One thing I’ve learned during my recent research into the shooting community is that they have their act together. Bird hunting groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever possess broad, active membership bases and healthy streams of revenue. The more prominent birding organizations can boast similar strengths, but seem to fall behind in one critical area: POWER. Hunting and fishing groups, affectionately called the “hook and bullet” set, wield real political power.
A perfect example of shooter influence was reported in early January by The Los Angeles Times. The article, with the headline Bush Makes Time for ‘Hook and Bullet’ Set, describes a meeting that took place at the White House between the President and the NRA, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Wildlife Management Institute, and similar groups.
Top on the visitors’ list of concerns at the session in December was a plan by some administration officials to rewrite the 1972 Clean Water Act in a way that could damage millions of acres of wetlands and countless miles of streams — prime habitat for the wildlife that these groups hunt and fish.
Without specifying his position on the issue, Bush assured those in the room that he understood the value of wetlands and would not let his administration do anything that would spoil them, participants in the meeting said.
Just four days later, Bush killed the plan to rewrite the Clean Water Act.
The article goes on to explore why traditional environmental groups lack the political access and clout enjoyed by hunters and anglers. Obviously, each side has a different perspective on wildlife “appreciation” and land use. These issues demand serious deliberation and debate. But my concern right now is more practical than philosophical. By some counts, birders outnumber hunters and anglers. The birding community shares the same commitment to environmental protection as any of these conservation groups.Â Shouldn’t we get a seat at the table? “Hook, bullet, and scope” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?