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"Sportsmen" stab Theodore Roosevelt in the back

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Ben Long | Mar 14, 2012 06:00 AM

One of the goofier gaffes Mitt Romney has made on the 2012 Campaign Trail was when he recalled a recent Montana hunting trip – but forgot if he had pursued elk or moose.

Dig deeper, though, and that hunting trip reflects something more sinister than a slip of the tongue.

President Theodore Roosevelt left America a rich legacy of abundant wildlife and millions of acres of public lands.  Now, some influential, well-heeled hunters are stabbing Theodore Roosevelt in the back, and trying to recruit Mitt Romney to undermine TR’s legacy. 

TR smilingRoosevelt championed a simple idea that is the foundation of all conservation and wildlife management in North America. This idea is that wildlife belongs to all of us, not to the rich or the land-owning elite. That is the idea underlying America’s national parks; the effort to restore now-abundant game animals like whitetail deer, turkey to elk, from near extinction and rescue endangered species like peregrine falcons and bald eagles.

This is a uniquely American idea. In Europe, wildlife is considered the property of the landowner or nobility. Hunting and fishing -- what little remains -- is entirely in the hands of the elite.

The idea that wildlife belongs to all and should be managed by professionals using sound science is called the North American Model of Wildlife Management. Most all hunting and conservation groups, including conservative, venerable hunting/gun organizations such as the National Rifle Association, Boone & Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, embrace the model.

But not everyone. In particular, meet Don Peay and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW). The group was founded in Utah and has spread throughout the West. One state at a time, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is dismantling the very idea of a public wildlife resource, and replacing it with special privileges for the privileged.

In Montana, SFW is pressuring local county commissioners to circumvent the state wildlife commission on predator management. In Arizona and Idaho, SFW is lobbying legislatures to allow landowners to own and sell hunting privileges, independent of the rules the rest of people have to live by.

In Alaska, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife worked to have its state president Corey Rossi, appointed head of the Division of Wildlife Conservation at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Rossi had no professional credentials, but loads of political connections.Today, Rossi, stands accused of violating game laws he was sworn to defend. That’s gotten a bit of press, including a recent interview where SFW founder Don Peay spelled out SFW’s radical agenda.

Speaking to the Anchorage Daily News, Mr. Peay dismissed the Theodore Roosevelt legacy as “socialism” that needs to be “revisited.”

"We understand the North American model where wildlife belongs to the people, but we're also seeing dramatic reductions in game populations in the western United States under that model," he said.

This twisted reading of history puts Mr. Peay and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in some pretty lonely company. 

But lonely company can include powerful company. In Alaska, that included then-Gov. Sarah Palin.

Which leads to Mitt Romney, the most likely Republican  nominee for president.

Guess who took Mr. Romney on his moose (or was it elk?) hunt in Montana? Mr. Peay. Peay bragged of this political connection in an email to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife membership.      

Mr. Romney hails from Massachusetts, a state severely lacking in wildlife and wildlife habitat. Even he confesses ignorance on the topic of public land. “Unless there’s a valid, legitimate and compelling public purpose, I don’t know why the government owns so much of this land,” said Romney, campaigning in Nevada.

I suppose Romney could crack a history book and read why Theodore Roosevelt and others created this public estate we westerners are so proud of. Instead, he listens to Don Peay. Something tells me they’re talking about big bucks alright, but not the ones with antlers.

But what can sportsmen do? This: Before you give a dime to a “conservation organization” or give a vote to a political candidate, make sure they answer this question: Do you believe the wildlife of North America belong to all of us, equally, or do you think it should be sold to the highest bidder?”

If they don’t answer, or fudge in the least, keep looking. They aren’t looking out for you.

Image: Theodore Roosevelt left America better than he found it.

Ben Long is an outdoorsman, author and conservationist in Kalispell, Mont. He is senior program director for Resource Media.

Noel D Newman
Noel D Newman Subscriber
Mar 15, 2012 12:31 AM
Is that pronounced "pee" as in "pea-brain", or "pay" as in "pay me"?
Miles Grant
Miles Grant
Mar 15, 2012 11:39 AM
Agreed with you completely! One note though: Please don't confuse Romney's ignorance with a general lack of concern for wildlife & habitat in Massachusetts:[…]ng-a-comeback#axzz1pCyWdVNY
Ben Long
Ben Long
Mar 15, 2012 01:10 PM
Miles, some of my Massachusetts peeps are pushing back to my swipe at that beautiful (though dinky) state. To me, Romney seems pretty clueless on public lands and vulnerable to being led around by bad actors waving dollars. Romney is not alone in that regard.
Robb Cadwell
Robb Cadwell Subscriber
Mar 15, 2012 09:21 PM
That cow already left the barn.

