Sportsmen need to stay informed

Bill HiltsIt was a Saturday night, a few days before Christmas, and my phone rang. It was the copy person at the Niagara Gazette reviewing my column for the next day. The column focused on the fact that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had just vetoed the proposed legislation that would have extended the use of crossbows for another two years – under the current regulations – and also changed the youth hunt to archery only for big game. Even though I had explained it in the column fully, he still didn’t seem to understand that the veto of the bill was a good thing.

“You wanted the bill to be vetoed by the governor?” he asked.

“Absolutely! I even sent a letter myself,” I explained.

“For starters, the current crossbow legislation was something we didn’t want. At the last minute, a change to the original bill changed how a crossbow could be used in the state and we ended up with something that was essentially meaningless in the eyes of crossbow proponents. We could only use them during the regular firearms season and the late muzzleloader season.”

“In addition, the sponsors of the bill tried to do the same thing with this one as they did with the original crossbow bill – slip in special amendments – and this time it would have all but eliminated a youth hunt during the archery season. It would have required an archery-only stipulation for any youth big game hunt during the early archery season.”

It wasn’t the first time that I’ve had to explain this, many times to sportsmen. When they heard that the crossbow bill was coming up for renewal, they automatically wanted to support it and asked what they could do to help. After an explanation, they called or wrote their opposition to the governor. In the end, it worked … this time.

The problem is keeping sportsmen informed on the issues. The week before, in the same Niagara Falls and area papers, I explained the importance of subscribing to publications like New York Outdoor News or joining organizations like local sportsmen’s clubs and the New York State Conservation Council. There are so many issues out that that could affect our natural resources or our hunting and fishing heritage, we need to keep current and help to keep others informed.

As we close out another year and get ready to kick off 2013, we need to keep informed and educated. From gun issues and Second Amendment rights to Great Lakes concerns that could result on more exotic invaders and serious low water issues; from hunting and fishing issues to natural resource concerns when Mother Nature turns nasty. Whatever the case, it’s up to us to follow the news and respond accordingly for future generations to come.

Some huge challenges are waiting for us in this new year coming and – fiscal cliff or not – we will need to make some tough decisions. Keeping informed will help make some of those decisions easier. Here’s hoping you had a Merry Christmas and wishing you a Happy New Year!

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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