How has hunting changed in the United States since yesteryear–and why? Whether private or public lands, is it as easy to gain access? And how does the increasingly non-hunting public view hunters and hunting? Award-winning writer, public speaker and recurring FOX News guest, Gabriella Hoffman and I race through a list of ongoing need-to-know topics from right here in our back yard: roadkill legislation, banning hunting dog events, how the famously publicized Hollywood Buck influences public perceptions, defunding hunter- and firearm-related wildlife management, using no-tox ammo and green energy to marginalize hunter access, net-zero agenda and much more. Is it a red versus blue state thing? Simply a sign of times, or by design? And what can you do about it? Listen, decide, and let us know your thoughts.

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Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to MOJO’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast, where today we are going to talk all things conservation and hunting, pro hunting, pro conservation, a little bit more the political scale, because let’s face it, at the end of the day, who cares what all we’re yelling at each other about on the Internet? If it ain’t happening up on Capitol Hill, it ain’t happening, right? Joining me today is Gabriella Hoffman, who is an award winning writer, a podcast host, district of conservation. She’s involved with several groups in the hunting and conservation advocacy circle. Gabby, how the heck are you today?

Gabriella Hoffman: It’s good to be back on your show, Ramsey. I’m sorry we couldn’t connect to SCI. It was a busy show, busy trade show, of course. But I’m happy to talk about the latest, greatest, concerning all of the above as it relates to conservation policy, 2024 is starting off to be a pretty interesting year and we here in North America, especially in the United States have to look out to see what’s happening, not only in the halls of Congress, but even in state legislatures and also following what’s happening in elections too.

Ramsey Russell: SCI convention is an absolute madhouse as an exhibitor and as a participant. It is, absolutely, I’ve heard it said and I’ve not heard a better description than it is the super bowl of all outdoor hunting conventions.

Gabriella Hoffman: It really is.

Ramsey Russell: For years, I would push myself and get to the booth at 07:00 in the morning and record a podcast before the door’s opened at 09:00 or 10:00 and those days are gone. It’s just we literally, the late Hank Burdine used to talk about working out in the fields from can to cannot and that’s kind of how we go at it with SCI and I love every minute of it. It’s just the perfect day to me at convention is I’ll get to the booth and the doors open at 10:00 and I’m sitting there right off the bat, people are coming in or I’m talking at a seminar and people are coming in and we’re talking and engaging and I look at my watch and 20 minutes later and it’s already 04:00. And this year at 05:00 when the show ended, we just about every day we still had people sitting at the table talking. I mean, it was off the chain and I know that everybody on the floor, people like yourself, everybody I know that is active, are employed by SCI. There’s zero chance of talking to them because we’re all so engaged and going on so hard at it. What takes you to SCI? Just the engagement and meeting everybody in these circles?

