen Ifill.

The American people deserve tough questions and honest answers from the candidates. Here’s the question we should have heard in at least one of the debates. Members of Congress had the opportunity to sign on to a brief in support of the Second Amendment several months ago. Two hundred and fifty members of the House, 55 members of the Senate and the president of the Senate signed that brief. Now, both of you say you support the Second Amendment, but only one of you signed that brief. Senator McCain, why did you decide to sign the brief, and Senator Obama, why did you decide not to sign on to the brief?

Just a few months ago, Barack Obama had the opportunity to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk when it came to supporting your Right to Keep and Bear Arms. It’s too bad the debate moderators didn’t ask the question.

Hunter Statistics 2008

By Kip Adams, QDMA Director of Education and Outreach, Northern Region

Most sportsmen and women realize that hunters are the backbone of wildlife management programs and they fund the lion’s share of our state wildlife agencies. Most also know that hunter numbers are in a steady decline, but fewer realize that the number of big game hunters is only slightly declining or that some states actually have more hunters today than a decade ago. Let’s look at some of the more meaningful statistics and gauge the positive impacts hunters – and especially deer hunters – have on society.

Data sources – The following data are from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2006
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) 2007 Industry Reference Guide, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) 2007 report, Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy. The USFWS report used data through 2006 for hunters 16 years and older while the NSSF report used data through 2005 for hunters of all ages. The years and data sets aren’t exact but the numbers are still comparable, especially when viewing five and 10-year trend data.

Hunters by the numbers – According to the USFWS, 5% of the U.S. population 16 years and older
hunted in 2006. That was roughly 12.5 million hunters. Of those hunters, 10.7 million (86%) hunted big game and 10.1 million (94%) of those hunted deer. These numbers suggest deer hunters comprised about 81% of all hunters 16 years and older in 2006. This highlights the importance of deer hunting and re-emphasizes that deer drive the hunting industry. In 1996 there were 14 million hunters (16+ years), so we lost around 10% of them by 2006. This isn’t a preferred trend, but it’s worth noting during that decade the number of big game hunters remained relatively consistent with only a 5% decline and only a 2% decline from 2001 to 2006.

Hunters lost and found – According to NSSF, 31 states lost hunters from 1995 to 2005. Massachusetts lost nearly 41% of its hunters while Washington lost 36%, Rhode Island lost 33%, New Jersey lost 27%, and Hawaii lost 26%. However, that means 19 states increased their number of hunters during that decade. North Dakota gained a whopping 40%, Tennessee gained 29%, Oklahoma gained 27%, Kentucky gained 19% and Arkansas hunter numbers increased 17%. Noticeably absent from these lists are the “Big 3”. Texas, Pennsylvania and Michigan are the perennial leaders in hunter license sales and from 1995 to 2005 Texas held steady with only a 2% decline while license sales dropped nearly 12% in Pennsylvania and nearly 16% in Michigan. That means Pennsylvania and Michigan each lost nearly as many hunters during that time period as there are in North Dakota!

No Bubbas here
– Data from NSSF showed in 2005 the average deer hunter was 41 years old, white
(96%), male (91%), and married (72%) with a household income of over $52,000. He also hunted deer an average of 13 days per year (I’m guessing many of you reading this are far above average with respect to that statistic), and nearly 20% had four or more years of college education!

Deer rule – The USFWS report showed deer hunting was nearly four times more popular than turkey hunting (the next most sought after species). Deer hunting is popular across the U.S. but in some places more so than others. For example, 96% of all hunting in Pennsylvania is for big game. Granted, we have our share of ruffed grouse and waterfowl, and turkey and bear are included in the percentage of big game hunting, but make no mistake that deer dominate the hunting scene in the Keystone state. Also notable, big game hunting constituted 95% of the hunting in Maine, Michigan, New York and Wyoming.

Hunting where and how – The USFWS report also showed 16% of big game hunters hunted only
public land while 61% hunted only private land. The rest hunted both. Of all hunters in 2006, 2.5
million (20%) used a muzzleloader, 3.5 million (28%) used a bow, and 11.6 million (93%) used a rifle, shotgun or handgun. These statistics are encouraging as the number of archery and muzzleloader users continues to climb while the number of other firearms users remains high. This means more hunters are taking advantage of additional opportunities and seasons, and that is good for hunter retention.

Hunter recruitment – Recruitment is retention’s companion. Fortunately the NSSF, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) and National Wild Turkey Federation started the Families Afield Initiative in 2004. The NSSF explains that Families Afield is an education and outreach program to help states create hunting opportunities for youth. Some of the research-based core values of Families Afield include that parents rather than politics should decide an appropriate hunting age for their children, and youths should experience hunting with an adult mentor before attending a hunter education course. The USSA adds that the program urges states to review and eliminate unnecessary hunting age restrictions and ease hunter education mandates. The goal is to send more new hunters to hunter education classes and reverse the trend of declining sportsmen’s numbers. Fortunately it’s working. Since 2005, 27 states have enacted legislation lowering age barriers for new big game hunters. Through the REACH program, QDMA has sent letters of support for Families Afield legislation to many of the above states’ legislators. As of spring 2008, more than 87,000 new hunters had taken to the field thanks to Families Afield legislation.

