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He's a Hunter, but Paul Ryan’s Budget Deserves Scrutiny

August 20, 2012
He's a Hunter, but Paul Ryan’s Budget Deserves Scrutiny - 9

It’s an election year, for better or worse. It’s that weird time when we get to see who in the political world wants to pander to hunters and anglers. We’ve seen the photos of Eastern dudes who just walked out of a L.L. Bean catalog and have clearly never had their hands in a gut pile. We’ve been subjugated to a litany of inane comments about moose (or was it elk?) hunting. Both parties do it. It’s standard operating procedure. Grab a staffer’s father’s shotgun, and take a walk in the woods with cameras for company. For most politicians, it’s a seasonal stunt.

But something different happened with the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Ryan’s an avid bowhunter and fisherman. He’s the kind of guy you would enjoy sitting beside in a duck blind. He’s articulate, young, passionate, and active. He’s been a champion of gun rights, a past chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and is beloved in the archery industry for his bill to cap excise taxes on individual arrow shafts. To be sure, he looks the part. He looks like one of us.

Ryan says that he hunts on his farm, over food plots and from a stand. That’s great, and I certainly have spent a lot of fall evenings waiting for the whitetail to come in and feed. It’s no backcountry camp during the elk rut on public land, but I get the feeling Ryan would be at home on a high ridge in the West as he is in a Midwestern woodlot.

But Ryan’s record on public lands and access leaves much to be desired.

If you hunt or fish on public lands, volunteer for your local conservation group, or simply value the resource that Theodore Roosevelt left for all of us, that should concern you. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget resolution called for the selling off of public lands. Lots of it. That hurts blue-collar hunters like you and me. Without public lands, there’s a hell of a lot less public hunting.

His proposal would starve our public-land agencies of funding until they sell off land just to stay afloat. That is shortsighted politics when it comes to wildlife management and hunter opportunity. Can you imagine what would happen if the Kaibab was auctioned off? What about the Roan Plateau in Colorado, or my slice of heaven here in Montana, the Rocky Mountain Front? Why would we sell off these assets, when we know that they are generators of income for many small businesses and families?

A good friend of mine in the firearms industry speaks of public lands much like he speaks of his flagship line of guns. “Protect your core competency,“ he says. Public Lands are the core competency of the hunting industry. If they want to continue to sell large numbers of guns, bows, clothing, and gear, you need to have a lot of hunters. In order to have a lot of hunters, you need to have a lot of places for hunters to go hunt. Eliminate the public lands, and you eliminate the hunter.  Restrict that access and you restrict a growing industry. It’s awfully simple.

Accessible public lands are the great equalizer when it comes to ensuring our rights to hunt and fish. Without those public lands, the average American doesn’t have access to the critters that we hold in trust. We don’t have the opportunities afforded to those better-heeled hunters with their own private paradise. These lands are more than numbers on a spreadsheet, to be added and subtracted like commodities and political trading cards. These lands are our birthright, and they provide for our families.

Congressman Ryan, if you get to Montana, give me a call. There are still some over the counter Deer/Elk Combo tags. Pick one up and I’d be happy to show you a little roadless area I know where the elk like to live. Perhaps then you’ll see firsthand why so many of us are passionate about our public lands and our public wildlife.

Comments (9)

Top Rated
All Comments
from wgiles wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

While I have concerns about public lands and hunting access, we have to choose between Romney/Ryan or Obama/Biden. We don't get any other choice. We could just not vote, but that really doesn't help. Neither ticket is my choice, but the choice for me is clear.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

What have Jon Hartz Sr and Haroldeb been smoking? Public land is a gift to hunters, from the last hunter in the White House who really had vision: Theodore Roosevelt. Sell public lands? No thanks. We should watchdog the government like rabid pitbulls to maintain our right to hunt and fish there, because it is where the future of hunting and fishing resides in the US. Mr. Ryan is fortunate enough to own a place in his home state to hunt and wealthy enough not to flinch at the highest lease fees. More power to him. But shame on him and anyone who fails to see the value of our public lands for the vast majority who are not so lucky.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCalHal wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Sounds like another case of "we have to make cuts but not where it affects me".

There is an awful lot of public land that could be sold and SHOULD be sold. You Easterners don't realize it but out West, especially Nevada and Alaska the Federal Government owns 60-75% of the land!

In the East the numbers are more like 10-20%. We just need to make sure that when Federal lands are sold public access is retained. This is not an unusual requirement and in fact much of my Deer, Elk, Pig and Turkey hunting are done on private lands owned by lumber companies that permit public access.

