Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in outdoor and travel markets. A former small-town newspaper editor and reporter, she constantly hunts for news headlines you need to read. Barbara also publishes Women’s Outdoor News online and pens columns for the National Wild Turkey Federation and Shooting Sports USA. Hailing from the Ozarks of Missouri, this avid hunter is now mentoring the second generation of hunters - her own little bevy of Realtree-wearing grandchildren.
From One Woman Hunter to Another: Do Your Homework on the NRA First
You’ve got to hand it to the New York Times to find a pro-gun control hunter to write an Op-Ed piece for its newspaper. Last week, Lily Raff McCaulou penned a poison piece for The Opinion Pages titled “I Hunt, but the N.R.A. Isn’t for Me.” She gave it her best shot, but she needs to pattern her gun, as she completely missed the target.
In her editorial, McCaulou tries to make the point that although the National Rifle Association (NRA) is pro-Second Amendment, it doesn’t do much for hunters. Boy, is she wrong.
We all know that hunting is a privilege, whereas the Second Amendment is a right. And that’s where she does a belly flop off into the deep end of anti-NRA sentiment. McCaulou even makes the egregious error of equating gun control with crime control. She proudly states, "I’m a hunter and a sportswoman. I own guns, but not for self-defense. I support gun control laws. I would happily vote to repeal the Stand Your Ground law in my home state of Oregon. In other words, the N.R.A. does not represent me."
In short, McCaulou seems to oppose the use of firearms by private citizens for purposes beyond her own narrow use in hunting. Throughout the piece, she scatters her entire agenda that covers the waterfront of “progressive” ideals, too: global warming, evil oil companies, sprawling evil human occupation of wildlife habitat. You get the idea.
She writes, “Even if the N.R.A.’s worst nightmare were to come true nationwide — expanded background checks, mandatory waiting periods, limits to the number of guns purchased by an individual per month — hunting could continue as it has for more than a century with rifles and shotguns.”
Such “reasonable” laws have been in effect in the UK for some time. How has that affected hunters across the pond? Well, I lived there in the 1990s. My husband was the commanding officer of the local Royal Air Force Station’s shooting team. With a single phone call, he could summon up machine guns, assault rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. But, when I bought him a vintage double-barrel shotgun so he could hunt hares with some of our friends in the country, the paperwork began … after a visit to our home from the local constable who knew of my husband’s job, but whose task was to ascertain in one sitting whether anyone in our family was crazy, or if we should be allowed to have a vintage, exposed hammer shotgun – and to keep it in the RAF Station armory under lock and key. Whenever my husband wanted to hunt, he had to get permission to get his gun out. And even then, it was only with that one gun. Too bad if he had wanted a gun that held more than two cartridges. That was verboten!
Can you honestly tell me, Ms. McCaulou, you don’t see that coming your way? If not, take another drink of the Koolaid.
But, returning to that “NRA doesn’t do much for hunters” argument, McCaulou writes, “Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that every N.R.A. member is also a hunter — which is highly unlikely, considering that the most comprehensive national survey of firearm ownership to date found that only 35 percent of gun-owning households say they hunt. Even then, the N.R.A. would represent only about one-third of all hunters in the United States.”
One phone call could’ve knocked the steam out of that paragraph. I contacted J.R. Robbins, Managing Editor of NRAHuntersRights.org, and asked him about it. His response? “Eighty percent of NRA members hunt, and after personal protection, hunting is the main reason NRA members own a firearm.” Robbins added that no one he knew received a call from Ms. McCaulou before she wrote the piece.
McCaulou adds, “To hunt, yes, we need guns. We also need wildlife. We need healthy habitat that is protected from development and pollution. We need land that is open and accessible to hunters.”
She’s right about that, but perhaps if she had called, she would have learned that the NRA does support hunters—her included—as well as numerous land-use and conservation efforts. How? Take a look at these facts from the NRA publication “NRA – Fighting for Hunters’ Rights”:
- Preserves motorized access for hunting and game retrieval on federal lands
- Supports “Open Field’ programs that encourage private lands to be opened to the public
- Pass No-Net-Loss legislation for public hunting lands, ensuring that those lands remain available
- Delivers support to programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program
- Supports apprentice hunting license laws and eliminate unnecessary age restrictions that act as barriers to hunting
- Overturned needless bans on Sunday hunting
- Engages in high-profile litigation to ensure that scientific wildlife management prevails over emotional pleas of anti-hunting extremists
- Opposes legislation, regulations and government policies that restrict or prohibit use of traditional ammunition for hunting
- Promotes the use of hunters to reduce over-populated game species in national parks
- Works to keep hunting a priority in the National Wildlife Refuge system
- Protects against attacks on hunters that regulate ownership and use of hunting dogs
- Ensures that hunters may continue to travel freely with their firearms and trophies
- Passing laws in all 50 states prohibiting “hunter harassment”
Robbins added, “Also – her point that a lot of gun owners DO NOT belong to NRA – even if they are not members, the average gun owner in this country learns to shoot from an NRA instructor, shoots on a range that operates under NRA guidelines, follows safety rules written by NRA and was able to buy a gun in the first place because NRA fights for their rights to do so. They may not be members; they just take advantage of everything NRA does.”
From there, McCaulou delves into the usual progressive talking points that don’t have much of anything to do with the NRA, but do further illustrate that she doesn’t bother with research if it doesn’t support her own opinion.
For example, she writes, “If Americans’ hunting traditions are threatened, it isn’t because of bans on rifles and shotguns. The more likely culprit is the oil and gas drilling proposed in the San Juan Mountains of New Mexico — a beloved destination for elk and antelope hunters. Or the devastating effects of global warming on migratory game birds like snow geese and sandhill cranes. Or the fact that thousands of acres of United States farmland — and deer habitat — are lost to sprawling development every day.”
She’s pouring it on now. Snow geese are at such record high numbers that they’re destroying their own nesting grounds. And there are likely more deer here now than at any time in recorded history. Could part of the reason be that human sprawl into rural areas has created the mosaic of small wood lot and field habitat that whitetails prefer? Quite a few biologists think so.
It’s obvious Ms. McCaulou had her mind made up and was focused on politics when she penned this piece. Maybe she would’ve changed her attitude had she educated herself on the facts of the NRA and its work for hunters ahead of time.