Big bucks – According to data from the CSF report hunters spend more on their activity ($23 billion) than the total revenues of McDonald’s. They also spend more on lodging ($614 million) than the annual revenues of Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Econolodge, Rodeway Inn and Sleep Inn combined. In 2006, the National Sporting Goods Association stated hunting and shooting-related equipment surpassed golf in sales, making it number two on the athletic and sports equipment sales list. Only exercise equipment generated more sales, and if hunting were rated as a corporation it would fall in the top 20% of the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies (ahead of Coca-Cola).

Even bigger impacts – Hunters contribute $4.2 billion each year just in state and local taxes. This is
enough to pay the average salaries of 454,000 firefighters, 476,870 teachers or 527,900 police officers. Hunters’ spending adds up to support close to 600,000 jobs and that’s more than the number of people employed by the McDonald’s corporation. Texas leads the list of states as Lone Star hunters spend $2.3 billion, support 47,000 jobs and contribute $262 million to state taxes and $310 million to federal taxes annually!

Hunting’s approval rating – I stated at the beginning of this article that only 5% of the U.S. population 16 years and older hunts. This number may appear small, but only 3% of Americans live the animal rights philosophy. More importantly, 73% of Americans approve of hunting while only 10% believe it should be illegal. These are encouraging numbers but we must be vigilant in our approach to stop the overall decline in hunter numbers and then begin rebuilding them. There is no question the loss of hunters negatively impacts our wildlife management programs and state wildlife agencies and threatens the future of hunting. However, as hunters and wildlife managers we can best combat this by recruiting from outside as well as within our ranks, by adhering to the highest ethical standards in our pursuits, and above all by being good stewards of our natural resources and therefore a benefit to all society.

Kip’s Korner is written by Kip Adams, a Certified Wildlife Biologist and Northern Director of Education and Outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). The QDMA is an international nonprofit wildlife conservation organization dedicated to ethical hunting, sound deer management and preservation of the deer-hunting heritage. The QDMA can be reached at 1-800-209-DEER or www.QDMA.com.

Data used in this article was obtained from the following organizations:
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation – www.sportsmenslink.org
National Shooting Sports Foundation – www.nssf.org
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – www.fws.org
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance – www.ussportsmen.org

Polar Bears to be Hurt by Protections

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Professional Outdoor Media Association

The Interior Department has officially declared the polar bear a threatened species, and accordingly, says it must be protected because of declining Arctic sea ice. Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, said the polar bear species is likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future. One would think our government has invented a means to create more sea ice, but by Kempthorne’s own admission, “This listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting.”

One must wonder then just what this unprecedented legislation accomplishes. I mention unprecedented, because this is the first instance that the Endangered Species Act has been leveraged to protect a species threatened by implications of global warming, which many scientist agree is a hoax perpetrated to advance political agendas.

The protection bestowed upon the bears will not keep any of them from being harvested by hunters, as if hunting has caused concern for growing and sustainable numbers of polar bears in the first place; it simply prevents Americans from importing any portion of harvested bears into the United States, which in effect, will stop American hunters’ dollars going to communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada. So, instead of allowing millions annually to be invested in conservation efforts and communities that rely on the cash influx, Canadian polar bear conservation programs will be gutted. Yet, under a strictly enforced quota system established by scientific studies, local communities will instead continue to harvest the same number of bears for their own sustenance. The money, however, will dry up.

Biologist Mitchell Taylor, who has studied the polar bears for 20 years in the Arctic Territory, says polar bear numbers have grown substantially. The bear population across the Arctic from Alaska to Greenland doubled from about 12,000 to 25,000 since 1960 and Dr. Taylor says threats to polar bears from global warming are exaggerated.

As a matter of fact, these and other populations in Canada hunted pursuant to a quota system are some of the healthiest and most closely monitored polar bear populations in the world, due in large part to sport hunting funds used in sound management practices. Only the large, older males are typically pursued, so as to provide not only trophies from the high-priced hunts, but sustainability of the overall population. Is anybody paying attention?

According to the Polar Bear Specialist Group, the twelve polar bear populations managed wholly or in part by Nunavut appear to be very healthy on the whole. Of those twelve Nunavut populations – all of which are hunted under the quota system – nine are currently estimated to be at target size, and seven of the twelve have increased in size over the previous estimate.

The Federal Wildlife Service (FWS) had approved six polar bear populations for import and the FWS had specifically found these populations to be hunted in a manner “ensuring the maintenance of the affected population stock at a sustainable level.” It’s clear that hunting by Americans has been a vital part of the successful growth of polar bear numbers.

However, the FWS has based its about-face on questionable computer models and projections some 45 years into the future. I wonder how it accounts for this past year’s one degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperature across the world as a result of one harsh winter, which in effect, has wiped out 100 years of global warming. I also wonder why the Canadians haven’t joined in the movement to stop polar bear hunting, if doing so would mean protection for their polar bear population.

Actually, there’s not much to wonder about. When polar bear numbers begin to decline because of this deplorable measure in the name of protection, the global warming alarmists will be right this time. But, while spewing, “I told you so!” their own self-fulfilling prophecy will have created the very calamity they fear.

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