Hunters and Environmentalist - A Shared Interest?

David Trammel's picture

One of the things I will be loosening here on the new Green Wizard site will be the discussion of guns, gun ownership and personal defense.

And NO we aren't going to go all "Rambo" on the Internet, but guns have their place in a Collapsing World.

And a "World Made Harsh" may require you to defend yourself and we would be remiss if we allowed Future Green Wizards to walk such a harsh world unarmed.

Admin Warning:
I will moderate said discussion very firmly and you may be called on any unpleasantness or rude comments. Remember, civility and the willingness to accept that you disagree with another person on an issue, and yet agree on many other issues is the "Golden Rule". One disagreement does not sever a relationship. The exact opposite, disagreements strengthen relationships. Being willing to argue a topic you feel passionately about, and being forced to defend your point of view, to people who passionately believe the exact opposite can sharpen you views about why you feel you are right or it can enlighten you to where you were wrong.


To the topic of discussion:

I ran across this article on the National Review:

"To Be Successful, Environmentalists Must Embrace Gun Culture"

"If American environmental groups want to reduce pollution, stave off the worst impacts of climate change, and preserve wild lands, they ought to do something that many of their staffers and major supporters will find hard at a time when groups like the NRA are under attack: embrace gun culture. The environmental movement had its greatest successes and enjoyed the most public esteem when it was, in large part, a hunters’ movement. Returning to those roots would broaden the appeal of conservation and advance the cause of environmental protection."


Now I will state up front: I AM A GUN OWNER.

I grew up around guns and hunting. I spent my Summers in small town Oklahoma at my grand parents, and uncle's homes and learn very early a respect for firearms and a health understanding of how dangerous they can be if misused. But guns and rifles were never treated with fear. I can remember my uncle's bedroom, with dozens of handguns and rifles just sitting out. Ammo withing easy reach. And yet I never shot anyone.

As the article points out, American hunters have in the past be at the fore front of the conservation movement in their States, and are often quite willing to put up with fees, taxes and restrictions that they view helps manage wildlife and game, in a responsible manner WHILE recognizing their right to be hunters and fishermen. Too often lately, it seems that many on the Fringe Left of environmentalism and sustainability display a almost "religious" view that equates gun ownership with "Pillager of the World!!!"

Religion has some fine points but it can often be pig headed, judgmental and narrow minded.

If you can accept that when you raise chickens, that some times, that favored hen is going to be dinner, then you have to also accept that sometimes "Bambi" is going to be deer steaks and sausages.


I can not speak for the whole of the Green Wizard community BUT I see no disconnect between a Love of Our Earth, a understanding that our Civilization is headed for a Harsh Collapse, and responsible advocacy of the right to own a gun.

You opinions are asked for...

OK, as it happens, I just finished A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. It was published 70 years, just before he died in 1948. Leopold was a conservationist and a life-long hunter. And one of the things he points out is that managing wildlife for conservation and managing wildlife for hunters are not always the same thing. Managing lakes and marshes for ducks, for example can be detrimental for other species of animals and plants that compete for the same living space. Duck hunters care about shooting ducks, having blinds where they can wait to shoot ducks, and open water and duck food to bring the ducks into gun range. But hunters don't care about cutting roads into natural areas that break up habitat for spawning turtles, for example, or nesting trees for owls, or driving the extinction of remnant species of plants that have existed in these micro ecosystems since the Ice Age. So it's not all about hunting and about guns. When humans set out to enhance an ecosystem for one or two valued species, they usually do it at the expense of the "insignificant little guys." And frequently the whole system is dependent on the little guys. So the "gun culture" can't just point to the environmentalists and say, "They're a bunch of snowflakes and they hate guns and they are mean to us because we kill things."

