I’m never really far from my desk, or at least a computer, yet I do get to spend a healthy amount of time outdoors. But when it’s production time, that same desk becomes an anchor bound to my leg. So after a great fall and early winter of making new hunting memories, I’ve once again donned my leg iron.
Now that I’m back and in a reflective mode, I find myself still bothered by January’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by extremists, because of its wider implications. By the way, I’m not alone on this. Waterfowl chat rooms on the Internet were buzzing throughout the occupation, and why not? The more than a month-long standoff eliminated the last 23 days of the waterfowl season on ground paid for and maintained at least in part by Duck Stamp monies.
Funny that we didn’t hear any condemnation during this period from those organizations that purport to represent waterfowl hunters and seek our dollars. Not so with the group Back Country Hunters And Anglers (BHA), which strongly criticized the assault on our public lands throughout the conflict.
When the scofflaws were finally arrested, BHA stated, “Now is the time to turn our attention to the Bundys’ allies: the politicians, backroom funders and other radicals who would divest citizens of our public lands heritage and take what is rightfully ours. Sportsmen must take a strong stand on behalf of our American birthright.”
I’ve led a pretty lucky life. I’ve hunted in 26 states and on a whole lot of public land. Public land IS our birthright. It’s what separates our hunting traditions from the old European traditions in which land, game animals and hunting belonged to only those wealthy enough to afford it. Granted, it’s not a perfect world for me or you. There are a whole lot of places I can’t hunt because they are beyond my economic sphere, and I’ve been on public land where I wasn’t any happier to see another hunter than that hunter was to see me, but nobody could deny his, or my, right to be there.
BHA is spot-on when it says “Rightfully ours.”