When is enough enough?
When is it enough to call the hands of the antics of anti-hunting, anti-fishing, anti-everything but picking flowers from a meadow for our country’s outdoors sportsmen, sportswomen and sportschildren.
Maybe now. Yes, now.
After years tolerating the sometimes underhanded methods these anti-groups have used to keep us from field, forests, swamps and marshes — and our waters — this latest move by the White House and President Joe Biden cannot be ignored or passed off as another hide-the-ban-in-the-wording tactic to control what is a wholesome activity in our schools.
Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
The latest move? The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
It’s not so much this law, but the way Biden and his administration has interpreted the act that has drawn the ire of all 50 states’ wildlife and fisheries agencies and national/regional sportsmen’s organizations.
To be brief, the act’s intent apparently was another gun-control law focusing on safety in our schools.
Then, the U.S. Department of Education, under the leadership of secretary Miquel Cardona, used this bi-partisan act to deny federal funding to schools with hunter safety/education and archery-in-the-schools programs. It affected the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
This Cardona’s crew appeared to write between the act’s lines to interject what can only be called an extension of this political party’s anti-hunting platform targeting physical education curricula.
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) brokered the act for the Republican side in Congress’ reaction to the tragedies in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.
Reportedly, these two men fired off responses to Cardona citing he and his agency misinterpreted the act’s language and intent. Nothing had happened in the more than two months since these two men made known the injustice they announced to the Department of Education’s move.
Since then, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Sportsmen’s Alliance and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms have denounced the move, among others.
At it’s September meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted to send a resolution to the Biden Administration to rescind the move to withhold funds.
At stake is the extraordinarily successful Archery in Louisiana Schools. This program’s center in north Louisiana, and schools like Benton High and Middle, among others, have won national competitions for what can only be considered as a wholesome activity.
As far as can be determined, hunter safety education is held in our Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the decades of success from the 10-12 hunter-safety hours shows up in decrease in the number of hunting-related accidents of years ago.
This discussion harkens back to a conversation with a woman who called the outdoors desk years ago.
The woman from our state’s largest metropolitan area objected to a photo run showing a young man who’s face had been smeared with the blood from the first buck he’d taken on a hunt with his grandfather.
The tone was something on the order of “How can you publish something like this with all the gun violence in our country. You’re fostering the use of guns. I talked with a friend of mine and she didn’t like it either.”
Right of passage
It was time to step away from being an outdoors writer to educate.
See, the majority of the folks who saw that photo and read the story knew the blood on a young hunter’s face is a sign of the right of passage.
A youngster of 11, 12, 13 or maybe 14 in a deer stand with their grandfather, learning stand and hunter safety, patience, stealth, the value of time spent in the outdoors and the all-important reverence of the animal they’re hunting are part, or should be, in a hunter’s approach to these seasons.
This grandfather knew that and imparted them to his grandchild. Yes, I knew he had. He was that kind of a man and a hunter.
The blood on his grandchild’s face was, in part, the passing of the torch to another generation, who, hopefully, would pass those honorable attributes down the line.
To the dutiful grandchild, that day will be etched in his memory right along with a first date, a first kiss, graduation day, a wedding and birth of his children, if he or she so chooses.
The woman listened, then said she understood a bit more about the ritual, but it was disturbing to having the rifle in the photo.
Explanation continued: “In all the mass shootings and reports of gun violence, has the one using the firearm ever been identified as a hunter?”
This gave her pause: “No. Maybe, not that I can remember.”
That’s why the reaction from the National Wildlife Federation’s president Collin O’Mara touches home reacting to the unilateral Department of Education move.
“For decades, hunter education programs in schools have taught students about wildlife management, firearm and archery safety, wilderness survival skills, and conservation. Perhaps most importantly, these programs instill in children a deep respect and appreciation for wildlife and the great outdoors,” O’Mara said, calling on Congress to “…move quickly to pass a bipartisan, durable solution so these important enrichment programs can continue to receive funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”
We must call their hand. And stop their antics.