Crossbow Hunting

One issue happening, probably below the radar for most gun blogs, is the controversy going on right now in Pennsylvania over crossbow hunting.  Many bow hunters are angry at NRA for their support of crossbow hunting in Pennsylvania, which was recently approved by the Game Commission over the objections of United Bow Hunters of Pennsylvania.

I question whether this was an issue NRA should have been involved in, but I think more from a “is it worth the trouble” perspective, rather than because I agree with the bow hunters.   Hunting is in decline.  By many measures, this decline is serious, and is only going to get worse as more hunters die off, or get too old to go afield.  Opportunities for hunting are dwindling.  Anything that opens up more opportunities to get more people into the sport is ultimately beneficial to both the hunting and shooting communities.

The Humane Society of the United States will relentlessly dog hunters until they ban hunting in this country, one species at a time.  They’ve already had success ending dove hunting in Michigan, and we all know about the bear hunts in New Jersey.  They were also instrumental in the California lead ammunition ban, and are supporting a nationwide ban on lead ammunition.  These people are good at what they do, and they are organized and well funded.  In a lot of ways, they make the Brady Campaign look like pikers in comparison.

If hunters want to commit slow motion political suicide by supporting policies that restrict access to their sport, and ultimately reduce their numbers, and their political power right along with it, I’m not sure NRA really ought to stop them.  Perhaps it’s not worth the grief.  But both hunters and shooters will suffer if hunting disappears in North America.  Hunters should get behind anything that expands opportunties for hunting.  Bow hunters are being dangerously short sighted on the crossbow issue.

Bowhunters Looking for Sunday Hunting

Looks like United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania are taking a stab at getting the ban on hunting on Sundays in Pennsylvania repealed, at least for them.  Even though I think Sunday hunting should be allowed, in general, I would support this more limited measure, if it can be passed.  Might be a good thing for NRA to hop on board with, to smooth over frayed relations with the bowhunting community over the crossbow issue.

Media Priorities

It’s interesting to note that the only article that the Chicago Sun Times manages to publish on the Leland Yee indictment is really more about Shrimp Boy and the the Chinese underworld in San Francisco than about Leland Yee, but an NRA lobbyist gets a ticket for not having his crossbow cased while hunting on private land? Scandal city!

The Gun Room in City Hall

A look, by a reporter who feels the need to explain his qualifications:

I am not exactly a gun virgin – I have been to a shooting range, and I have a brother who hunts. I’ve never gone hunting with him, though I’ve politely inspected his three guns and his crossbow. That’s about it for my exposure to actual guns. I am well-versed, however, in the concept of guns. I’ve written for years about the corrosive, violent gun crime that plagues the city.

The concept of guns – the arguments, the fretting, the hand-wringing over the havoc they cause, the arguments over the Second Amendment – has nothing to do with confronting real guns, especially in the Gun Room.

You’ve been to a shooting range once? This my friend, means you have no business or knowledge to be opining on this topic, and should stop right here, any more than I have knowledge to have an informed opinion on proper veterinary care because I once dissected a frog in biology class in high school. The author goes on to call us uncaring liars, who don’t give a damn about gun violence. If you have a subscription to the Daily News, cancel is now. Starve the beast!

The First Amendment Wins!

I have a slightly more detailed post up over at PAGunRights about today’s important win at the Supreme Court. It was a First Amendment fight that could have spelled the end for all outdoor magazines and any commercial sharing of hunting images across state lines.

There is so much to say about this case, and it calls for far more attention than I can give it right now. This a law that even Bill Clinton knew was unconstitutional when he signed it back in 1999. He added an order for the Justice Department to limit how it was enforced, but in their first ever prosecution, they strayed from that order. And because of that very stupid move, they set up a case that showed the law was overly broad and chilled free speech.

The odd bit here is that no one in the hunting community really noticed this law when it passed. Technically, publishing Pennsylvania bear hunting photos in an outdoor magazine that could be sold in New Jersey was a federal felony for a decade. But because no one was prosecuted, no one paid attention. The case that was brought against a person didn’t have to do with hunting, but dog fighting. Using video from an event that was legal in the location it was filmed, the defendant created a so-called “documentary” about dog fighting and sold it. It was not a recording of criminal activity, but perfectly lawful (in its location) activity. The feds declared that the mere depiction was a crime, which is why the outdoor media community would have been decimated if this law stood. Field & Stream would be contraband in DC because the District allows no hunting. Better hope that online forum with ads where you posted that picture of the deer killed with a crossbow doesn’t get read by someone where use of crossbows are illegal. It was that bad.

HSUS Poaching Bill Stalled in Pennsylvania House

Remember that bill Wayne Pacelle was complaining NRA was opposing?  Well, it stalled in the house and is headed back to committee.  I think that’s a good outcome, because there are things in the bill that I don’t think we ought to have any trouble with, but some things really need to change.  I’m rather mystified that the following groups are joining forces with HSUS on this:

The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs was joined in support of the bill by the Quality Deer Management Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Ruffed Grouse, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, Pennsylvania Crossbow Association and the Pennsylvania Deer Association.

Support also came from P.E.T.A. and the Humane Society, both anti-hunting groups.