Federally owned lands do not generate taxes or any income other than timber rights and those are usually sold too cheap. Better to sell the lands to private individuals or corporations as long as the above conditions are met.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jh45gun wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Only folks I see badmouthing Ryan are liberals and demoncrats.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from AndersonIN wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Sorry Orange Grove but the ONLY reason Obama signed the bill was it was tagged on to another bill that he wanted signed.

Obama is from IL and will grab you guns ANY CHANCE HE HAS!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jon A Hartz Sr. wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

"Public land" means government land. We sell out and allow government to rule how and where and when we hunt. Also,do you want to elect known gun-grabbers? These are not rocket science concepts.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from LGIW wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

And what, are you proposing that sportsmen should support OBAMA?????

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

This is too bad. He's probably very wealthy and the thought of lands opening up to purchase for him and his wealthy buddies is probably a motivating factor.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Orange Grove wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Very good piece.
Nothing irritates me more than hunters (and just about everyone else in this country) blindly throwing their weight behind a politician based on party only.
“He’s a Republican so he’ll stand up for gun rights” or “He’s a Democrat and they just want to end hunting.”
What a joke. Both parties have their faults. Educate yourself. Get the facts.
I don’t care for Obama as a president but you know what? He signed into law that concealed firearms can be carried in National Parks. Ronald Regan tried to do get that through and failed.
Vice President Cheney was an avid gun owner and hunter…then he shot a guy in the face after having a beer an hour earlier. Boy, that did a lot for hunters.
George Bush shot an endangered songbird while dove hunting in Texas when he was governor.
President Carter promoted quail habitat (good) then tells the world he was charged by a rabbit while fishing (bad).
Both parties have and will continue to benefit hunters. Unfortunately both parties will also do things that harm hunting and hunters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from AndersonIN wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Sorry Orange Grove but the ONLY reason Obama signed the bill was it was tagged on to another bill that he wanted signed.

Obama is from IL and will grab you guns ANY CHANCE HE HAS!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Orange Grove wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Very good piece.
Nothing irritates me more than hunters (and just about everyone else in this country) blindly throwing their weight behind a politician based on party only.
“He’s a Republican so he’ll stand up for gun rights” or “He’s a Democrat and they just want to end hunting.”
What a joke. Both parties have their faults. Educate yourself. Get the facts.
I don’t care for Obama as a president but you know what? He signed into law that concealed firearms can be carried in National Parks. Ronald Regan tried to do get that through and failed.
Vice President Cheney was an avid gun owner and hunter…then he shot a guy in the face after having a beer an hour earlier. Boy, that did a lot for hunters.
George Bush shot an endangered songbird while dove hunting in Texas when he was governor.
President Carter promoted quail habitat (good) then tells the world he was charged by a rabbit while fishing (bad).
Both parties have and will continue to benefit hunters. Unfortunately both parties will also do things that harm hunting and hunters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from LGIW wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

And what, are you proposing that sportsmen should support OBAMA?????

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jh45gun wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Only folks I see badmouthing Ryan are liberals and demoncrats.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCalHal wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Sounds like another case of "we have to make cuts but not where it affects me".

There is an awful lot of public land that could be sold and SHOULD be sold. You Easterners don't realize it but out West, especially Nevada and Alaska the Federal Government owns 60-75% of the land!

In the East the numbers are more like 10-20%. We just need to make sure that when Federal lands are sold public access is retained. This is not an unusual requirement and in fact much of my Deer, Elk, Pig and Turkey hunting are done on private lands owned by lumber companies that permit public access.

Federally owned lands do not generate taxes or any income other than timber rights and those are usually sold too cheap. Better to sell the lands to private individuals or corporations as long as the above conditions are met.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

What have Jon Hartz Sr and Haroldeb been smoking? Public land is a gift to hunters, from the last hunter in the White House who really had vision: Theodore Roosevelt. Sell public lands? No thanks. We should watchdog the government like rabid pitbulls to maintain our right to hunt and fish there, because it is where the future of hunting and fishing resides in the US. Mr. Ryan is fortunate enough to own a place in his home state to hunt and wealthy enough not to flinch at the highest lease fees. More power to him. But shame on him and anyone who fails to see the value of our public lands for the vast majority who are not so lucky.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgiles wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

While I have concerns about public lands and hunting access, we have to choose between Romney/Ryan or Obama/Biden. We don't get any other choice. We could just not vote, but that really doesn't help. Neither ticket is my choice, but the choice for me is clear.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jon A Hartz Sr. wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

"Public land" means government land. We sell out and allow government to rule how and where and when we hunt. Also,do you want to elect known gun-grabbers? These are not rocket science concepts.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

This is too bad. He's probably very wealthy and the thought of lands opening up to purchase for him and his wealthy buddies is probably a motivating factor.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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