Taking Pride in Our Passion: The Importance of Showing Support for Sportsmen and Women

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • While state agencies and conservation NGOs invest heavily in hunting and angling recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts, sportsmen and women themselves can play a critical role in promoting our time-honored outdoor traditions.
  • Recognizing the role of sportsmen and women as the original conservationists, it is clear that there is much for us to celebrate.
  • By highlighting our support for the activities that we hold so dear, along with the accomplishments achieved because of these activities, sportsmen and women are well-positioned to defend against threats to our time-honored traditions.

Why it matters: As the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) continues to work hard in support of our mission to “work with Congress, Governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping,” we continue to recognize the importance of engaging not only with elected officials, but with members of the sporting community that we work to support. Engagement from the community, whether in-person, online, or as a member of one of the many important organizations that exist, is critical to our ability to continue to support the activities that each of us hold dear.

On April 25th, members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Kansas sportsmen’s community gathered for a Camo Day at the Capitol. The day’s activities marked one of several such celebrations held by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and other sporting-conservation NGO’s around the country in 2022. These events are designed as an opportunity for the sportsmen’s community to band together and highlight our support for the activities that each of us hold dear, but, as I have been asked in the past, why do we need to celebrate these activities?

To answer this, you first need to look at the history of sportsmen and women, or as we like to refer to them, the original conservationists. Ours is a story in which every hunter, angler, target shooter, and trapper should take considerable pride. If not for the vision of the sportsmen’s community, many of these activities that we each enjoy today may not have been possible. Be it through supporting the development of the first state fish and wildlife management agencies to creating the American System of Conservation Funding, in which our community directly supports these agencies, it is clear that sportsmen are consistently among the first to step up in support of conservation.

Despite these ongoing contributions, there are some who continue to conjure negative images about our pastimes, including false attacks that liken hunters to poachers, in an effort to undermine our rights. Recognizing this, it is important for all sportsmen and women to be informed, get engaged, and step up as an ambassador for our time-honored traditions. In doing so, we can reclaim the narrative and continue to promote our role as the original conservationists.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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