I've been re reading your article and following the links to Hal's and the further links to newspapers etc. and I keep trying to figure out what's new. You mean to tell me in Montana everyone gets an equal chance at a tag? How egalitarian.

In Colorado there are these tags with a special P on them. Stands for private. Instead of a seven or nine day season they are good for five months. Sept 1 through January 31. There are literally thousands of these tags, much easier to draw on, many are still left over at the end of the season. Almost all cow tags, still people pay thousands to come shoot a cow elk. It's a lot different than sneaking through the thick timber up high trying to suck oxygen and actually hunt.

And then there are landowner preference tags too if wild animals graze on your land.

We have 4 normal seasons and usually by the middle of the third all the animals are down on private land anyway. Guided hunts are big business, some of those places advertise near 100% success and I don't doubt it, easier when they're herded up like that. Things certainly change when a rancher is pulling in six figures from hunting, beats cutting hay by a long shot.

I'd love it if everyone down here had an equal chance at a draw, we haven't for a long time. If you have a lot of money you can hunt where the animals are gathered together for winter.

I do like the idea SFW culls predators. No one likes to go predator hunting, I sure don't. Less predators more elk, deer, and antelope.

Oh, and Massachusetts does have black bear and moose but no season I've heard of. Overrun with deer. Things change west of the Connecticut river.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Mar 16, 2012 06:37 AM
I need to spend more time in Massachusetts!:) Yes, the egalitarian principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Management have been eroding for some time. Some states are more egalitarian than others. There are ways of providing incentives to private landowners without screwing the everyday hunter/angler. Montana's Block Management System is a great example of that.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Mar 16, 2012 06:39 AM
And Robb, I'll have more on the predator control issue in future blogs. Thanks for reading and your thoughtful comments.
Betsy Marston
Betsy Marston Subscriber
Mar 19, 2012 10:52 AM
Don Peay sent this response to Writers on the Range, and I'm posting it here:

I’m writing in response to Ben Long’s blog post of March 14, 2012 wherein he mistakenly asserts that Mitt Romney can’t remember whether he hunted moose or elk, and follows this mistake with another when asserting that I consider the Roosevelt legacy as “socialism”.

Before we get into that however, I think it’s important to point two things. To my knowledge, Ben Long has never met me, and I’m pretty certain he’s never met Theodore Roosevelt.

When Mr. Long refers to Mitt Romney not remembering whether he hunted moose or elk, he’s referring to a statement Governor Romney made in a debate when referring to a trip he made to the west. He said “moose”, then quickly corrected and said “elk”. Mr. Long, why would you focus on such a small mistake as a basis for your paper? Why not focus on a candidate for the presidency that actually took the time to travel west and hunt with a former head of the NWTF and the president of the NRA, and myself. There he saw the North American Model of Wildlife Management in action, learn more about land use, the effects of development etc? The answer is likely that Mr. Long exploited a simple mistake made by Governor Romney to guide us to the real point he was making, which was about me.

Now, let’s deal with the statement Mr Long made that I called the Roosevelt model, “socialism”.

He actually took this statement from an article by another writer where it wrongly declares, “Group Founder Declares that North American Wildlife Model is Socialism.” Not only is this headline misleading, it is also important to point out that the writer of this article and I have had longstanding disagreements over the role of predator control in the Northern Rockies. In fact, the alleged “quote” is from a separate article that specifically attacks predator control efforts in Alaska. So now that we have set the stage for the conversation, let’s talk about the accusation. I’ve spent much of my life helping to improving public hunting on public land. Those who know me well know of my passion and belief in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Years of working to fix difficult challenges in wildlife conservation have allowed me to see first hand the success of this model for abundant wildlife. I’ve seen how economic and other incentives, based on free-market principles embedded within the North American Model, can be combined with significant investment by sportsmen to solve difficult challenges facing wildlife. Regarding my work in wildlife conservation, results do matter. In 2009, after reviewing my record, Outdoor Life honored me as one of the 25 most influential people in hunting and fishing in the field of conservation. Working with other passionate sportsmen, we have been able to help hunt-able populations of elk, moose, rocky mountain bighorn, desert bighorn, mountain goats, antelope, wild turkey and mule deer not only to increase in number, but also to flourish. We started and helped fund the largest habitat restoration projects of public land in the West. We have also been significantly involved to make sure the North American Model works and allow the states, not the courts, to manage predator populations in order to restore healthy wildlife populations for public land hunters. These accomplishments only came as a result of the tireless efforts of many, including thousands of dedicated volunteers of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, state fish and game agencies and others. One of the greatest freedoms that I cherish as an American is our publicly owned wildlife and our great public lands. I have personally enjoyed the public resources throughout Utah and the West, and I intend for that opportunity to continue well into the future.
 Finally, in a time of harsh political rhetoric and misleading headlines, I would caution against those whose primary efforts seem to be directed at increasing divisiveness in the sportsmen community. The threats to wildlife are real and growing. The attacks on our outdoor heritage are increasing. Now is the time for unity rather than division among sportsmen. Now is a time to protect what we love through increased sportsmen involvement. We can solve difficult challenges by utilizing the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to improve incentives for wildlife protection and tireless work of sportsmen. I ask all sportsmen whose dedication is the improvement of our wildlife resources to look past the headlines and focus on the substance of what makes wildlife in America great.