Considerable fuss was made when the National Rifle Association questioned the bill, even though the NRA supported the concept. It became almost a frenzy as people and groups joined in condemning the N.R.A. over their mere concern.

There’s just no way that poaching should be in the same league as robbing a bank.  Sorry, no.  It’s a misdemeanor at most.  The District Attorney’s association and the gun rights groups in this state were right to raise concerns.  If Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, which I am a member of, is going to keep joining forces with Wayne Pacelle and PETA, I will not renew my membership with them and will cease supporting the organization.  I fear they are already suffering for Melody Zullinger’s absence.

Just Where Will It Stop?

A hunting blogger recently opened debate about supposed “high-fenced hunting” and preserve hunting. He has since added to it and I haven’t fully caught up. However, based on the opening of the post, I had to say something. My comments focus on the hunting community given the context. But, I think it easily translates into discussions we have about the shooting sports and gun ownership in general. So, without further delay, here it is:

If we, the hunting population start to define what hunting is, where will it stop?

In the spirit of Fark, THIS!

This right here, in my opinion is the biggest threat to hunting. Yes, there are huge legal and cultural threats, too. But, ultimately, when I see the community dividing over really stupid issues (the most divisive and common I see is related to access), that’s where I see the downfall of hunting.

Yes, I recognize that my use of the term “stupid issues” isn’t making the conversation any easier. I realize there are valuable opinions on many sides of any given issue. On the other hand, I want to grab many I have had to deal with by the shoulders and shake them violently while screaming, “Do you want your sport to die, you freakin’ idiot?” But, if it helps, I think the same thing about many sport shooters I encounter, too. :)

In PA, the latest debate was over expanding crossbow use. I kid you not, I met several guys who were more outraged over that decision than they would have been if the had cut all hunting seasons in half. Sebastian was talking to one outdoor writer here who was just laughing about the entire thing. He pointed out that these very same people and groups screamed as loudly about compound bows years ago – and now they would scream bloody murder if you tried to restrict compound bows. Meanwhile, as non-hunters who care about the issue, Sebastian & I are wondering why, if it has the possibility of opening up hunting to a slightly broader audience, bow hunters are seeking to shut it down.

Hunters have got to start getting on the same page if they hope to keep the sport alive for their kids and grandkids. That doesn’t mean that every hunter has to agree on every issue. It means that the first question asked should be whether the subject at hand (property access, apprentice hunting, license changes, rifle/bow/whathever use, preserves, etc.) has an opportunity to open up the sport to new or no longer active participants. If the answer is yes (and it will be most of the time), then the discussion should really just be a matter of weighing the costs and benefits. I think even changing how those issues are debated will get more hunters closer to the same page.

Sorry for such a long comment that doesn’t directly address the issue at hand. But, I think the point you made is particularly relevant to many of the debates in the community.

Before any shooters jump on the bandwagon with the idea that we’re superior to hunting in that we don’t have these same divides, that’s simply not true.  In fact, the perceived divide between shooting and hunting interests is a key example.  I say perceived because I meet very few hunters who are willing or ready to throw shooters under the bus.  But, I talk to an awful lot of shooters who make the accusation about hunters and therefore justify throwing hunting issues under the bus in the name of revenge.  No movement is perfect, and we have divisions within the shooting community, just like they have divisions in the hunting community.  It’s time to find ways to reshape some of our conversations about internal issues.

Haven’t We Angered Bowhunters Enough?

I’m glad to see NRA backing away from a proposal to open up a firearms season in bow hunting counties in West Virginia.  The crossbow issue seems to antagonize bow hunters in Pennsylvania enough as it is.  Let’s not get people pissed at NRA next door too.  Also, can we not insult the bow hunters as we’re trying to calm their fears?

When the NRA sent out its postcard poll, Austin said, the West Virginia Bowhunters Association “flipped and thought we were going to try to run a bill.”

“That just shows they have no knowledge of the process and how it works,” he said.

“We were just in it to see if there was an interest. And there is no interest. We have no desire (to seek changes). We’re a membership-driven organization.

Emphasis mine.  Even if it’s true, you don’t say it to the media.  I sincerely hope that was a misquote on the part of the paper.  It’s important to tread carefully on issues like this.  They have the potential to divide our community at a very critical time for us politically.

Self-Defense advise…

against the undead. From the Federal Vampire Zombie Agency:

Shotguns are somewhat less effective against zombies because of the zombie’s primitive mental capacity and enormous pain tolerance. As with any zombie weapon, you should use the shotgun only to buy enough time for escape.

Or if a rifle is more your style:

Vampires: FVZA sharpshooters used rifles with night vision scopes to pick off vampires as they emerged from their shelter for a night of hunting. But for home defense against bloodsuckers, the rifle is not very practical.

Zombies: When the zombies are coming, a rifle from a fortified, elevated position is just about the best weapon there is. There’s no danger of catching zombie fluids and viscera in the eyes, nose and mouth, and no danger of a zombie grabbing the barrel of the rifle. Picking off zombies from a safe spot can even be, dare I say, more than a little fun.

There are a few things that are surprising, like the fact that crossbows are not particularly effective against vampires, and that the flamethrower has a long and distinguished history in undead combat.