Donald J. Trump, Jr. on Firearms, Hunting and Public Lands


Trump Reaches Out to Outdoor Enthusiasts


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Honeycutt: What does hunting mean to the Trump family and what does the term “hunting heritage” signify to you?

Trump, Jr.: "For me, hunting means a lot. It’s about family. I got started in it very young. My grandfather was an electrician from Czechoslovakia and he saw the lifestyle we were living in New York City with my family and all of the good things we had. But he also saw the pitfalls of that and we had a conversation with my father about it. So from a very young age, he took me to what was then a communist Czechoslovakia and he said, 'There’s the woods. I’ll see you at dark.'

It was a new experience and I fell in love with it. I grew older and read every book there was. I looked for mentors and people that would take me out to the woods and teach me a little bit of something. It just meant so much. And since I’ve gotten so into it and it’s become such a big part of my lifestyle, it’s kept me out of so much trouble that I could have gotten into growing up. It was so important because if I was going to be in a duck blind or a treestand at five in the morning, it was going to be a lot harder to be out misbehaving the night before.

I look at it as something that is totally invaluable. The amazing experiences, the relationships I made around the campfire and in hunting camp, those are probably my strongest relationships and the ones that are most lasting. I want to make sure those same opportunities are there for my kids and their kids behind them, as well as everyone else in this country. It’s also the great American hunting tradition. It’s as much a part of America as apple pie as far as I’m concerned.

I love to be able to talk about that now. I love to be very open about it. If I can get another kid into the woods or teach them how to shoot a .22 and teach them the discipline associated with both of those things—whether it be shooting or hunting or even fishing—and get them off of a couch and into the woods or away from a video game, I’m doing the country a major service. And again, I want to make sure this great tradition is around for generations to come, because it was so integral in my life and it continues to be to this day."

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Honeycutt: How do you and your father feel about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation?

Trump, Jr.: "He understands it—as did the great Theodore Roosevelt and many others since then—that hunters and outdoorsmen are the big funders and the big reason we have conservation. I sit on the Boone & Crockett Board as well and I’m probably the youngest guy on there. I understand this model all too well. It’s a thing the anti-hunters don’t want to acknowledge and they refuse to acknowledge. But when you talk to people in terms of what hunters do, you’re joining organizations that support conservation. When you talk about the revenue generated from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, people don’t realize that 90 percent of the state budget as it relates to the DNR are all funded by hunters. They are the ultimate conservationists.

That’s why we have the habitat that we do in this country and we have to protect that at all costs. So there’s no question in my mind that our family understands the North American Model and how it’s worked and why we have hunting and access the way we have.  We want to make sure they are managed correctly.

Our biggest fundamental concern is making sure those lands stay open to the public. They don’t get shut down. They don’t get privatized. Again, my kids, your kids, their kids behind them, can take advantage of the great outdoors in America as we know it. Theodore Roosevelt’s principles all apply to this day. And they had great vision in the days that they enacted all of these things. It’s why you see the abundance of wildlife in many cases flourishing in relation to what it was 100 years ago and it’s all because of hunters and fishermen and the great pains they take to make sure those lands are protected and those animals are protected. The model is well and working and will continue to do so."

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Honeycutt: Public land access is a very important subject to millions of hunters. Would you and your father support the selling off of federally-owned lands? What about the selling off of these lands to the states?

Trump, Jr.: "In many cases, such as in Utah, the state does a lot more. Our concern is not necessarily who’s doing it. I think there should be more input from the states. But they [should] remain public. They have to remain open to access.

What he doesn’t want to do is transfer to the states and them do what they want without any kind of guidelines. All of a sudden you see development sprouting up in places that used to be beautiful habitat for wildlife. We believe there’s a way to have it all. There [are] mines [in Utah] that have been reclaimed and redone and they support some of the greatest sheep herds and elk herds in the state. People say, well, you can’t have both. There’s a way you can actually have both. And you can ensure that public access. But our No. 1 concern again is making sure those lands—whether they’re federally-owned or state-owned—remain open to the public and that they don’t get developed and get pulled away from the hands of outdoorsmen and so those opportunities to get into the field still exist into the future.

