A week from Tuesday may quite possibly be one of the more dreadful days many of us experience in our lifetimes. Judging by the fanaticism directed towards or against the two Presidential candidates, it’s safe to assume some Hoosiers will be “slightly” upset with the result. On the other hand, the jubilation we are sure to suffer through from the other half of us will surely be epic.

Of course, there are people like me who are appalled by the entire thing. I’ll confess, for the first time in my life, as a proud voter, I would rather not have to choose between “the two.” Don’t hate me for that. This is the sort of thing that makes this country great. To paraphrase the eclectic 80’s band Devo, “Freedom of choice, is what you got.”

Fortunately for us, there are many other choices to make. Painful or not, it’s important that we all get out to the polls and exercise our right to vote. It’s our patriotic duty to do so.

With all the hoopla regarding this gut-wrenching election cycle, in recent weeks an inordinate amount of focus has turned towards an issue that has nothing to do with spendy pantsuits and toupee-like, permanent hair weaves. Perhaps you’ve heard about Question 1 on the Indiana ballot?

Essentially, Question 1 asks Hoosiers to approve (or disapprove) an amendment to the Indiana Constitution that will guarantee Hoosiers the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife. It reads:

Question 1

Shall the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended by adding a Section 39 to Article 1 to provide that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to:

(1) promote wildlife conservation and management: and

(2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing

This seems fairly straightforward to me. The way I read it, this measure guarantees that everything will pretty much stay the same as it is now: Hunting would continue to be used as a wildlife management tool for biologists, based on scientific facts, and the heritage and tradition of the American sportsman would be preserved in the process. Except, it would be an Indiana constitutional right. But, you have to ask yourself why would an amendment such as this be necessary?

While most outdoorsman are well aware of the assault on hunting and fishing around the country (and the world for that matter), many folks are not up to speed. In a nutshell, there are surprisingly powerful, well-funded groups that would like to eliminate hunting, fishing and trapping. Their logic is based purely on feelings, and with very few exceptions, not science. In other words, the crux of their argument is a social matter and does not hold up in the court of reality.

Organizations such as People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) initiate their subversive efforts based on false pretense and unfortunately their goals have come to fruition at an alarming rate. It’s a shame it has come to this, but this is why we need to say “yes” to Question 1.

I should add that HSUS is not the same as the Animals Humane Society, which does good things for cats and dogs, for example. That alone should tell you that anti-hunting organizations are using smoke and mirrors to profligate their agenda. Incidentally, 19 other states have passed similar amendments that have mitigated ridiculous, ill-conceived attacks by anti-hunting organizations in the courts. This is a tax-payer win. Sadly, the “antis” quickly turn their attention to other, more vulnerable states.

Over the past couple of decades, these groups have successfully eliminated hunting seasons in some places by appealing to the non-hunting public and convincing them that harvesting game animals is not based on sound science. It’s not that hard to do when you consider that if you survey people on the beach in California or Long Island, or wherever, that many Americans have no idea what country attacked Pearl Harbor, who the first President was - or who the current Vice President is, for that matter. The fact is, a lot of Americans are really - how do I say this politely – uh, dumb. No offense if you missed any of those. It’s Joe Biden by the way.

I guess you could consider me a tad bit biased on the subject given my avid hunting and fishing lifestyle, as well as my occupation as a hunting and fishing guide. There is that. But, I might add that I’ve spent my entire life cultivating a better understanding of the natural world that surrounds us. When I was a kid, I had pet salamanders, frogs, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and all kinds of aquariums full of various species of fish. I even raised giant silk moths like the cecropia and polyphemus, right on the back porch. Earning my biology degree from Northern Michigan University wasn’t exactly difficult for me, though, occasionally I have nightmares about organic chemistry. I keep doing the labs over and over and get an "F" every time. Chemistry purgatory.

I digress. The point is, I like animals. A lot. That may be hard to believe when you consider I’ve sent enough ducks, geese, pheasants and deer to the big wildlife refuge in the sky to fill a couple of semi-trailers, but frankly, it’s not all that unusual for avid hunters to feel this way. North American hunters are the original conservationists. Organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation - among many others - are largely occupied by hunters and fishermen. We put our heart and soul, and lots of money into making sure that wild lands are preserved, habitat is enhanced and water stays clean.

Ducks Unlimited builds wetlands for ducks, but thousands of other creatures benefit from their efforts. Non-game species, such as pollinating insects, reptiles, amphibians, songbirds, small mammals, and fish benefit tremendously from money and projects derived from hunter-oriented conservation (did I just say tremendously?).

I’ll make this simple, if you take away our privilege to hunt and fish, and therefore, much of the reason so many hunters are devout conservationists, the world will lose a lot of what good is left of it. It may seem paradoxical to many non-hunters, but trust me when I say outdoorsman and conservationists in general are one of the only forces that can continue to hold off rampant development and destructive land use. It’s in our best interest to make sure we can continue to take to the fields, woods and waters to pursue fish and wildlife and preserve the great American heritage of hunting and fishing for future generations. Vote YES on Question 1, please.

Jay Anglin writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Argus. Write to him at jay@anglinoutdoors.com.

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