Gabriella Hoffman: Well, when I went to the first show last year and I’ve been a member for several years, actually, people don’t know that, but I’m involved as a member. I’ve been involved in the past in DC and also Northern Virginia because I care deeply about these issues and defending the hunting way of life. So when I went to my first convention last year, where you and I officially connected, I went primarily for my work, at the time it was a fellowship. Now it’s one of my main gigs as a director of Independent Women’s Forum, Center for Energy and Conservation, kind of as an exploratory kind of show just to catch up with people, make some inroads, make some context. This year I actually switched up a bit and how I’ve been involved in the outdoor industry as your listeners may recall, I’ve done a lot in outdoor media. So I kind of went back to my outdoor media roots to kind of separate my work from my freelance media coverage and go as press because I had only that Friday and Saturday to go because I had a lot of commitments back here in the DC area for my job. The aforementioned position I mentioned, so I was able to go as press and do that for a change, which is great. I mean, I love attending these trade shows whether it’s for work or as a press member, it just depends what the demands are of the year or the event or the date and it’s a lot of fun. I can’t complain, so I had to pack my schedule. We were trying to arrange a time to record this in person, but I’m always privy to do it even outside of the show and post show, post convention. And so for me, I had a lot of commitments or like, people I was trying to reach. So I was able to fill my time with interviews off the cuff or kind of prescheduled interviews and events. So I went to a lot of adjacent events like the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation reception, wanting to get a policy update. I was able to reconnect with some colleagues and policy people I know from CSF, I went to their most recent NASC summit. It’s going to be held in Louisiana at the end of the year, a little before thanksgiving, great group. They also do great work to supplement what SCI does. And then I went to, like, the bar stool outdoors party, that wasn’t something I was covering, but they’re like, you should go some of the people who are handling media credentials were like, we would love to tab you come. I’m like, sure, great. So to kind of, like, let off some steam and go there, too. Then I went to the Women’s Mix and Mingle. So I had, like, events that I had to be at or that I wanted to be at. And then I would center, let’s say, interviews around the pockets of free time I had around the events I had commitments to. So I was able to do a vlog where I was able to interview some exhibitors that I know, friends of friends, things of that sort and then also talk to people I know who are very influential but who may not get a lot of coverage. They’re known as social media influencers, a couple of them, but they’re not like the celebrities that you often think of when you go to SCI or they weren’t like the SCI celebrities that are often kind of promoted across social media. But these are very good conservationists, up and comers or people who’ve been established but are really going to break out more. So I wanted to speak to them and get their assessment of what the show is like for them, what they hope for 2024, their kind of thoughts on the future of the hunting industry and then I also was able to supplement this vlog piece with writing kind of a more political bent or political column rather about my observations from some of the events that I went to where there were politicians or kind of look to see, like, what happened after the fact for events I wasn’t able to go to but still had some politics in nature. I got to catch up with the Natural Resources chairman, Bruce Westerman, who is an avid hunter, a waterfowler from my understanding, forester, trained forester, a big sportsman’s advocate and he gave some keynote remarks, he’s one of the co chairs of the Congressional Sportsman Caucus and hear from other lawmakers who were also in attendance or see them, even if I couldn’t talk to them. So I covered the non political aspects of the show, the political aspects of the show and I love being able to go, like I said, either as press or as an attendee. Just depends on what the demands are, where I’m at in my schedule and kind of just balancing things out. And now I’m at a place professionally where I can choose do I go as an attendee or do I go as media?

Ramsey Russell: I found my tribe at SCI. I initially went to SCI a long time ago as an exhibitor because it’s a big hunting show, but I really found my tribe. There’s so many people and the name evokes images of Marlin Perkins and elephant hunting and stuff like that, but it’s really not. It’s like every single person on the floor, no matter what kind of hunt they’re buying or shopping for while they’re there, every single one of them can relate to small game hunting. They were all little boys one time or girls one time with a pellet rifle or a small bore shotgun, hunting ducks and squirrels and something like that. And so every single person on that floor I feel like I can have a conversation with about something, about life and I really, truly enjoy. That’s probably one of my favorite, certainly my favorite non hunting week of the year is going to this convention. And of course there’s something for everybody. Like, you’re talking about some of these events. I’m usually hanging out with boring people, talking about hunts and eating dinner, trying to wind down and get my mind right for the next day. But at the same, I felt I’ve fallen off into the seminar and I love to get up and I’ll talk for 10 or 15 minutes, maybe introduce myself and then I just try to walk in front of the podium and do questions and answers and I love that. I love engaging with my people, I love doing that. And so where are you today? Every time I look, I follow you in social media and you’re all over Gabby. I mean, you’re talking to college crowds you’re on Fox News, you’re everywhere. It’s like, golly, this lady travels all the time. So where are you today?

Gabriella Hoffman: Well, as you can tell from my background, I’m currently home, you’ve caught me at a time when I’m actually not traveling and I learned after traveling a lot last year that I need to space up my travel more so I don’t get certain travel related ailments. I suffered from eustachian tube dysfunction last year, it was not fun. I had to go to a clinic in Alaska. It wasn’t life threatening or anything of that sort, but I had a reality check to be like, okay, I need to space up my travel and certainly my commitments for work demand that I travel. But I’m learning how to balance better. I’ve taken certain remedies and different precautions now to ensure that my health is also good when I travel, because you do have to take care of yourself. But, yes, right now, I am situated at home. I’ve been doing a lot kind of following as it relates to your show and conservation, what is happening across the country. So I’m looking at my backyard, I see that a lot of like outdoor recreation bills and a couple, I would say, big piece items for conservation are starting to come down the pike. Congress is pretty gridlocked right now, so it’s going to be really hard for outdoor recreation to make any footprint or any dent in legislation this year because there are other issues that are obviously occupying members of Congress right now. But you should also be looking to – And something I’m looking to right now is what is happening in the state. So closer to home in Virginia, this is actually something that started to trend recently. We have a bill in Virginia to reform how you are able to salvage roadkill. I haven’t eaten roadkill before.

