6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

A Sportsman on the Ballot


A few weeks ago I covered a conference in Charleston celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.   A top official from the US Fish and Wildlife Service expressed some reservations at the time about the future of hunting and fishing and the act itself when looking at the nation’s political landscape.  This guy worried about so many in Congress who join the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus and tout their credentials as supportive of hunting and fishing during the election to mine for votes…but rarely transfer that to action in Washington.  

“Given the current climate, it may be time to put their ‘support’ to the test,” He told me, "This is the first presidential election we haven’t had a sportsman on the ticket." 

That changed with the addition of Paul Ryan as a running mate to presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.   Barrack Obama and Joe Biden have no ties to the outdoors.  They make no claims to the contrary.  Romney made a very weak case that he was a hunter during the last election.  His remarks did nothing but erode his credibility with sportsmen.

“I’m not a big game hunter,” Romney said in 2007. “I’ve made it very clear: I’ve always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter. All right? Small varmints, if you will.”


It turns out Romney hadn’t purchased a hunting license in any of the states where he owned homes.    He’s wisely steered clear of the discussion ever since and has had to tip toe around his sketchy background on gun control matters when speaking to the NRA. 

However, Ryan’s arrival to the campaign insures sportsmen and women have a legitimate advocate on the ballot.  Ryan grew up hunting in the deer rich rural Wisconsin.  He is an avid bow hunter and pictures circulating across the Internet suggest an accomplished one as well.  He formerly co-chaired the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus–the leading bi-partisan caucus on Capitol Hill.

"As a hunter, Rep. Ryan understands and appreciates the issues hunters and sportsmen care about," wrote the National Shooting Sports Foundation in a recent op-ed. "Such as the current effort to ban the on-line and mail order sale of ammunition and President Obama’s support for banning modern sporting rifles (MSRs) that are used for target shooting and increasingly by hunters – just to name two."

During the last election, Sarah Palin became the poster child for hunting declaring her friends held a baby shower for her at gun range, that she and her husband honeymooned on a hunting trip, and touted a background of hunting with her father to put food on the table in the wilds of Alaska.

Ryan, by all accounts, is more than a man who enjoys hunting. He has apparently adopted the activity as a form of subsistence.   He’s a stickler for eating organic.  It doesn’t get more organic than wild game.

“He’s an addicted bow hunter. He loves the mystical flight of the arrow,” rocker and bow hunter Ted Nugent said in a recent Newsmax interview.  “Paul and I could go to the grocery store if we wanted to, but we have chosen this original, primal pursuit of game with a self-limiting weapon. And that says volumes for what drives this man to do the right thing in spite of political correctness.”

Sportsmen and women are passionate about their activities and are motivated voters.  Will that help Romney’s chances in November?  Time will tell but given the status in that department a week ago it sure can’t hurt.  The one thing for certain is sportsmen now have a candidate on the ballot who expresses like minded views and a kindred spirit of the outdoors along with a healthy appreciation for the Second Amendment.

"Many politicians pay lip service to ‘not wanting to infringe on the rights of hunters’ often followed by a pronouncement or proposal that would do just that. With Paul Ryan, hunters and all law-abiding gun owners should be reassured that there is someone in Washington with demonstrated level-headedness on issues of great interest to them.  When it comes to these recurring issues, there is no substitute for the knowledge and wisdom born of the personal experience and passion of a true hunter." — National Shooting Sports Foundation



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