Ben Long
Ben Long
Mar 19, 2012 10:59 AM
Thanks Don. I stand by my column. Mr. Romney's statement was what I said it was: a slip of the tongue. Your opinions are not only evident in your public statements, but moreover by the kinds of policies SFW has advanced in Alaska, Utah and beyond. Your comment about wishing to avoid divisiveness among sportsmen is nonsense -- SFW has no problem dividing sportsmen when doing so advances its agenda. I look forward to extending this conversation in future posts.
Ben Long
Ben Long
Mar 19, 2012 11:39 AM
Mr. Peay says outdoorsmen should stand united in these troubled times. And they are -- united agaisnt Peay's SFW. Here's a story about the NRA and Safari Club calling BS on some of SFW's work...[…]/release-groups-forever-game.html.csp
Mark  Richards
Mark Richards
Mar 19, 2012 07:52 PM
With all due respect to Don Peay, I don't at buy his response to this and other articles.

The fact is he said that the North American model of wildlife management needed to be "revisited" and alluded it was "socialism."

Once those words were spoken, the cat was out of the bag and went viral, and from Alaska to the lower-48 the vast majority of the hunting community is outraged. And rightly so.

Here in Alaska SFW has tried to pull the same thing they have done in other states. They took over our F&G department, inserted their own people like Corey Rossi in leadership positions, make it all about predators, influence legislators and other decision makers to allocate more permits or tags to auction off.

SFW and their man Corey Rossi brought us bear snaring and helicopter transport of "hunters." If that isn't divisive in the hunting community I don't know what is. SFW and Corey Rossi brought us privatization of wildlife schemes that included allocation of special permits for the wealthy and special hunting seasons and methods and means. Imagine a wealthy hunter having his or her own dall sheep hunting season, and helicopter transport to the top of the mountain. Not divisive? C'mon.

To hear Mr. Peay call for unity after all SFW has done and continues to try to do in Alaska, boggles the mind. We all will never agree on every single issue, that should be a given, and I think it's good to have honest rational respectful debate. One thing is for sure though, we are never going to get to unity here in Alaska if SFW keeps promoting things that we know the majority of hunters don't accept. The further effects I am seeing is now the non-hunters who we need the continued support from are turning against us, the SFW agenda is making us all look bad and giving us a black eye.

Robb Cadwell
Robb Cadwell Subscriber
Mar 20, 2012 06:41 AM
Ben I look forward to your article on predators, some great writing here at HCN, part of the reason I'm a subscriber. I also should have mentioned I'm in no danger of voting for Mitt "The elk hunter" Romney.

At your link the story was as much about a spinoff of SFW called Big Game Forever as about SFW. Big Game Forever is a good example of why this self identified liberal tree hugger is conflicted.

I'm on the email list at Big Game like I am at HCN and many other orgs and media outlets.

A few weeks ago I got a rare email from Big Game Forever informing me that the US Fish and Wildlife Service was considering importing wolves to the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. They provided a link to the US F+W web site where wolves as well as other options were listed, and they provided a way for me to send an email voicing my disapproval of such an option by entering minimal personal information. So I went ahead and sent the email.

Within a couple days the US F+W had a news release unequivocally removing any thought of wolves from consideration. Big Game Forever said they had assisted in sending over 50,000 emails.

This was the first instance I've seen of a pro hunting group effectively using crowd sourced email, (if that's the name of the technique) Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other groups, are much less nimble or modern by comparison. Up until this time there has been no effective population control on wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. To say wolves are unwelcome by big game hunters further south would be a slight understatement.

