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U.S. Forest Service Slaps Hunters in the Face

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First, why in the world do they think the process is moving too fast? Don’t they realize that they have been conducting public information meetings for two years? It is their process. By my count there have been about five different sessions with 3 – 4 meetings in varying locations with each session. That’s fifteen to twenty opportunities for people to show up and let their voices be heard. I don’t know about the Forest Service, but something that takes 2 – 3 years coming to fruition isn’t moving too quickly. And then it struck me: The USFS is knuckling under to pressure from environmentalists who are throwing a childlike temper tantrum because they didn’t get what they wanted.

The second thing that struck me is the USFS caving in to environmentalists is an affront to all hunters who did participate in the process. When this process started the NC WNC and conservation groups saw an opportunity to influence the long range plan to benefit wildlife. We know the deplorable state of wildlife habitat on the National Forests. Conservationists from the Ruffed Grouse Society, Quality Deer Management, National Wild Turkey Federation, and others came together and energized their membership to show up for all those meetings. We took time from our schedules, businesses, and travelled to participate. It costs us not just time but money. As a result the USFS, using the public input process they designed, identified wildlife habitat as the number one public concern and the draft plan reflected that. We did what they asked. To ignore that effort by those who really care about a healthy forest and wildlife is a slap in the face.

Third, an old southern saying comes to mind: dance with the one that brung ya. The greatest ally the USFS has in maintaining a healthy forest is hunters. As part of our pursuit, whether deer or small game, we understand habitat and what it takes to make it. We are also the ones who provide funding. In a recent article the Chief of the Forest Service was lamenting the loss of funds and how much went to fighting wildfires (over 50%). Imagine how tight those funds would be if hunters didn’t fund game enforcement on the National Forests through license fees. Just who does the USFS think provides funding for what little habitat work is done or any wildlife research project on the forests? Hunters do that through the purchase of guns and ammunition which funds the Pittman-Robertson Act. So why does the Forest Service turn their back on the greatest ally they have? It can only be that they are afraid of the environmentalists or are in favor of their agenda. You decide.

This week’s sporting clays lesson is about balance; the second part of the Ready Position. In our sporting clays classes, many novice shooters lean away from the gun when they shoulder it. Not only does that give them the wrong eye/barrel alignment, but it also starts them off out of balance. After assuming the proper stance discussed last week, the shooter needs to be balanced slightly weight forward with weight evenly distributed between the feet. Some would liken it to a boxer stance.

This is particularly important when shooting crossing targets. The upper torso should be the only part of the body that moves in tracking the target. A slightly weight forward, equally balanced stance provides the upper torso flexibility to smoothly follow the target from the hold point to the break point which will be discussed in future columns. The good thing about this is that stance and balance can be practiced at home in your den or basement. Remember, getting the fundamentals right provide quicker target acquisition and a smooth swing necessary for busting clay targets. Start practicing!

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