Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Hunting Heritage

by Senator Larry Craig

The kids have gone back to school. The air has cooled. The harvest season is drawing to a close, and the trees in the hills are changing colors. Fall has arrived. To many Idahoans, these changes can only mean one thing: It’s hunting season!

The arrival of hunting season is one of the biggest reasons so many Idahoans love the fall. Whether you’re walking through the stubble of a harvested field in search of birds, or waiting in a tree stand for a buck or bull elk, the hunting opportunities in Idaho are among the best in the world. Many sportsmen have known this for decades, but more are discovering this fact every year; the hunting is great in Idaho.

I have a lot of fond memories of hunting in my childhood on the family ranch near South Crane Creek. While I certainly enjoyed the hunt itself, as I’ve grown older, I appreciate even more the opportunities hunting provided me to spend time with friends, close relatives, and most of all, my dad.

Hunting is, by nature, a very social endeavor. Smart hunters always take a companion, and they often work together. Your successes and failures are shared by your partners in the hunt, and many bonds formed on hunting trips last a lifetime.

At the same time, hunting can teach young people extremely valuable lessons about safety and responsibility. Carrying a firearm in the field is not child’s play, and I remember the great sense of duty I felt the first time I carried one. Over the years, this firsthand experience taught me more than I knew about being an adult.

I learned that a conscientiously-used rifle, shotgun, or handgun can be a positive tool. It can help a hunter put food on the table. For ranchers, it can protect the working dogs and the herd.

When necessary, a firearm can protect the law-abiding from the lawless.

Many anti-Second Amendment advocates try to limit the availability of firearms because they either have no experience with, or they greatly discount, the positive benefits of firearm ownership. Most Idahoans’ experiences are vastly different. Most of us grew up hunting or knowing someone who did. We saw people who treated firearms with responsibility and respect, people who followed the law.

Hunting also gave me a greater appreciation for public lands in Idaho. Growing up in a ranching family, I was very familiar with public lands issues as they related to ranchers and those who depend on these lands for a living. As a hunter, however, I developed a much deeper understanding of the value of public lands. Not only did I begin to see the value of access to our national forests, BLM lands and wilderness areas, I began to see that these treasures are used and enjoyed by many different groups. Each of these groups has a different idea about the best use and best management practices. As varied as these wants and needs can be, I know all public lands users agree that Idaho is blessed with natural beauty, and that we all ought to do our best to maintain those blessings.

Hunting season embodies so many of the things that are important to Idahoans, and reveals quite a bit about our values and how they came to be. As long as I remain in the Senate, I will continue to work on firearms, public lands and wildlife issues, so the character of Idaho – rugged, respectful, and self-reliant – will carry on in our children and grandchildren.

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