I certainly wouldn't support any further privatisation of hunting, just like I don't like to see more roads, ATVs, and mountain bikes, but I can't deny that these groups are fulfilling a need for a public voice that up until now has been unmet by more traditional groups.
Tom Darnell
Tom Darnell Subscriber
Mar 20, 2012 02:28 PM
Unfortunately many of us that own the wildlife cannot hunt that wildlife on millions of acres of public land because access is controlled by well-heeled elites who consider the wildlife their own. That is why I strongly believe that if a farmer or rancher is receiving payments from the people that own the wildlife then those farmers and ranchers should provide access to public lands. Seems like more than a fair trade to me.
Miles Grant
Miles Grant
Mar 21, 2012 06:27 AM
Here in Northern Virginia, we have deer season every night at dusk. It's called the drive home. Backyard gardens make this area one big salad bar for deer & collisions with cars are out of control: http://thegreenmiles.blogsp[…]ults-of-unlimited-deer.html
Rusty Austin
Rusty Austin Subscriber
Mar 21, 2012 06:39 PM
Again, it's always the GOP that has these issues, never Democrats. We need to be able to talk about that fact, instead of ignore it.
Keith Mark
Keith Mark
May 22, 2012 11:50 AM
  Open letter to Ben Long

I have read, and then re-read, Ben Long’s article, “’Sportsmen’ Stab Theodore Roosevelt in the Back.” As I am a life-long hunter, conservationist, and someone who openly brags about living a “hunting lifestyle” and having personal knowledge that directly contradicts some of Mr. Long’s statements, I became quite angry at the article. I immediately sat down and wrote a scathing reply and then realizing I had sunk to Mr. Long’s level, promptly tore it up. I waited a day, then sat down and wrote another scathing response. Once again, I realized that I had fallen into the crafty scheme of anti-hunters, and tore that response up as well.

You see, those that are anti-hunting, anti-trapping, anti-fishing, and anti-gun will never take those rights from us in a fair head-to-head fight. We know it, and most importantly, they know it, too. That is why anti-hunters have infiltrated all aspects of the hunting community from fish and game commissions, to game wardens, to magazine writers. They call themselves hunters but have quite an underlying agenda. The goal is simple: pit hunters against hunters as a fractured group can be divided and conquered. I see it all the time, and it sickens me.

Anything that pits hunters against hunters is distasteful to me. That can be as simple as gun hunters versus bow hunters, rifle hunters versus muzzleloader hunters, recurve bows versus compound bows, crossbows versus other bows, baiting versus no baiting, high fence versus “fair chase,” or assault weapons versus more traditional weapons, and the list goes on and on!

I have gone back and read a few of Mr. Long’s columns, and it is clear that he relishes pitting hunters against hunters. It doesn’t appear to me that thorough investigation or truth matters to Mr. Long before he sets out to write a column. One thing I did note is that in at least three of Mr. Long’s columns, he attacks Don Peay personally and Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife. Obviously, he has an ax to grind, a personal ax to grind, and he doesn’t care if his falsehoods and half-truths end up having a serious adverse effect on hunting so long as it achieves his personal agenda. Disgraceful!

I have absolutely no idea what Mr. Long’s personal agenda is, but it does not take a rocket scientist to recognize there is one. Maybe there is a clue in the very first paragraph of the column where he attacks Mitt Romney for stating he promoted hunting. In fact, Mr. Long pulls a comment made by Mr. Romney out of context and then states “dig deeper, though, and that hunting trip reflects something more sinister than a slip of the tongue.” There you have it; Mr. Long accuses Mitt Romney of something “sinister!” He definitely had my interest peaked, so I carefully read the rest of the article to see what “sinister” plot, plan or action Mitt Romney was up to. But, the “sinister” plot was never revealed. The fact that Mr. Long accused Mitt Romney of something “sinister” and then provided not one shred of evidence to support it speaks loudly with his silence. No honest journalist should do it, and no editor worth his salt would run that kind of garbage.

Another thing I have noticed in Mr. Long’s columns, and particularly in this particular one, is that he is all about “class warfare.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Long learned his journalistic tactics while working as a community organizer for ACORN or while working on the “re-elect the president” committee. Just as I’m appalled at anti-hunters pitting hunters of all kind against each other, I’m more appalled when small-minded journalists try to pit Americans against other Americans. What a common theme – white versus black, rich versus poor, Christian versus Jew! It’s all part of the divide-and-conquer strategy. Mr. Long obviously adheres to the rich versus the poor mentality.

