These Folks Sure Don’t Represent Me

Don’t you absolutely hate it when someone chooses to speak on your behalf and their message is…well, to state it nicely…a bunch of crap.   Seriously, when this person or group spouts off claiming they have your best interests in mind only to later learn they have an underlying (and selfish) reason to be your mouthpiece that is not at all in your best interests.   It makes you upset.

Well, imagine my confusion and surprise yesterday when I read in my local newspaper that the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul (along with many other metro area suburbs) have joined a coalition of mayors from other major cities around the country to form a coalition of mayors against illegal guns.   Sounds like something a bunch of big city, liberal mayors might do.   But that’s not my concern.   Nope.   It was the introduction of a group called the American Hunters and Shooters Association.   Yup, that’s right.   A so-called group of just “ordinary hunters and gun owners” who supposedly agree with “common-sense” gun legislation.   Huh?   You’ve got to be kidding me.   This group touts themselves as an up-start 18–month old organization positioned as an “alternative” to the National Rifle Association.

Something smells fishy here.   The news report was on the radio as well as in the newspaper and the media made things sound like finally a common ground had been reached between the safety interests of big city mayors (trying to curb gun violence) as well as safeguarding the sporting interests of hunters and shooters.

Let me tell you something.   It’s all a ruse…nothing at all what it seems to be.   The American Hunters and Shooters Association is the enemy, in my opinion.   Let me emphasize that again.   By name the American Hunters and Shooters Association might seem like a worthwhile group with a legitimate purpose…but I’m not buying it.   And I don’t think you should buy it either.   Check them out.

Fellow blogger and gun rights advocate John Lott first exposed the group nearly two years ago in a couple of posts that can be read here and here.   What Lott discovered at that time was a poorly concealed attempt to hide the registration details of the organization.   In fact, he notes the web address was originally owned by Robert Ricker.   A quick Google search of Ricker discovers he was a former employee of the NRA who has apparently turned sides since their relationship dissolved.   Not surprisingly, the entire web site and the list of leadership reads like a Who’s Who of gun control advocates…but who takes the time to discover those trivial bits of information?

What you need to take away from this blog post is the American Hunters and Shooters Association is a big bad wolf wearing lambs clothing.   I boldfaced it because understanding this fact is critical.   The gun control faction is getting very sneaky by attempting to look like one of us.   And folks, they’re not just doing it in my part of the country…they’re doing it all over and carrying out their methods in a very deceitful manner by purporting to be the voice of reason for the common sportsman who has come to their senses realizing the NRA has long been “selling us out.”

Hogwash!   This tactic should anger you as a sportsman as much as it does me.   Yet, I sense that too many fellow sportsmen are complacent and simply allow these PR stunts to fly under the radar while not getting properly challenged.   Perhaps what bothers me most is when the gun control message can’t be pushed forward on it’s own merits and yet it needs to have an underhanded mechanism such as this to bolster the public’s misconception of the truth.   Shame on any politician or public official who uses their name associated with such utter deception to accomplish their own self-interests.

Today, I’m here to tell you that the American Hunters and Shooters Association in no way, shape or form represents me as an ordinary American Sportsman, despite what their organizational name might imply.   Furthermore, I would urge everyone to take a closer look and consider exposing this group for the facade it really is by proudly claiming to be one of us sportsmen.

2007 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission

Hypocrisy of PETA Currently On Trial

I hate PETA.   In the past I have made my sentiments about this group perfectly clear…in my opinion this money-hungry group is one of the top enemies not only to the sportsman, but also to ranchers and to medical researchers.   The very nature of the group promoting itself as a non-profit entity looking out for the welfare of those creatures without a voice is pure rubbish.   In fact, maybe it’s time the actions of this group will finally lead to a public condemnation…but it won’t happen unless the sportsman community knows about it and spreads the word better.

PetaboxYou see this tackle box right here.   It is filled with euthanizing drugs that two employees of PETA allegedly used to kill dozens of stray pets.   That’s right.   The organization that purports itself to be the champion of God’s creatures that do not have a voice or rights…well, apparently they killed several of those precious creatures and are now ironically on trial for cruelty (among other charges).   Animal control shelters actually turned stray pets over to the PETA employees thinking the animals would find a home thanks to PETA’s efforts.   They were mistaken.

The pets found a home alright.   How about a final resting place in some dumpster behind a North Carolina grocery store.   The store reported the regular occurrence of the dead animals showing up in the bin, so when the police staked out the scene eventually the killers showed up driving a white PETA-owned van with enough evidence possibly to convict the accused of a felony crime in North Carolina.

The trial is currently underway for the fourth day.   If you are interested in the happenings you can Google “PETA trial” or follow the happenings at where you will see a daily complete rundown of trial happenings.

This could become a major public relations nightmare for PETA, but I fear the general public is not being made aware of this news.   Here is one of the wealthiest groups of its kind on trial for a flawed philosophy that is only good on paper, and not in practice.   It’s not just the actions of these two employees who are on trial…it is the credibility and the public perception of the group they represent that really should take a major hit in the public’s eye.

Pet owners especially should be turned off to the actions of this organization.   Under the guise of doing what’s right to find animals a new home…instead the two employees apparently operated a rolling slaughterhouse from the back of their van.   And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they were so brazen to believe they could get away with dumping the animals in some trash bin behind a store.

