Wildfowling magazine - wildfowling waterfowling duck hunting goose shooting
Greetings from the USA
Tailfeathers" sees similar problems on both sides of the Atlantic

No doubt the youth of our countries need to be introduced and guided in our sport. Today it is literally a battle with society to do so. In some public schools, a student may not necessarily be expelled for expressing a positive opinion about guns, but he sure will see the wrath of the administration in other ways. Perhaps not in a direct manner which can be subject for a law suit, but in an underhanded way that is void of a paper trail. 

A Seven year old was recently expelled for simultaneously pointing his index finger in addition to his thumb raised. (very extreme case, but true). My son had a "splash day" at his pre-school a couple of years ago and brought his "Super Soaker " watergun. I don't know if you have them in Britain, but they resemble a space age zapper thingy, very toyish in shape (toyish, I just invented that word) and are light years away from any Glock 9mm. He was asked to not use it and remained in the closet. I sarcastically asked what the shape of the nozzle was on the hose they "shot" the kids with and got no reply, just a sheepish smirk. Far too difficult to think or use any form of rationale for the child care Director I guess.

So much for using the local school's "public" Gymnasium for waterfowling instruction or a youth gun safety program like the award winning NRA Eddie Eagle Program. Many parents would rather have their children in danger with gun ignorance than safe with education. Their child's life is less important than accepting a NRA program. Oh, there's that evil name again.

What is being done in the US and is growing through a resistance and a reaction to this anti hunter/ anti gun blind observance, is that we are no longer defending our sport in the light that has successfully been given us. We are said to belong to "the Gun Culture" which conveniently linked us to every drug dealer, militia fanatic, Columbine, etc. etc. It went too far. A study by the Center for Media Studies found that over 96% of the time the media was biased. The CMS is very well respected in the media industry and their report, in spite of attempts to disqualify it, had to be respected. It shook up America's media. The cat was suddenly out of the bag, the Media's Love Child knocked on the door and wasn't going away. One of the major News Magazines changed its policies overnight concerning biased reporting about guns. Others followed. It ain't rosy yet, but better.

In our last Presidential Election, the gun issue was hot. Al Gore, although he stated in the debates that he was not after the hunters guns, had his and Bill's anti gun legacy of the last 8 years hung around his neck. We ain't buying it Al. The NRA fought like hell for those years and held them at bay more or less. Took millions ; hundreds of millions, but they did it. In those 8 years the NRA lobby rose to be declared to be the Number 1 lobby group in America. Numero Uno. Nothing more forceful. During the elections the NRA mobilized their incredible Grass Roots force in the critical Southern States including and especially Tennessee, Mr. Gore's home state. The message was clear to the "Southern Democrat". Vote your political party and your gun ownership rights go to hell, vote for his opponent, and you will have support of the Second Amendment in the White House. Gore lost the South, a lot of guys voted with their heart on this one. Gore even lost his own State, he made history that day. 

So where does this all go? Get organized. You already are! You all have the BASC. Ain't perfect, has warts, might even stink a bit, so what. Your hunting partner hasn't kicked you out of the blind for the same things; he's committed, so is the dog, how come you ain't? Don't look for polished brass, look at a sound structure and start rowing. Figure out what you can do positively to help it. A good thing is give praise and support on its accomplishments, give advice and a plan to correct its shortcomings. You also have local Wildfowl Associations. Start a new one in the next marsh that is lacking. Make it this years goal to get one other person to join your Organization and/ or BASC. Set that a goal, accomplish it, and go buy yourself a pint and then figure out the next goal. Hell, last year I got my wife to join NRA. She's cool. If every couple of members did that we'd have literally millions of new members in that organization alone. 

Get active in letter writing. I just fired one off to the Governor of Maryland, blasting (in a civil manner) his Non Violent Wildlife Task Force. (we're going to pass out condoms to the deer now). I posted the letter on a Maryland waterfowlers forum, also on his Task Force public reply site, and got many other waterfowlers firing off letters too. I posted 4 other sites and now their butts are in gear. Never, would I think I'd get these results.

Another recent victory (temporary) was our fight to reverse the closing of some public blinds on the Potomac River. These are located across the river from MT Vernon, George Washington's home. About 5 miles from Washington D.C. The blinds were used every year for the last 10 years plus. The land is under the Federal National Parks Service. A jogger complained that she was shot at (she was jogging well behind the blinds, not on the water in front, she ain't that Godlike, ha). A kayaker got upset because he/she witnessed the dispatching of a cripple. Oh my. With these two complaints the NPS attempted to close all the blind, and end hunting in the marsh. Just like that, a classic knee jerk response. We all got wind of it and through use of the internet we diffused the phone numbers of the different folks in charge at NPS , had their phones ringing off the hook, got a State Senator to call too. Overnight the decision was cancelled, hunting will be permitted and an open committee will investigate to situation with full disclosure and participation of the public.

None of us are activists, we are midlife crisis, slightly balding, more than slightly "portly", duck hunters who for once got off their asses. It felt good too. Real good. 

Now we are in a battle in the upper New York State, Finger Lake Region. Last season a hunter was hunting legally, in a boat in the vicinity of someone's house. He was well beyond the legal distance. The resident came out shouted for him to leave, he told her that he was well within his rights and was staying put. She came back out and started banging pots (violation #1 interfering with a legal hunter). Then she called the Conservation and pressed charges of hunting before legal time, too close to a dwelling, and anything else she could drum up. The hunter pressed charges of interference which she admitted to in the report as well as feeding the ducks, (illegal too). It went to court and was dismissed. Too bad, she would be facing some good charges well documented. The local judge helped her out. Ms Pot Banger is not seeking a local law that increases the current distance 3 fold which will shut down hunting in her "private" public water. A petition of our own is started and via the internet, is growing incredibly every day. This year the hunter and others will hunt" her" marsh with the aid of video cameras, witnesses, and if they cooperate, a Conservation Officer hiding behind the reeds. Fighting it tooth and nail and most of us are hundreds and thousands of miles away. One more point, we started a legal defence fund for the hunter which paid for most of his legal fees, so he was more prone to fight her and not just belly up. (She's rolling in money and he's a regular guy).

Back to the school/ hunting issue. In many states we have a day (before the season starts usually) which is dedicated to youth. Adults must accompany them but can't shoot. It is usually just before the opener. Kids got to hunt waterfowl, deer turkey, bear, just about every season has a youth day. Many hunters have made it a goal to introduce at least one person a year (child or adult) to hunting by inviting them along.

In my son's school (private parochial school) the Boy Scouts offer a competition shooting and hunting program that is incredible. Couldn't do that in a public school, and now even the Boy Scouts are showing sign of buckling in to the anti gun/ hunter "culture". 

It all starts with one set goal. How about an extra few pounds for the BASC or Waterfowl Association kitty, just for the hell of it. That's easy. One less pint or two, a few less Kit Kat bars, and maybe that 10 or 20 pounds ( or euros, what ever is current) can help start something. And don't forget the power of the net!


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