Okay. By now, I’ve defended Mitt Romney and indicated that I can’t stand the “woe is me, the poor guy getting run over by the rich guy” mentality. So, you figured out that I’m a wealthy Republican. Wrong! I am a lifelong Democrat and come from a family where my father didn’t finish high school! I have become successful and am very proud of the fact that in my day job, I represent most of the blue collar organized labor workers in Kansas City. I’m also proud of the fact that I hunt all over the world and currently co-host a very successful television on the Outdoor Channel with WWE legend Shawn Michaels titled “MacMillan River Adventures.” I’m also proud of the fact that Ted Nugent is a close friend of mine, and I consider him to be my mentor when it comes to what I know about the outdoors and wildlife management. I’m also a very proud family man married 27 years with 3 wonderful children. But, enough about me, as there are other parts of the article I want to take Mr. Long to task for.

Mr. Long specifically states that Don Peay and Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife do not support the North American Model of Wildlife Management. In fact, Mr. Long pulled a quote from an article written by an Alaskan journalist that attributed to Mr. Peay the term “socialism” when discussing the North American Model. Did Mr. Long talk to Mr. Peay about the accuracy of that Alaskan article? The answer is emphatically no! I spoke with Mr. Peay personally, and he is an unequivocally strong supporter of the North American Model of Wildlife Management. Mr. Peay indicated that the quote attributed to him was taken out of context and was blatantly false. So, unlike Mr. Long, I did a little of my own investigation into the author of that Alaskan article, Richard Mauer.

What I found out about Mr. Mauer is that he likes to use the word “socialism” in his writings. On a totally unrelated topic, Mr. Mauer wrote, “For many of these same men and women, steeped in their ideology, the whole concept of public lands is socialism and these lands should be divested or sold off.” I also read where Mr. Mauer wrote, “There is a tremendous move in our country to privatize wildlife and make the quality hunting and fishing available only to those who can afford to buy land and rivers to bring hunting and fishing into line with the other privileges that are the sole province of the wealthy.” This kind of sounds like the class warfare game plan in full force and effect! Obviously, this becomes a perfect source for Mr. Long to cite and support his own divide-and-conquer agenda.

If I needed anymore proof that I would not agree with Mr. Mauer’s beliefs, I found another statement, “No rational person with knowledge of it could, in good conscience, support expanded oil exploration.” That sounds a lot like a tree-hugger to me!

But, Mr. Long just adopted the statement from the Alaskan paper as gospel. No independent research and not the decency to call Mr. Peay to get his own thoughts on the matter. Anything but fair journalism!

Finally, in the end, Mr. Long comes back to Mr. Romney and makes a point that Mr. Romney had actually gone on a hunt with Don Peay and then alludes to something about them “talking about big bucks. All right, but not the ones with antlers.” I feel very comfortable in contending that Mr. Long did not speak with Mr. Romney before making these comments. However, I have! Although I am a Democrat, I was privileged to sit in on a brainstorming meeting with Mr. Romney and a handful of other individuals who are truly concerned with hunting and conservation issues. It was at a time before Mr. Romney had announced his candidacy for this year’s Presidential election, and he was trying to gather as much information as he could about wildlife management issues. So, Mr. Long, where you sit there and throw stones at individuals without any personal knowledge, I’m here to catch those stones and throw them back in your direction with fact and knowledge.

I can unequivocally state that Mr. Romney will be a strong supporter of hunters and of hunters’ rights. He will be a supporter of the Second Amendment and gun ownership. He believes that wildlife is best managed by the State and not the Federal Government. He agrees with the delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, in turn allowing states to manage the hunting of wolves just as they do all other animal populations in their state. In short, I’m 100 percent convinced that Mitt Romney will be a strong proponent of all hunters’ rights!

Now, don’t think that I completely endorse everything that Mitt Romney stands for. I stand diametrically opposed to most of his positions on organized labor but do believe he is the right man to turn our economy around. I know for a fact that he is the only man in the race that has a genuine concern for hunters and gun owners.

While you were attacking Mitt Romney did you notice that the former head of the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jamie Rapport Clark, is now the president of Defenders of Wildlife? Have you ever written about the “sinister” implications of that? I am betting not!

Have you ever written about the anti-gun agenda of the Obama Administration? Have you ever written of the “sinister” plan of our Department of Justice to push an anti-gun agenda by putting guns in the hands of Mexican criminals that lead to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent? Of course not! Therefore, I challenge your readers to question “your agenda!”