On the other hand environmentalists do more than just keep hunters from going out and killing things. Environmentalists...I hang out with a fair number of Sierra Club members and affiliated folk, and I can tell you what the environmental community in Central Illinois has been doing for the last three and a half years. Local environmentalists worked with the local Labor Table to pass a state Clean Jobs bill that will help Illinois transition from coal powered energy to solar. Many local union guys are part of the "gun culture." They were interested first and foremost in jobs: the bill passed provides training for solar power jobs. The planned retirement of aging coal plants in the area protects the tax base of small towns and insures that local communities will not be on the hook for cleaning up ash pond sites.Local fishermen are advised to eat no more than 1 1/2 lb of river-caught fish per week, because they have a high mercury content from ash pond runoff. It means cleaner air with fewer asthma sufferers and fewer heart attack patients. You can check the report 2015 report on the coal plants and look through the press releases. Tell me where you see anything about the 2nd Amendment.

But lets get back to Leopold, in 2015 the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered a MOOC "The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation " There is a list of class resources on their page:

All righty then! To quote the National Review--the opening paragraph:
"If American environmental groups want to reduce pollution, stave off the worst impacts of climate change, and preserve wild lands, they ought to do something that many of their staffers and major supporters will find hard at a time when groups like the NRA are under attack: embrace gun culture. The environmental movement had its greatest successes and enjoyed the most public esteem when it was, in large part, a hunters’ movement. Returning to those roots would broaden the appeal of conservation and advance the cause of environmental protection."

I don't think so! I've started reading Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame by
Michael Kodas Kodas is an environmental journalist; he photographs and writes about wildfires all over the world. He lives in Boulder CO. He writes:

"Development is spreading into those evermore flammable forests [of Arizona] as fast as in any other part of the nation. According to an analysis by the Arizona Republic, the pace of home building in the state's fire-prone landscapes jumped by 91 percent between the 1980s and the 2000s. While those homes are increasingly palatial, few of them meet the standards of Firewise programs from the National Fire Protection Association or Community Protection Plans from the U.S. government's Forest and Rangelands initiative. Some homeowners who bristle at any government telling them how to manage their land also expect it to provide protection for their property regardless of the hazard they create, thus magnifying the risk."


Don't mistake me. These communities breed firefighters who not only risk their lives to defend the home front, but also travel around the world to fight megafires. But they ain't reaching out to "environmentalists" saying, "How do we prevent forest fires?" Un-uh!

After Trump was elected, I went on a library quest, trying to figure out what the hell just happened and why. One of the most useful books I found was Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right .

A sociologist from California goes to the Louisiana Bayou to ask Conservatives about the environment. Just asking their opinions, mind. And the answers she got were basically. "It's God's will." "We're looking at the End of Times." and "It's none of the government's business." Pretty much the answers us snowflake environmentalists could expect from "embracing gun culture". So!

And this showed up in my newsfeed today as soon as I called up Firefox:

"How Did the End of the World Become Old News?"

So I'm not gonna feel guilt-tripped by the National Review. If "gun culture" isn't moved by millions of acres of America on fire, by 6 million children in the US. with asthma, coast lines washing away...well, bless their hearts, but I'm not gonna spend much time hugging them.

I toyed with the idea of getting a gun for hunting a few years back. I mentioned this to a neighbour and she commented that "if you really need to hunt for food you won't use a gun---you'll use a trap or a snare". I couldn't argue with this, so I stopped thinking about the purchase. I don't live in a rural area that is over-run with deer, and I know that there are probably laws against using traps on them. So that's a different context. But I suspect that most of the time the expense of getting the gear, license, etc, is more than the value of the meat.

One other point. Sport fishermen pay for licenses that pay for a lot of "conservation" on the Great lakes in Canada. Some First Nation's people do commercial fishing, and the local groups that support sports fishing have been really nasty towards these people---burning fishing boats, overt, nasty, racist propaganda, etc. One of the things that the bands have done is pay for scientific research into preserving the native fish (lake trout, whitefish, etc) against the official policy of Natural Resources to stock exotics (Pacific Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Splake.) In this case, the sports groups have not been terribly good for the environment.

David Trammel's picture

The Guardian has this article on hunters and conservation

"Not all environmentalists eat tofu: the hunters fighting climate change"

Sportsmen and traditional environmentalists aren’t always mutually exclusive, or easy co-conspirators. But, there is a critical need for information to flow between those on the ground and those in policy. In order to address the urgent realities of climate change, traditional environmentalists must continue to find ways to communicate and partner with non-traditional audiences: hunters, big agriculture, fishermen, corporations and loggers.

