Sportsman’s clubs, conservation clubs, fishing clubs, snowmobile clubs, et al, all provide a place where Outdoors Enthusiasts can get together, share ideas and stay in touch with what is happening in the great outdoors. This is not simply limited to understanding how to hunt turkey more effectively, or learning which trails are the best to ride. This also extends to proposed legislation changes governing our use of the great outdoors, and these organizations play a pivotal role in helping to ensure we all enjoy our hobbies for generations to come.
Understanding how government functions is very important to protecting our rights and heritage as Americans. Yet, all too often, people take the position that they are only one person, what can they do? Sometimes the thought of joining a club, and the perceived responsibilities appear to be to great a burden on an already busy lifestyle. Others simply do not understand clubs and opt not to get involved at all. We, as sportsmen and women, must get involved. Otherwise, changes can occur in the laws, which permit access to these lands and waters, changes that could influence our ability to enjoy our natural world. The local clubs are the grass roots foundation for all sportsmen and women. Whether this club meets at a local tavern, or owns its own building, many of these clubs are affiliated with a larger Federation, whose purpose for being is to help represent the voice of the local collective of clubs to the State organization. Local clubs and County level Federations collect information from the members and submit this data for consideration in constructing official positions. These drafts are, in turn submitted to the State umbrella organization for final drafting of legal proposals, which are then presented to State Government. Only though this organized structure can anything be accomplished, as oftentimes individuals have too many differing opinions, and reaching a consensus without an organized structure is impossible to achieve in a timely fashion.
Joining a conservation club is therefore critical to an Outdoors lover’s interests. All too often, non-involved people will hear of changes in regulations, and then complain about not knowing these changes were happening, souring their attitudes towards those who made the changes. Without being involved in a club, one cannot express their views and concerns until it is too late.
A great example of this importance can be illustrated by the recent New York State Deer Season restructuring proposals. The government follows a specific process, which includes solicitation of proposals from the State level organizations and other areas, and these drafts are generally reached by consensus of the local clubs. Once the process has started, government must hold public hearings to discuss concerns about adoption of these proposals, but, as we know how public forums can be, oftentimes these meetings are simply for informative purposes only, as the crowds typically can get “out of control” when addressing sensitive elements of any piece of legislation. Having your voice heard before the proposal process occurs can certainly help save angst during the public hearing process. Joining a club also can offer the membership invaluable insight into issues not yet identified.
Opponents of our hobbies and pastimes are extremely well organized and well financed. Groups such as PETA and the SPCA have a far more effective organizational structure, and these folks understand how to play politics. State Assemblyman Dick Smith, D-Hamburg, NY, said it best during the DEC public meeting held on February 7, 2005, when he stated, “We are our own worst enemies!” Our lack of organization and ignorance as to what is happening at the State levels of government could very well be our beloved sporting tradition’s end.
Outdoors Enthusiasts must unite, and unite quickly. Losing our rights to enjoy our pastimes and hobbies is akin to losing our freedoms. Yet, we will only have ourselves to blame if this indeed happens. Many folks are dead-set against our rights and freedoms as Outdoors Enthusiasts, they are well organized, well financed and most daunting of all, they are patient and determined. We must show our resolve and commitment to our love of the great outdoors, while preserving this uniquely American quality of life for generations to come.
Act now and join a conservation club today. For more information on the many clubs in our area, and how to join one or more of these organizations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We need you, and the great outdoors needs us!