Ramsey Russell: Roadkill, wow.

Gabriella Hoffman: So right now, if only if a driver has hit roadkill, specifically bear and white-tailed deer, only they, with the permission of a CPO, when you report this, that’s the only time or circumstance you’re allowed to take roadkill home. Now, if this bill that is making its way through our general assembly, which is our state legislator were to pass. It already had unanimous support in the House of Delegates which is our House of Representatives here in Virginia got like a 98 to zero vote. I expect it to cruise through the state senate, hopefully reach our senator or our governor’s desk, excuse me and possibly become law and this would make it so, not only bear and white-tailed deer, but turkey and elk, we have elk in Virginia, in 3 counties that comprise our Elk Management Zone. So only elk in the southwestern portion of Virginia would count here, but it would also, so it applied to four species and then also to non-drivers who see roadkill on the road, on the side of the road. So they would be able to pick it up, I believe, through a permitless system. I didn’t see anything in the bill’s language that would make you apply for a permit if it goes out of hand, maybe they’ll implement it, I’m not sure. But right now, it would be a permitless kind of process where you can pick up these 4 wildlife species, roadkill during non hunting seasons, even and you not being a driver as well. So that’s something I’m looking to hear, in Virginia, there’s always the kind of controversies about hunting with dogs, especially as it relates to right to retrieve. That’s a perennial problem here in Virginia and there’s always kind of a balance demanded, obviously to respect property rights, but also to respect people to be able to do these timeless activities. I recently had a acquaintance of mine talk about this very interesting subject. Like I said, that goes back to the founding and establishment of Virginia, since there is a long storied hunting heritage here. So that’s also been kind of an issue that people are following here, this kind of debate over how do you strike a balance between property rights and right to retrieve. So a lot is happening in Virginia, but a lot is happening even further west of us, west of the Mississippi and I think we have talked about this before, but you look to the western states, Colorado, Washington state, California, Arizona even. A handful of these states are really at a crossroads over the future of conservation funding, future of hunting, largely because they’ve been debating over whether or not there should be, mostly because of governors appointing commissioners who don’t really embody the hunting way of life, the conservationist way of life. So you see these kind of appointments in Washington state and more recently in Colorado state and even ballot measures in both of these states that are possibly going to be remaking what the future of conservation looks like, does it include hunters and anglers or does it include hikers, bikers, campers, animal rights advocates? So we see these states are at a crossroads and the future of conservation funding, this conservation way of life potentially being in jeopardy. And there are great people on the ground in both of those states in particular who are fighting to keep this way of life and we can go more into detail as to what that is, but you have to look to the states to see what’s happening –

Ramsey Russell: Who are the people, I got to back up just a second, because who are the people that are bringing roadkill legislation to the table? I don’t know where to even start with that topic, that we live in the wealthiest country in the world and people need to eat roadkill or that we need to make laws so that somebody can clean up the highways and eat whatever the heck they want to, it’s dead anyway, somebody’s going to have to clean it up. Why do we need to have a law? But what does it say about our country that –

Gabriella Hoffman: I know that you have to create a lot of –

Ramsey Russell: There’s a demand for roadkill related protein. That’s crazy, that’s one of the craziest things that’s not up on my radar in a while.