That’s our biggest concern because again, what we don’t want to do is see the typical death by a thousands cuts. You make it a little bit harder to buy ammo. You make it a little bit harder to get onto land. We don’t want that.

I’m the first graduate of the Wharton School of Finance to move to Colorado to be a bartender for a year and a half after I graduated from the best business school in the world because I love this lifestyle. I love the great American tradition of being outdoors. I wanted to hunt and fish. And again, I want to make sure those opportunities remain for everyone in the future.

And you do have to make sure that those lands can’t be taken and people [can't] do whatever they want with it and prevent the hunting public from getting on it and making it difficult for those people to access lands. If that happens, there won’t be any more hunting. There won’t be any more fishing. So we have to make sure there’s free, easy, clear, unrestricted access to those lands and waterways as a No. 1 fundamental principle."

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Honeycutt: What is your and your father’s position on the 2nd Amendment?

Trump, J.r.: "Well, my father’s been very vocal about it. He’ll never get enough credit for it. And we understand it’s a controversial topic. Between my father, my brother, myself, my wife, I think we’re four of the 1,500 concealed weapon permits issued in New York City. It’s almost impossible to get. So we’re big believers in the 2nd Amendment. 

My brother and myself, we’re both competitive shooters. I travel all over the country shooting high-powered. I reload for over 100 different calibers myself. And the 2nd Amendment is something incredibly important to us. We can say we back it up in the field. We can back it up with tournament scores. We back it up with rankings.

We love the [different] disciplines. All of them: rifle, shotgun, handgun, all of it. I’m a big archer—both [traditional] and compound as well. So we love it all. We pursue it all. But it means a lot to us. It’s what we do in our free time."

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Trump, Jr.: "It means so much to us. We’re not just talking about this election. We want to make sure people know—and politicians know—that sportsmen will show up [and] they will vote. They want to be heard. And if you cater to them on their issues, they’ll turn [out] for you. They’ll be loyal. Because again, we want to make sure these traditions are preserved for the future. And so, for us, perhaps selfishly, I’m saying I want to make sure this is around for my kids.

So many times I hear it from my friends that are big hunters that say, “Well, I don’t want to mix hunting and politics because I love to hunt and I don’t want to put a tarnish on it.” And I get that. I totally understand it. But if hunters don’t start voicing their opinions and if they don’t start getting out there and talking aggressively, they’re going to lose those opportunities. They’re going to lose their rights because others are sitting there all day, day in and day out, death by a thousand cuts. Whether it be the ammunition restrictions you see. Whether it be gun restrictions. Whether it be access issues.

And it’s going to happen sooner than you think. And for me, I’ve got five young kids. All of them except for the 18-month-old have started shooting. They go fishing all of the time. They get out there with me. I take them on the 3D [archery] range. It’s a big part of our lifestyle and what we do. And I want to make sure that’s there for them forever. You have to rest assured that I’m pretty outspoken about these things. I’m pretty vocal about it. My brother and I will be the voice of reason and the voice in my father’s ear as he’s making these decisions and appointments. And we’re going to make sure that those things are taken care of.

For anyone who wants to see any more, I recommend they check out Sportsmen for Trump."

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SHOT Show has long been an event where like-minded hunting and firearm enthusiasts come together to conduct business and celebrate the outdoor lifestyle. And Realtree has been in attendance for many years.

Well, this year, the Trump family attended the big show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Donald and company made their rounds, stopped by different booths, and even spent some time visiting with the Realtree family on the show floor.

It was then that it became very apparent the Trump family is passionate about hunting and the 2nd Amendment. I recently had the opportunity to ask Donald J. Trump, Jr. about his own outdoor lifestyle and thoughts about the great outdoors.

Here is what he had to say.