Earth Day? For a Sportsman, That’s Today


Proves camo is the original green.

In 1970, Earthlings were afraid for the future of their home planet. The predictions were dire.:

“In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” — Life magazine

“Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” — Newsweek magazine

“By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter

The future looked so bleak, humans did something about it. They established a global campaign to raise awareness and to take action against the ecological train wreck so many people saw careening down the tracks.

They started Earth Day.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I can see your eyes rolling at the thought of Earth Day. The stereotype of the Earth Day promoter is a long-hair hippie vegan wearing Birkenstock sandals and carrying crystals in his pockets. Not hunters. Not fishers. Not trappers or scuba divers or anyone else who actually spends time in the very outdoors that Earth Day is designed to protect. But that stereotype can’t be any further from the truth. The truth is that the most ardent conservationists, the greenest greenies are camo wearing folks like you.

Unfortunately, Earth Day discussions between the left and the right quickly devolve into political mud-slinging matches, with neither side getting it completely correct. Left-leaning folks are not kooks that would eliminate hunting and fishing in a heartbeat. And right-leaning people are not inherently selfish or mean. We all want the same thing. We all want to clean up our polluted waters, protect and restore our wetlands, to manage our forests and conserve our wildlife habitat.

What Does Earth Day Mean?
To many, Earth Day represents an escape from the pervasiveness of technology, a retreat to an isolated place to recover from life’s stressors, a compulsion to seek the solitude found only in the remotest locations. Sounds a whole lot like many of the reasons we go hunting and fishing, doesn’t it?

Camo is the original green
Outdoor sportsmen actually started their own “green” movement many years before Earth Day by pushing for user fees that send money directly to conservation efforts. In truth, long before the first Earth Day, millions of sportsmen and women advocated for and established the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, which imposed an excise tax of 10 percent on all hunting gear. Then, in 1950 they supported the Dingell-Johnson Act, which did the same for fishing gear. In 1984, the Wallop-Breaux Amendment extended the tax to the fuel for recreational boats.

The result? For the last twenty years or so, sportsmen and women have contributed over 1.5 billion dollars a year towards the Earth Day founders’ goals. As of this year, hunters and fishers have forked over almost $22 billion toward environmental issues. Mountain climbers don’t have to pay those taxes on their harnesses. Hikers don’t have to pay those taxes on their boots. Snow skiers don’t have to pay it on their bindings. Water skiers…you get the hint. It’s just hunters and fishers, and you know what? We don’t mind.

Hunters care for the land. Fishers care for the water. We are the original conservationists. Camo is the original green.

Why We Need Earth Day
We need to recognize that the Earth is interconnected. Sportsmen and women are more attuned to the sensitivity of Earth systems. But many people don’t venture into the woods, don’t look up from their phones or tablets enough to see that when the environment is at risk, so are their lives.

We need Earth Day to remind us that the Earth doesn’t belong to us. We belong to the Earth. We must cherish this planet. People want all the newest electronic do-dads but they don’t realize the cost manufacturing those devices has on the environment. Every day should be Earth Day. We should never take our planet for granted. We should celebrate our home and take every opportunity to enjoy it.


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