Gabriella Hoffman: It is. But I just learned, I had no idea this, but this makes sense. So our department of transportation here in Virginia, if nobody claims the roadkill, it just goes to the landfill. Talk about a waste of wild game meat and I believe in Mississippi, it’s the same like in Virginia. But we have, let’s say you don’t, you’re skeptical of the meat, maybe you’re worried about damage to organs or other premium cuts of meat or what have you, you can donate that meat to hunters for the hungry. There’s going to be some processor in your state who will know how to handle a process, take out bad parts, keep good parts and salvage that meat if you’re unsure. So even if you yourself don’t want it, but let’s say you claim it and I don’t know how this will work with this new reform bill, but I wonder if there’s a provision, if it’s like, okay, I want to claim it, I do more assessment, I see that the meat is not salvageable or maybe I don’t know how to handle the meat. Is there the option where you can then take it to a processor or hunters for the hungry and then let them take care of it? Maybe there will be some sort of clarification on that. But so much roadkill or perfectly good meat as long as it’s not totally damaged because there is a lot of impact.

Ramsey Russell: Perfectly good meat. That definition changes around the world and I learned that 25, 30 years ago in Mississippi when I was running Latin American tree planting crews. We were planting, I don’t know, a 500 or 600 acre property that had a public road, the county road, running right through the middle of it and all my little tree planters out there planting their trees for penny and a half apiece in that heavy buckshot mud. And I’m running trees back and forth trying to keep up with them and all of a sudden, they start yelling, venado. And all of them stick their shelves or plant bars and start running to this guy yelling, venado, which means deer in Espanola. And I get there and there was a deer that had apparently been shot. I mean, it was January, it was cool weather and almost there was a dead buck laying there that apparently had been shot. He’s about 150 yards off the road, he’d been shot at night. Nobody found him, he was just sitting there dead and he’d been dead a while, I mean his eyes were sunk back in and he’d been there a good long while. Almost like he’d been there a week, 10 days. And they took their little scissors and pocket knives and what they trimmed the roots with on those hardwood seedlings and they trimmed that buck down to nothing but bone and sinews. I mean, they skinned that thing so quick and they loaded their shirts and they loaded their planting bags and they walked back to the truck and loaded and I just learned a lesson that you see these beautiful presentations of how the American sportsman and around the world prepares meat from field to plate and all the trimming and all the perfection and all the freshness and it ain’t that way around the world. And we were talking before the show that you don’t live in DC because of the crime and you live off in Virginia –

Gabriella Hoffman: Who has better the habitat loss too.

Ramsey Russell: But it, you want to talk about a melting pot of humanity. Gosh, every country in the world must be represented right there on the outskirts of DC. It’s so many cultures, it’s a true melting pot of international flavors right there in DC. But it just never flew up on my radar, roadkill law that they would be discussed in the state legislature about making use of roadkill. That’s crazy.

Comparing Roadkill Laws Across States.

I believe there are other states that have this provision, I’ve heard out west they do in Montana, I think in Wyoming as well.

Gabriella Hoffman: It really is. But it’s a need that this bill sponsor recognized and he’s from, I think, a more rural part of Virginia, where he probably got a lot of complaints from constituents about this kind of build up of roadkill on the side of the road just languishing there and not being used and so I think he came up with this idea, maybe looking maybe to our neighbors in West Virginia. I don’t know if any other state. I believe there are other states that have this provision, I’ve heard out west they do in Montana, I think in Wyoming as well and I have to see if – And go back to see if West Virginia has this. I feel like West Virginia would have this, Kentucky possibly too, Appalachia definitely would permit this kind of thing, because people are very creative with meat all around and they wouldn’t let roadkill go to waste. So this is not out of the ordinary and anecdotally speaking, I’ve seen so much roadkill in Virginia and I’ve always wondered, like, what if I could pick this up? Because right now I wouldn’t be able to, like I said, because I didn’t hit the animal in question and I don’t want to hit the animal in question. I’m always very scared of hitting a deer, because I like my car, I don’t want my insurance to rise. And I want to make sure, like the animal goes freely, there’s no conflict between us and that’s a scenario I never want to envision that I have to do. But you just let them run as long as you’re careful and aware of your surroundings. But some people are not lucky and they have totaled cars. I’ve had friends and I’ve seen people I used to work with have collisions with deer and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s a horrible situation to be in most of the time the people come out okay a few scratches, but that could be a lethal situation if you’re not careful. I, heaven forbid someone behind the wheel were to die with a collision with the deer. But if you are thankfully not in the position of injuring yourself and you want to take that or like I said now with this reform bill, people just not wanting to let the meat languish there. I mean, you could leave it there because you, I’ve seen a lot of, like, turkey vultures come and peck at the meat, we want to keep that life cycle of having nature’s custodians come and eat the meat, too, let’s leave some for them as well. But I think with how expensive meat is, I don’t see why not people, looking for alternatives, not to say like you’re freeloading off of others in any sense, but if you want to get creative with salvaging game meat, I don’t see anything wrong with this in particular. I think it’s an interesting thing and maybe it’ll get people to not be so afraid of trying game meat or finding creative ways to try it for the first time or get more acquainted with it. So I welcome this as a Virginia hunter and conservationist, I think this is really cool. So I’m excited to track it and see what those are.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I like to see wise use. And I’m sitting here thinking it sounds like a grand, a huge opportunity for somebody listening to have a social media influence or presence about roadkill to table. That sounds like just a huge opportunity to me to have a sensational YouTube or Instagram channel about picking up roadkill and converting it to delectable menu. Who are the second thing I want to ask is who are the people? I’ve heard about it out west especially, but how would you describe the people that are advocating these laws or legislating the use of dogs in hunting because it’s not just running deer or running bear with hounds or lions, it’s fetching ducks. There are people out there that believe that I’m abusing Char dog and that dog lives just like all these, everybody listening has a dog that lives, that wakes up and just can’t wait until to go fetch his next duck or goose. Who are these people that are pushing this kind of legislation?