Lastly, I want to end on my personal observations of Don Peay. Are you aware that in 2009 Don Peay was honored as one of the 25 most influential people in hunting and fishing in the field of conservation? Have you ever written in one of your columns that Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife help fund the largest habitat restoration project of public land in the west including more than 750,000 acres at a cost close to $70 million? Have you written in an article that Don Peay has written and spoken consistently to ensure that the North American model be utilized by the states, not the courts to manage predator populations in order restore healthy wildlife populations for public land hunters? Have you ever written about the fencing of the freeways and highways project that Don Peay and Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife promoted and ultimately enacted to preserve the mule deer population in Utah? Have you written about Don Peay’s tireless efforts to aid law enforcement in the stopping of poaching? Have you written about Don Peay and Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife’s tireless efforts to restore various game populations in the western states by transplanting animals at the cost of more than $200 million? Have you ever printed that prior to the founding of Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife most Utah game populations were going down dramatically and since the creation of Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife every species, including moose, bison, elk, big horn, desert big horn, antelope, mountain goats and turkey have increased from 200% to 500%. Have you let your readers know that there used to be less than 1,000 quality tags in Utah and today there is over 5,000 public draw permits for trophy species for all of the animals listed above excluding turkey? Have you touted the efforts of Don Peay, Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife and their counterpart, Big Game Forever for spearheading the effort to delist the grey wolf so that the devastation of game populations by the wolves in the western states can be stopped?

Well, Mr. Long, just as you ended your column with a statement, “but what can sportsman do?” I would like to end my comments with a similar question. But what can sportsman do? Well, I suggest that before they give any credibility to anyone who writes about the sport or lifestyle they cherish, they should do a little research. If the writer has an agenda or an ax to grind, their comments are worthless. If the writer does not do their homework and base their articles on falsehoods and not fact, then their column is worth nothing more than to be used as a fire starter the next time you are sitting around a campfire with other “real” hunters! So, Mr. Long, I should thank you as thanks to your writings, I’m enjoying a huge campfire!

Keith Mark

Ben Long
Ben Long
May 22, 2012 01:29 PM
Thanks for the comments Keith. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Loyalty to sportsmen, always. Loyalty to 'Sportsmen For Fish and Wildlife' when they deserve it." The point of the column is is simple: SFW is making bank on a system that takes a public resource and auctions it off to the highest bidder, with no accountability or transparency. I think SFW did some good work once, but this system they've built is rotten and violates the basic principles of the North American Model. If exposing that's a hidden agenda, so be it.
Keith Mark
Keith Mark
May 24, 2012 11:03 AM

This will be my last post regarding Ben Long and his obvious agenda, which is anti-hunting at its core! I have no intentions of ever reading a Ben Long article in the future and I encourage all hunters and true supporters of wildlife and wild places to do the same!

I saw that Mr. Long immediately responded to my earlier post. He did not address my points made about all the good SFW and Don Peay have done for hunting, sportsmen, wildlife and the availability to more big game tags by the general public due to the efforts of SFW. He did not address the corruptness of the far left nor my comments about which presidential candidate would be the strongest supporter of hunter’s rights in this year’s election. His silence and sidestepping most of my points speak volumes as to what Mr. Long’s real agenda is.

However, wanting more closure for my own selfish reasons, as I am one who cannot stand it when truth and right is distorted or denied, I contacted Ryan Benson of Big Game Forever; who, unlike Ben Long, had contacted Rich Mauer, the Alaskan journalist that Mr. Long had relied on to investigate the “socialism” quote. Mr. Mauer had a totally differed spin on Don Peay’s quote. In his own words, this is Mr. Mauer’s response to Ryan Benson’s inquiry:

On Apr 6, 2012, at 10:27 AM, Ryan Benson wrote:Re: Request for Direct "Socialism" Quote

I work with Big Game Forever on wildlife policy issues. SFW is one of quite a few partner groups. I want to make sure I understand exactly what was said by Mr. Peay about “socialism”.

Rich Mauer’s response:
“The reference to socialism came up during the part of the interview where he was explaining his idea that the idea of common ownership of game doesn't provide an incentive for landowners to improve conditions for wildlife, which he described in the context of the difference between socialism and private enterprise. It's almost like the use of that word triggers a lot of emotion that maybe isn't justified in an intellectual sense, which seems to me to be the way he was describing it.”


Then, one very last truthful comment from Rich Mauer:

    “Hi Ryan -- my experience with bloggers, whether associated with a larger publication or not, is that they pick things up without establishing context or verifying their own assertions through their own reporting.” (Emphasis added by KLM)

Wow! It’s rare that one journalist will bash another but Mr. Mauer did not hesitate to put in writing that Ben Long did NOT establish the context nor verify the comments made by Don Peay, but instead made his own assertions regarding them! Boys and girls, that equals AGENDA! Therefore, Ben Long receives a solid F in journalist 101!