No, sportsmen need to sit up and take a keen interest in what is currently happening with this trial.   We need to spread the word about this event so it does not continue to occur under the news radar.   If it was a conservation organization instead on trial for its wildly hypocritic actions the group would soon be dead in the water…as it should be.   But I fear that won’t necessarily be the case with PETA no matter how this trial ends up.

If you surf to PETA’s website don’t expect to read anything newsworthy about the ongoing trial.   Not a word neither supporting or denouncing the actions of its employees.   You see…PETA just doesn’t seem to operate that way.   This group doesn’t care to be burdened by recognizing the realm of reality.   And as the trial heats up in the days to come…what’s at stake here is not two rogue employees so condemned by the organization’s leadership.   Nope, it’s about an organization that time and facts will likely prove can’t even live up to its own principles or name.

© 2007 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Allowed Without Prior Permission.

A Defining Moment Awaits Ducks And Duck Hunting

This morning at 9:00am duck season opened here in Minnesota.   Back 20 years ago you would have found me either jump-shooting ducks along some small river, or perhaps readying the decoys on some lake for the then noon-time opener.   During that time in my life duck hunting was an important fall ritual.   As the leaves on the landscape started their explosion of colors, duck hunting signaled to me that indeed the fall hunting seasons had truly arrived in earnest.

I’m sad to say things just don’t happen that way any longer.   Perhaps my interest in duck hunting has waned a bit…more likely the explanation is my free-time has undergone a rearrangement of priorities.   Whatever the case, the truth is I just don’t feel as passionate about hunting ducks as I did back in my youth.

Even so, for the past 30 years I have religiously purchased my state and federal duck stamps even though I didn’t always need them for licensing purposes.   I always felt it was a good and proper thing to support waterfowl and wetlands conservation by making this small donation.   I also have spent thousands of dollars on attending Ducks Unlimited banquets over the years…both on the meals and all the fun activities that take place at those events.   In business, I have worked on fundraising efforts that over the past 15 years totals nearly a quarter of a million dollars donated to DU.   Suffice it to say, even though my interest in duck hunting may have peaked several years ago…my commitment toward doing my part to financially support the conservation efforts has not wavered over this same time.

In Minnesota duck numbers have been on the decline for quite some time.   There’s various explanations for why this is likely occurring, but nevertheless it is frustrating.   Estimates show that over the years nearly $600 million has been generated and spent in Canada to improve and preserve our vital wetland habitats.      Some have suggested this money has not been well invested…and they may have a strong argument.   This is critical because here in my state well over 70 percent of the ducks shot cross the border from Canada.   No doubt about it what happens in Canada has a direct impact on how many of us enjoy the sport of duck hunting—no matter where you might live.

Many of us can sense that we are closing in on a defining moment in waterfowl conservation.   Money doesn’t seem to be an issue…for well over 60 years waterfowl conservation has been one of the most well funded wildlife programs in history.   Name another species of game that has received as much attention and resources for developing conservation measures than waterfowl?   Truth is…there just isn’t any.   And despite the successful, and albeit very necessary money-raising efforts, what have we got to show for our investment?   A declining resource, at least in many areas, that is leaving hunters/conservationists frustrated because of the diminishing population trends for many duck species.

I’m not here to suggest I know the answer.   Quite honestly, this problem is so multi-faceted I’m not even convinced that all the experts really have a solid grasp on what needs to be done to change the course.   Obviously throwing money at the problem is not a solution in itself.   Yet, of course, money is vitally needed and will continue to be needed long into the future.

When you buy licenses, belong to conservation organizations and attend fundraising functions you expect to see results.   Certainly not to pick on DU as they are one of the truly great conservation organizations of our time. Yet, when you leave a DU banquet having spent more than you ordinarily would spend on a night out…this feeling is easily mitigated when you reason you “did it for the ducks.”   I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this mantra repeated over the years.

The problem is, for most of us sportsmen we view conservation spending akin to investing money in a bank.   For example, if we shell out $200 and “do it for the ducks” we expect to eventually see positive results with our money.   Instead, the general consensus among many waterfowlers has been we are seeing substantially depreciated returns on our money.   Perhaps it’s time we take a critical look at waterfowl conservation spending—both in Canada and domestically—to readjust our conservation portfolio.   Most sportsmen equate ducks as the great dividends we receive from our conservation investments…and when the dividends start to dry up then perhaps it is time to better scrutinize how that money is being spent.

The bottom line is I want to see more ducks flying in the skies.   I’m not naive to say this alone would get me back into the marsh or puddle-jumping for ducks.   Truth is over the years I have gravitated toward interests other than waterfowling…and that’s perfectly okay.   Still, that doesn’t mean my interest in seeing a thriving, healthy waterfowl resource is any less than it ever has been.   I’ll continue spending my hard-earned dollars on ducks…but the folks entrusted with spending that money better start doing a better job with the fiduciary responsibility they’ve been given to show more positive results.

Many of the hard-core waterfowlers I’ve known are beginning to lose hope that we’ll ever see “the good ol’ days” of waterfowling once again.   What a shame.   Along with that fleeting hope may soon come diminishing dollars for wetlands conservation.   Certainly the problem of ducks is more than just money…but to accomplish just about anything these days requires adequate funding, so there’s no denying the importance of seeing funding resources continue.   It’s time, however, for the decision makers to realize that the patrons are expecting to see some positive returns on their shares.   To improve our current situation, perhaps some attitudes and philosophies need to be adjusted before it’s too late…and my hunch is it needs to happen soon!

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.