Gabriella Hoffman: It’d be the same people who are attacking hunting in general if we’re talking broadly speaking. I’ve seen this legislation for many years where it’s about keeping dogs outside during winter. If they’re huskies or they’re bred for sporting conditions in the wintertime, they go after them in terms of keeping them tethered on a rope outside, even though the dogs are safe and there’s nothing to worry about and then there’s also these other companion bills to ban sporting dog trials, to ban the use of dogs and like you said, from everything from waterfowl to chasing mountain lions and bears and all that type of stuff. I haven’t partaken, so much in, like, let’s say, hunting with dogs involving bears or predators. But I have gone upland bird hunting and waterfowl hunting where there are dogs. But it’s these people who probably don’t have pets, maybe they have some envy over the relationship between hunters and sporting dogs and they think that these animals are in an abusive relationship, but they forget that they’re not just being used for hunting activities, these are also members of your family. Dogs are integral to families or to individuals and they just don’t understand the dynamic and they think everything is abuse and everything is torture when the opposite is true, unless there’s actual animal cruelty involved. Most of the time it’s largely exaggerated when it comes to sporting dogs and this, like, everyone, is very keen on the well being of the animal, the dog in particular. And they’re not engaging in animal abuse whatsoever, they’re feeding these dogs, they’re giving them love, they’re giving them attention. And so I think that’s where it largely emanates from the same people who believe in incrementally banning hunting are also placing this misplaced priority or misplaced attention to this when they can actually care about real questions regarding animal welfare. But they don’t care about animal welfare. They care about animal rights, which in their mind, should supersede human rights and now they also want to assign animals human rights, which is preposterous to even think that could even be a feasible kind of thing in the future. But we are seeing this movement to place animals over humans or nature over humans and that type of thinking is very antithetical to conservation, where you have kind of both on an equal footing.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a very interesting rabbit hole you climb down when you start getting into the head of animal rights. And it’s a fringe lunacy mindset and I’ve been to Australia several times and have tried to meet and to engage at the boat ramp or somewhere, anti-hunters to the extent that I literally sat on a street corner with a sign begging a conversation, hunting is conservation. Nobody wants to talk about it on social media, they attack you to a point. Their ammo is always the same. Do you ever have any dealings with anti-hunters and with people like that jumping on you in social media or around the Internet, the way some of the topics you bring to subjects have to combat them?

