AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Much has been made of the vicious three-way battle between New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ)’s front office, anti-hunting extremists and pro-sportsman advocates in New Jersey over the black bear hunt.

The hunt, termed Murphy’s “first year mulligan” by respected star ledger columnist Paul Mulshine in a blistering article, has been a constant source of frustration – and for good reason. On the one side, New Jersey’s million-odd sportsmen feel attacked, and rightly so, by an extremist Governor who takes gleeful potshots at sporting enthusiasts and gun owners at every term – taking from them the state lands that their license fees and excise taxes pay for and threatening more. On the other side, an organized, deep-pocketed anti-hunting extremist element that is hell bent on ending the sport of hunting by any means necessary. It is a tough spot.

Many New Jersey hunters, fishermen and trappers think that these extremists, however, will stop at just ending the bear hunt. That couldn’t be further from the case.

The Game: End Hunting Town By Town

Energized by wins such as arbitrarily pushing the bear hunt off state lands (over 60% of the available bear hunting land in the state) and wins in other towns such as Holmdel, anti-hunters are now trying to sneak a through a legal backdoor to ban hunting, by going to each of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities and ban our sports town by town, borough by borough, until there is no land left to hunt in the state.

Check out this petition by the “League Of Humane Voters Of New Jersey” attempting to end the River Vale, New Jersey deer hunt:

 

Notice any familiar language there? Background checks (for recreating on publicly-owned and paid for land, no less!), imagery of big bad gun owners carelessly hurting children and pets, “deadly weapons” – this is a page directly out of the playbook of anti-gun extremists from Bloomberg to Moms Demand Action.

This is the game – anti-hunting extremists are taking small towns with large tracts of public and private hunting land to court (or the court of public opinion, with their throngs of followers from all over creation) and forcing local anti-hunting ordinances into law that chip away slowly but effectively at a sporting heritage that is as old as mankind.

Hunting In New Jersey By The Numbers

According to estimates published by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, sportsmen in our state spend over $1.26 billion dollars annually – supporting 16,905 jobs in New Jersey. Hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and the fees associated with them that contribute to the Pittman-Robertson Act fund all of the wildlife and environmental conservation in the state, and a majority nationwide – and those conservation success stories abound. From whitetail deer (which were once nearly extinct, and are now reaching public health concern levels in many states) to wild turkeys to the American shad to striped bass, there are no shortage of examples of responsible management working. The facts are clear – the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation works, and has been for over a hundred years..

It’s up to hunters, fishermen, trappers, gun owners and shootists of all stripes to come together to protect the sports we love. We are playing dominoes, and if one of these gets knocked down it just gets easier for them to force it straight down the line and into your sport, too.

About the Author

Cody McLaughlin is a vocal activist, noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He is a contributor for the NRA’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum and a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, representing the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena. You can find him on twitter at @mclaugh19