I wanted to talk to people in the south who already work on these frontlines, and are able to build bridges between seemingly disparate audiences.

Charlie Phillips, clammer and entrepreneur, is one of those men who’s lived several lives, as a fishmonger, horse trader and shrimper.

“I’m one of those rare Republicans that believe that if you don’t take care of your environment, your environment can’t take care of you,” he says. Phillips, the owner of Sapelo Sea Farms in Georgia, makes his living growing clams, so water quality is crucial to him, which is why he serves on boards and tries to help scientists and fishermen find common ground.

He’s frank about climate change and how it’s affecting his industry. He talks about the onset of “king tides”, and fish stock moving north as waters warm. He was working on the back of a shrimp boat in 1968 when Hurricane Camille hit. “I saw the big ships washed up on shore,” he tells me. “I’ve seen what big hurricanes can do. They’re worse now. Things aren’t what they used to be.”


There are more than 34 million active sportspeople, men, women and children, who are for the most part on environmentalist's side in their concern for water, land and the air. They are too big of a voting block for those of working against pollution and climate change to write off.

Time to practice what we preach, discensus and the ability to disagree with someone's positions on somethings, yet find what we do agree on and build from there.

Another quote from the article:

Dr Todd Merendino, the manager of conservation programs in the Ducks Unlimited Texas field office, negotiates strategic partnerships with wildlife state agencies, agricultural producers, hunters, biologists, private landowners, petrochemical companies and the oil industry. A hunter and fisherman, he has a practical, outcomes-focused approach to his work.

“Our mission is waterfowl and habitats,” he says. “I look for symbiotic relationships. Common ground. Common goals.”

He speaks with corporations about responsible growth and convinces them that “wetlands and marshes are your insurance policy against flooding”. He ticks off the nature of their conversations: flood storage capacity, coastal restoration projects, storm surge abatement, initiatives that keep the marsh healthy.

Will there be people who don't want what we want, yes. Will there be some people who actively fight against us, yes. Yet I think there will be a vast amount that agree.

I disagree with Greer and many of the people who comment on Ecosophia, in that I don't think our current president will win another term. I think that in 2020 a democratic will win, and I believe that the Democratic Party will retake the Senate. That presidential term, from 2020 to 2024 is going to be probably our last window of opportunity to do something, not to stop climate change, that predicament is baked into our Future, but to do something to reorientation our Society into a sustainable and resilient mode of operation.

Its going to be up to all of us, environmentalist and hunters, to hold the Democrats responsible for doing that, and not let them continue Business As Usual for the 1 Percent.


It’s easy to be an armchair activist in 2019, or make condescending online comments about the state of climate change activism in the south. But it’s much more difficult to swim against the ideological current, or to operate between two exasperating worlds in a hands-on way, in search of real impact.

There is certainly more opportunity for cooperation and partnership, and places where more traditional environmentalists like me could find common ground with a hunter in Arkansas or a fisherman in Georgia, so that we could, quite frankly, save what we both love.

David Trammel's picture

The United States is blessed by the fact that during the late 1800s and early 1900s, political leaders like Teddy Roosevelt, along with bipartisan consensus recognized the importance of designating some lands public and set them aside for future generations. While I understand that many of the Western states got a raw deal of this conservationist push, and had large portions of their land transferred to Federal control making their exploitation and the resultant tax revenue bonus slim and in some cases non existent, those lands do not provide any true benefit.

There is a lot to be said about being able to visit land that is relatively virgin. To be able to walk across it and just wonder at its beauty. And lets be honest, to also fish and hunt on such lands. That recognition can bridge the partisan divide that separates us too many times now.

Why Hikers Need Hunters and Vice Versa - Federal lands belong to all of us—it's time to unite to fight crooked politicians

Corporation are looking to grab resources on the cheap, by legal and semi legal ways, often with the help of politicians more concerned with next elections campaign donations than serving the interest of those who elected them. That's why its good to see both Hikers and Hunter coming together to protest and force these corporations and their paid politicians back.

We don't always have to agree with everything our neighbor believes in, but we do need to relearn how to find common cause with that neighbor on issues we both can agree on.