Gabriella Hoffman: Like anyone else engaged in this industry, no matter the level, I think we all have to expect that we’re going to be encountering people who may be well intentioned but are very misguided. And I occasionally get some trolls on my social media and they engage in very kind of dishonest behavior, so I have to block them. Others are maybe misunderstood, what is really funny to me, I can understand if you’re a vegan, vegetarian holding these viewpoints. I do not get people who eat meat or buy meat from the grocery store who have these very hostile and anti hunting views. Like, I can expect a vegan or vegetarian because that’s just how they’ve been bred to think or accustomed to think. But someone who was viscerally anti hunting, anti fishing even, but yet gets their meat from the grocery store, thinks all meat emanates from this, like, third party place, like a grocery store, even though it could come from a farm or it could be sourced from a ranch or what have you or in the case of hunting, directly from the field or from the waters, if you’re talking about fishing. So every one of us has to encounter this and those who engage in good faith discussion might be worth having a debate over. I’ve had some good, actually, interactions with a couple people over, let’s say, big 5 hunting in Africa, which I personally don’t do, but I understand the arguments in favor of it from a management standpoint. So I’ve had some actually good interactions over that. If it’s someone just purposely trolling, they’re not worth engaging with, they’re not going to change their mind. But we have this kind of situation to deal with and we always hear this conversation about 5% of the population in the United States is very pro hunting, 5% or maybe 10% is pro hunting, 10% is anti hunting. And then you have 80% in the middle who just don’t really think strongly one way or another, the undecideds or those who you can convince. And so there’s an opportunity and yet there is also public support, I would say, in different polling from Suffolk Associates and similar entities, the resource management that also poll attitudes. For the most part, if it’s portrayed well, hunting is generally positively received by the public. I’ve seen different polling time after time. The only thing, the only form of hunting rather that gets a lot of negative attention is when a so called trophy hunt is perceived to be the domineering type of hunting. But even among hunters, there’s a debate over what is trophy hunting, is it the big 5? Is it a predator? Is it charismatic, megafauna, like a cougar, a grizzly bear, something bigger, more cuddly, more disneyfied or is it something as simple as like a duck could be your trophy or a white tailed deer could be your trophy? So we have this debate over what is a trophy and I think over social media, too. We have this discussion like, are we only showing grip and grins or are we showing all of the process, the behind the scenes, not just the kill shot but the field dressing portion, the post hunting and field dressing portion, maybe the taxidermy comes back of the rug or of the – let’s say the deer mount, of the antler, the head, things of that sort. There are perceptions about hunting, I think they are being generally shed and debated and discussed and bad incidents, however, do come into the conversation. We had a case here in Virginia, I’m sorry to point to Virginia, but we had some interesting stuff transpire here. One of the most famous white-tailed bucks –

Ramsey Russell: Oh, boy, I saw this. Talk about this, Gabby.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yeah. This untypical buck, I believe, is a 29 point, it just fed on a cemetery in Richmond, which is our capital here in Virginia.

Ramsey Russell: Hollywood Buck.

Gabriella Hoffman: The Hollywood Buck. Beautiful specimen, gorgeous deer. I’ve never seen it in person, I’ve seen the social media postings of the avid photographers. These are even people who don’t go hunting, but they were so fond of this deer. Hunters were very fond of this deer, it was residing in a portion of Richmond, the cemetery was off limits to hunting. Richmond City, you can hunt in certain portions, but not in downtown, it’s like strictly forbidden. There’s obviously public areas where you’re not going to be able to go hunting. So there’s this poacher who claimed that he got this huge, untypical buck in his county in Virginia, which was about 70 miles, I believe, southwest or northwest of Richmond. And good sleuths on social media looked over, cross examined what the deer was and its points and they’re like, dude, you got the Hollywood Buck, there’s no way you got this in your county. Just cross referencing the pictures and his picture and it turns out he traveled 70 miles to go to Richmond because of just how easily spottable this deer was, whether it resided in the cemetery, where there’s a lot of nourishment. Cemeteries are interesting places full of nutrients and I think that’s why the deer just had this very elaborate spread of tines, I think that’s why it blossomed like that and grew like that, a lot of calcium. Not feeding on dead people, of course, but just the nutrients that are supplanted by people buried in the cemetery, I think. The biologist would know better than me, but my understanding in reading into it is like, it’s probably a very nutrient dense area, these cemeteries and also it was going to this other kind of like, historic landmark, kind of similar to how you would treat a national park. So this was an off limits region to hunting in general. Nobody is able to hunt there, but this poacher thought, oh, it’d be so clever, I can score social media points, harvest this buck, claim victory and he sent it to this big hunting Facebook page in Virginia who, unbeknownst to them, upon first reading, was like, oh, this is interesting and then when they posted the pictures, 3 pictures of the deer, the Hollywood Buck, a lot of people responded to and they said, excuse me, this is the Hollywood Buck that resides in an area of Richmond, the capital of Virginia, that is off limits to hunting. So he poached and then our Virginia CPO’s, our Department of Wildlife Resources, quickly acted. They began an investigation and I think over the course of a couple of weeks, they quickly were able to pinpoint where this was occurring. They were able to match the dots and figure out that this was actually a poaching incident and from there, they were able to charge the guy and he had a couple accomplices and this wasn’t the only deer that he poached. He poached 2 other deer, not in this exact area, but one around Richmond city limits or kind of county limits in a county surrounding Richmond and then somewhere else in the vicinity of this kind of like, capital region of Richmond and was swiftly charged. And he should be hopefully facing some stiff penalties, but going back to your point about perceptions of hunting, when these incidents occur, I’m not saying they’re going to tumble us as an industry and as a movement, but they could be used against us and say, wow, this guy was claiming to behave in good faith, but he’s a hunter and we have to step back and say, sorry, no, this is not sportsman behavior. He was a poacher, he’s not a hunter.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Gabriella Hoffman: So we have to go on the defensive, unfortunately, in these cases and still point out that this is not –

