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Sportsmen leaders meet with governor and legislators at Columbus reception
by Larry S. Moore
The US Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) recently held a legislative reception in Columbus. In addition to the USSA, the event was co-sponsored by the Buckeye Firearms Association. Buckeye volunteers attending the event included Linda Walker, Sean Maloney, Aaron Kirkingburg, Austin Force and this author. Also representing gun owners were several members of the Board of Directors of the Ohio Gun Collectors Association, including current President Jim Tekavec.
Sportsmen and conservation leaders from across Ohio converged on Columbus to meet with the legislators to discuss pressing hunting, fishing, trapping and conservation issues critical to the future of Ohio. Governor Kasich and the leadership of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources also attended the event.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody, Governor Kasich made some remarks to the group. The Governor noted the importance of legislators and sportsmen getting together to make their voices heard. Kasich commented, "Our natural resources are fantastic! We have to tell America what we have in Ohio. I don't think people understand all the great assets we have. Ohio is a great place to hunt and fish. There is so much more we can do to promote the outdoors. I see good common sense God-fearing conservative - and I don't mean Republican or Democrat - people here. This is what makes us great. The leadership in all these organizations is fantastic. You bring great joy with the love of all things outdoors but you also bring dollars to our state. That's why we have to reach out. I recently told our ODNR Director Jim Zehringer to think about it. The Lord created the creatures, the forests and the water. He wants it to be protected. The ODNR job is to manage it, ensure it grows and is healthy and successful. We need all your help. Sportsmen are not shy about expressing their views. You shouldn't be. You feel strongly about these things and are a bedrock of our state. I believe in what you are doing and your mission. I love the way you are great Ohioans and Americans. I'm proud to have the opportunity to be your Governor and tell the world what we have in Ohio."
Kasich joked about the Governor's mansion, suggesting it should be used more saying, "I hope we can invite all of you out to the house where I don't live. Maybe this summer we can have a big fish fry, come as you are, bring your spouse, no ties and have a great time."
State Senator Troy Balderson (R- Zanesville), who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, along with State Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), who is the House Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee also address the crowd. Both thanked the sportsmen for their concern for our natural resources and their support. Chairman Hall noted that protecting sportsmen and sporting dog kennels in the recent puppy mill legislation was important.
The reception is a very important meeting to permit the state officials, legislators and sportsmen to meet in an informal environment for the discussion of important issues. It's a time to get to know the legislators and possibly put a face with the name.
Other co-sponsors at the event included: National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever – Ohio State Council, Ohio State Trappers Association, Safari Club International – Central Ohio Chapter, Safari Club International – Southwest Ohio Chapter, Whitetails Unlimited, 21 Consulting LLC, Associated Bird Dog Clubs of Ohio, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Ohio Wildlife Control Operators, Buckeye Brittany Club and Ducks Unlimited.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.