Still, I was perplexed with the open attack against Don Peay and SFW so I called on my friend Ted Nugent for some reasoning. His answer was immediate and simple. “The anti-hunters will always attack those that are doing the most to promote hunting!”
That’s when it hit me! I was looking for a reason or some logic behind Mr. Longs attack, but there isn’t any. He is purely and simply attacking SFW and Don Peay because they are true champions of hunters! Ted then pointed out to me that this is the same tactic that the anti’s have tried to use against him for years. “Without effect!” he added! His final words were to encourage Don Peay, SFW and Big Game Forever to keep up the good work and “Godspeed!” That’s good enough for me! In fact, that should be more than enough for ALL sportsmen and hunters!

So, to Don Peay, SFW and Big Game Forever, Godspeed!

To Ben Long, good riddance!

Keith Mark

Tim Baker
Tim Baker Subscriber
May 24, 2012 02:05 PM
While Ben Long is perfectly capable of defending himself, I would like to point out that Mr. Mark's stance that any negative comments about a particular type or aspect of hunting is an attack on all hunting is simply preposterous. Not to mention that using Ted Nugent's name as an icon of good hunting is ironic at the very least.

I have long supported hunting that was ethical, considered, and useful but have long derided hunting solely for trophy conquests or vanity. Hunting to put meat on the table seems to me to be a valid form of hunting while hunting solely to put a head on the wall seems like the crassest form of vanity.

The argument that a discussion about differences of opinion in the hunting community being divisive is not an honest one -- if we cannot bring these real issues out into the open for a discussion because of the alleged frailty of support in the general public then we open ourselves to supporting things we ought not. I believe any real challenge to the sport lies in coloring all hunting with the same paintbrush, not in pointing out that there are good and bad aspects to it.
Ben Long
Ben Long
May 24, 2012 08:36 PM
Mr. Mark, I would respond to your allegations that I have an anti-hunting agenda but I have to go grille some elk burgers for my family...
Ryan Benson
Ryan Benson
May 25, 2012 11:13 AM
Mr. Mark, you're wasting your breath. This guy doesn't stand for sportsmen or public land hunters. This guy's a surrogate for those who support the gradual, but steady erosion of hunter's rights and privileges. The last two blogs I've seen have both been attacking anyone who supports reasonable predator control. He brags about "grilling elk burgers", but ignores the fact that 12,000 fewer sportsmen will be grilling elk burgers this year thanks to the uncontrolled proliferation of predators. And that is just in Idaho. Elk Harvest 1994-28,000 elk. Elk Harvest 2008 16,017. Idaho Fish & Game Director's Annual Report to the Commission FY 2009 (revised 3/24/2010). Elk herds in Idaho's largest wilderness areas, collectively covering millions of acres are in serious trouble. Montana's most important elk herd, the Northern Yellowstone herd is down 80% and shows no sign of stopping. Gallatin Valley, West and East Fork of the Bitter Root, all down more than 50%. Literally thousands of fewer elk. Decline of key wildlife herds, this is the threat to the blue collar guy's opportunity to hunt elk. Why not highlight this man-made experiment gone awry? Instead he attacks groups who offer a reasonable and simple alternative: restoration of state management authority and refocus on recovery of these important wildlife resources. The attack on one form of hunting, the loss of one hunting right, the loss of key wildlife resources is indeed a slippery slope. So what side are you on? Pushing hunting and wildlife down the slope or working to protect it?

Mr. Mark, I think you are right. Don't waste your time with Mr. Long. He's grilling elk burgers.
Ben Long
Ben Long
May 25, 2012 11:58 AM
Mr. Benson. You deploy an old debate tactic: if you can't win the argument, change the subject. I don't speak for all sportsmen, but am not the only one concerned about the tag raids spearheaded by SFW, which violate the North American Model of Wildlife Management. (Just ask around Arizona.) And you misrepresent my blog about predators: what I criticize is Utah's coyote bounty, which is biologically guaranteed to fail and waste sportsmen's dollars.
Ben Lamb
Ben Lamb
May 25, 2012 12:16 PM
Sorry Ryan, Maybe you and Peay would be more believable if you hadn't tried to kill Simpson/Tester and keep wolves listed for your personal gain. SFW got shot down in AZ, MT and WY because of your handing of wildlife over to private interests. You and SFW milk public tags for operational money with no oversight on how those funds are spent through the Utah Expo and you and your crew have tried desperately to politicize wolves in Montana in order to hand our wildlife over to more private interests. That Toby Bridges brought SFW into MT is of great concern to ethical sportsmen who do not advocate for poisoning wolves or threatening appointed officials.

It is SFW that splits sportsmen. It is BGF/SFW who lied about the Bacca National Wildlife Refuge and their preferred alternative for management of elk. It is SFW/BGF who the NRA, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and a host of other groups told the entire Washington DC Press corps and every elected official in D.C. to never trust again after you lied about their position on wolf delisting riders.