Ramsey Russell: That 80%, big gray area of agnostic Americans don’t know the difference.

Gabriella Hoffman: Sometimes they don’t know.

Ramsey Russell: All they know is a guy with a gun shot something, and how do you spell out that? We know the difference is hunters, but they don’t and I didn’t think about that. My dealings with anti hunters I say they’re crazy. And here’s the point I’m building up to is, man, these folks, first off, their ammo is mob and they like some accounts better than others. I know the reason I asked you, Gabby, is because they tend to really mob up on females.

Gabriella Hoffman: They do.

Ramsey Russell: And it’s been my experience. But, boy, I got mobbed up on, I guess they just thought they could overwhelm me, dozens of them at a time and it’s just like you see those videos where a crowd just stomps one particular person and that’s what they do, this mob mentality. They won’t argue, they will argue. But if they go in one direction and you try to pin them, they veer to another and it’s like trying to put your hands on a greased pig. It just ain’t going to happen and all they’re doing is trolling you and getting you going. But most of them have blocked accounts where they’re complete anonymity. The professionals, the career trollers and anti hunting have blocked accounts. But every now and again, you find one that’s not and a lot of them, this blows my mind, a lot of them have cats. I remember one lady that was just absolutely wearing me out, I looked at her account and the picture on her account is 15 house cats and house cats account for billions, billions of small game deaths a year. Yes, but she’s against hunting. She’s not against her cats going out and killing contributing to the death of billions of animals that aren’t being used because she loves them. But she disagrees with me going out and shooting ducks. And that just, my favorite of all time, I don’t know if I’ve told this story or not, but my favorite of all time recently was this guy was just, man, he was fully committed. He was in the trenches, bayonet to bayonet, he was going tooth and nail fighting his point on my page and I clicked his account and it wasn’t blocked and he was an Elvis impersonator and that changed everything for me because I started calling him Prez. And I’ve learned don’t get to their level, they want to get you to their level, they want to get you po’d and going at him hard and if you just can’t handle the heat, block them. But if you can, just keep referring to him. Dear misses so and so, dear mister so and so and arguing a valid point.

Gabriella Hoffman: And be polite. Kill them with kindness.

Ramsey Russell: Well because really and truly, you’re not speaking to them. You’re speaking to everybody else that’s watching and reading this account. But the Elvis impersonator, I just couldn’t help myself, I kept calling him Prez and hinting that he ought to sing his argument in blue suede shoes and he finally blocked his account and got the heck off a dodge, agreed to disagree that that would have been one of my favorite, but they’re, I think they’re crazy, I do have a telephone number from Australia of one that called me.

Gabriella Hoffman: Oh, boy.

The Irony of Anti-Hunters Fighting Each Other.

