It was a great honor to have been elected President of the League of Ky Sportsmen for 2015-16, at our recent convention in Louisville. I am both humbled and excited to serve the fine sportsmen, sportswomen, and youth who participate in hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities in our state. We are fortunate to have the finest outdoor resources of any state in the Union and we need to continue to protect them.
80 years ago, a group of wise forward thinking individuals banded together with an idea to help conserve the diminishing resources in KY. They formed LKS and moved forward with a strong agenda to preserve our resources and our rights. They successfully lobbied the legislature to have the Ky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife removed from the normal hierarchy of state government to become its own entity. They fought to remove its funding from the General Fund and the whim of politicians, and to be a self sustaining agency, funded by hunting and fishing licenses, and matching taxes. Note that this was in 1935, prior to television, internet, cellphones, and social media. Telephones were only available in metropolitan areas. Yet, somehow these individuals were able to have the foresight, skills, and most of all, the determination to preserve our hunting and fishing heritage for their children and grandchildren.
Now today, we live in a world of instant information, and unfortunately instant gratification. We forget the battles that those before us fought to allow us the opportunities that we have today. Everyone should note that we are now living “ in the good old days”! Kentucky’s deer and elk herd is the envy of the nation. Our fishing resources are among the best in the world. It appears that small game is on the rebound. Many of us remember the days when if we saw a deer track, it was the highlight of a hunt. Now we have those who are only interested in a 160 class buck or a 10 lb bass. We need to return to the joy of just being outdoors, enjoying our time afield, and teaching our kids and grandkids how to have fun!
One big difference however between now and then, is the level of opposition to the sport and lifestyle that we love so much. In 1935 there were anti-hunters and anti-gun folks, but they were very limited and had very little influence. Move ahead to today however, and sportsmen are under attack every day. Our opponents are well organized, banded together, and very well funded. Witness the attacks on our sport last year in Maine, Michigan, and Minnesota if you have any doubt. However, while our opponents band together, work in well coordinated campaigns together, sportsmen have become splintered and tend to work for their own preferred outdoor activity. When LKS was founded in 1935, most of the current outdoor groups and organizations were not in existence. Ky sportsmen joined LKS to have a voice with the KDFWR and the legislature. As time has progressed, sportsmen have gravitated to their own groups. However, as the legendary Fred Bear said “if you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy hunting”. I will tell you as strongly as I can, that LKS fights groups such as HSUS and PETA every year when they introduce new legislation in Frankfort to limit your hunting and fishing rights. It is time for all sportsmen to reassert themselves and help fight these attacks.
LKS is NOT IN COMPETITION with all of these other sporting groups. LKS is NOT HOSTING FUNDRAISING BANQUETS in your area. LKS is NOT SOLICITING YOUR VENDORS OR MEMBERS. LKS is here to support all of these clubs and step to their aid and assistance when necessary. I myself am a member of QDMA, DU, RMEF, etc. All of these other outdoor groups do wonderful work and are a very important and valued entity in the outdoors community, but we must come together as our opponents do to defend our rights to hunt, fish, and own weapons.
It is time for the bickering and infighting between sportsmen’s groups to come to an end. We must realize that we are all in this together and that we need to represent a singular voice and presence when we walk into the halls of the Legislature. You may not be a trapper, or a houndsman, or a waterfowler, or deer hunt over feeders, hunt with crossbows, etc, but we must ALL be prepared to fight for their rights to do so, as your particular passion may be the next one under attack. We need to realize that we are not in competition with each other, but we all share a much larger and formidable opponent in the anti-hunting forces. Note that sport fishing is also becoming a target of the “anti’s” and more proposed legislation is being done annually to limit those opportunities.
I would encourage you to seek out a local LKS affiliated club and join and support those local clubs. Grass roots organizations are the strength of any group. By joining one of those clubs, you will become a member of LKS. If you have no clubs near you and want to join LKS, just go to www.kentuckysportsmen.com and join. Another option is to form your own club and join as a group. It only takes 15 members to become an affiliated LKS club, with voting rights, etc. I know some hunt clubs that have that many members. We have statewide affiliates such as QDMA, Quail Forever, UBK, DU, KY Trappers Association, Kentucky Taxidermy Association, that you can join as well. If you need any further information on how to join or affiliate, just contact us through the website and we will have someone local to your area contact you.
President, LKS, 2015-16