Sportsmen and women of Montana killed the BGF/SFW agenda last legislative session when you came for license dollars to pay for Wildlife Service's attempts to kill coyotes for sheep producers, and we killed your horrible wolf bill that would have kept MT in the dark on wolves like SFW/BGF have kept Wyoming in the dark.
Vito Quatraro
Vito Quatraro
May 26, 2012 10:15 AM
I would suggest everyone review the NRA press release concerning SFW on the wolf issue. It can be found at under news. Here is a short quote from that press release: Congressional offices and members of the media should exercise caution in accepting as fact, or repeating, any claims made by Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Big Game Forever or any person claiming to represent them. Due to the blatant misrepresentation contained in the press release circulated by these two groups, any claims they make in the future should be thoroughly investigated and independently confirmed.
JW Westman
JW Westman Subscriber
May 26, 2012 10:03 PM
Wow, kind of ironic that SFW/BGF are trying to drag Ben Long through the sludge, some of the comments being thrown at Mr. Long are indeed ironic. Plain and simple SFW are the modern day Robin Hoods only they rob from us and give to themselves. They have a long track record with, their attempts to privatize what is public property, look at Utah, Arizona and the Alaska fiasco. Don Peay, SFW/BGF and Ted Nugent for that matter are what is hurting public hunting for a public resource. They leave a long trail littered with falsehoods and misrepresentations. They aren't in the same league as Ben Long, a firm believer in the Model and the Public Trust. Keep up the good work Ben Long , you have many more supporters than detractors.
Joe Perry
Joe Perry
May 28, 2012 03:10 PM
Contrary to some of the claims made above, it is clear to Montana resident sportsmen that SFW/BGF certainly don't represent our best interests. Do you hear any of our homespun groups swallowing their drivel? Montana has plenty of its own issues and we clearly do not want to go down the path advocated by SFW/BGF. Ben Long is a respected Montana sportsmen and writer. Stand your ground Ben, we've got your back!

Joe Perry
Robert Wood
Robert Wood
May 31, 2012 04:17 PM
Seriously, Ryan Benson, you do you know what a hypocrite is? Your claim that Ben long isn't for the public land sportsman makes you one. You represent SFW/BGF, groups that called fisherman in Utah "Whiners" because they were fighting for stream access. Your groups supported the loss of access there, Ben Long on the other hand supports stream access in Montana, and fought for it in the last legislative session.

You want to talk about loss of opportunities to the resident sportsman from predators, but promote the taking of the elite tags from states to sell to those with the deepest pockets. Average Joe, that hunts public lands are the losers.

Your claim the elk herds are down 80% around Yellowstone are true, but ignore or don't understand the fact that those herds are close to the objective set forth by a law the legislature passed in 2003.

As if you had a clue, you blame wolves and predators for all our woes, but fail to understand the simple concept that laws are dictating the decline not wolves. But hay, it's hard to make money off of something as boring as a law isn't it? The emotional stigma that follows wolves around make it easier to make money, and sell memberships. That's why the continual drum beats.

The biggest threat to the resident sportsman is the western states would be SFW/BGF.
Ben Long
Ben Long
May 31, 2012 05:04 PM
This is getting sporty. Thanks Robert. For the record, though, I think the top three threats to hunting and fishing are (a) habitat destruction (2) loss of access to said habitat and (c) an increasingly urbanized culture that does not understand or respect hunting and fishing. I think a robust debate allows all sportsmen to judge who is working in their best interest.
Robert Wood
Robert Wood
May 31, 2012 05:50 PM
With all do respect Ben, I said "The biggest Threat to resident sportsman", not hunting in general. I agree with you on the threat to hunting. LOL.
Ken Zimny
Ken Zimny
Mar 27, 2013 10:28 AM
Ryan, Just want to say what a pleasure it was for me to help shoot Arizona HB2072 to hell where it belonged. I am a nobody average Joe Hunter all the way in Illinois, yet it was me who made a personal e-mail appeal to Crystal Cruz, KTVK, and was granted interviews.........including Crystal's crucifiction of Jerry Weiers on Phoenix television. Hahaha. Where he admitted to getting greased by your group to sponsor the bill, and withdrew his own support of his own sponsored legislation!!! How often do you see a politician to that! I think it's pretty cool with modern technology I could be responsible for this from such a long distance away.

You and your toadies are a pathetic bunch stealing money from sportsmen and taxpayers to support your private hunting club. Why don't you go out, take pride in yourself, and get yourself a real job? Oh, I forgot.........because you're an attorney.

You are nothing but a parasite.

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