He starred into me again and started talking about crocodiles and kangaroos and all these different protected animals. I go, I’m not shooting those, I’m shooting ducks.

Ramsey Russell: Called and blessed me out and then hung up. Well, I called him back and on the fourth ring, he answered. What? What do you want? I said, well we got disconnected, so I thought I’d call you up. And boy, he starred into me again and started talking about crocodiles and kangaroos and all these different protected animals. I go, I’m not shooting those, I’m shooting ducks. Click. He hung up again and I sent him a few texts since I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do with this telephone number, shit, I put it online in the fever pitch of things when I was getting attacked by what seemed like thousands of them at the time. It occurred to me to just yell at him in all cap and say screw you, talk to me like a man. Call me up on my Australian number. It occurred to me to post this guy’s number up in public to see if, I just thought it’d be hilarious, thought that an anti hunter would call him up cussing and he’s an anti hunter, too. What do you do with people? But they’re crazy, they’re unhinged. And what they won’t do and can’t do and will not do is come onto a podcast or sit down across a coffee table and have a civilian discussion.

Gabriella Hoffman: No, it just animates them in hatred and I think they’re afraid of potentially learning more and being exposed, maybe for their kind of, perhaps I wouldn’t say backwards thinking, but I think they’re afraid that they would be challenged and then possibly forced to change their perspective on hunting. That’s what I think the fear is in terms of debating or a lack thereof, they’re afraid that they’re going to be called wrong, that they would be exposed to different viewpoints and then potentially, there is this opportunity where their perspective on the topic could change, because you make a very convincing case arguing that hunting does this. And here’s where you’re wrong, but it’s okay that you were misinformed here and you can always learn and grow and I think they’re just afraid to be challenged and wrong. That’s usually just how it is.

Ramsey Russell: They cuss like a lot of duck hunters in a blind after end of season and they love to sling names at everybody. They have a penis obsession because that’s their argument.

Gabriella Hoffman: Very vulgar.

Ramsey Russell: Anybody that hunts. Yeah, very vulgar. But they just will not come on and have an argument or a discussion and at the end of the day, here’s my point. Somebody asked me one time, why do you want to hear from them? Why would you dare let an anti hunter come on your podcasts? I’m like, well, because at the end of the day, forget our differences and let’s look at the similarities. They want more ducks and I want more ducks and with the amount of habitat loss we’re losing in the United States and worldwide, let’s face it, 2/10th of a percent American waterfowl hunters or North American waterfowl hunters is what we comprise of the population, 2/10th of a percent our time and money is not enough to turn the tide on habitat loss. So hey, here’s somebody that wants ducks as badly as me, maybe we can agree to disagree on what we disagree on, but work together for habitat conservation. But that’s not where they want to go. It has nothing whatsoever to do with putting their time and money anywhere other into trolling hate on the Internet and that’s what drives me crazy. But you mentioned previously, now we’re coming back completely full circle, but you mentioned previously about the disassociation and the defunding of conservation in America, because you started talking about Colorado and here, we go and I’m going to throw it back at you about some of this defunding stuff because we’re not talking Democrats, Republicans city folks and not or antis versus us. We’re talking, man, there’s all kinds of forces to wanting to defund this. But I do know that whereas in Australia and places like that, it’s a very conspicuous at the boat ramp, anti hunting vibe going on. But here in North America, it’s more like carbon monoxide. It’s very insidious because none of us are paying attention to what’s going on in your world. In the DC, inside the Beltway, we’re oblivious to this because we’re off living our lives, raising families, working jobs, duck hunting whatever we’re doing and we’re taking our off that kind of ball. But here in North America, I know there’s a lot of going on in the world of defunding conservation and that’s scary. We don’t have enough conservation dollars going into habitat as it is. And now they’re trying to remove and one of the big arguments, wildlife for all, I think that’s the name of that group here in America, they’ve got a great argument. Let’s use duck for an example 2/10th of American, 2/10th of 1% of American Canadians identify as duck hunters. We’re putting our small fraction, putting their time in the money. However, a lot of the DNRs and scientists and biologists and universities are operating under the maximum sustained yield model. Okay, maximum sustained yield and so the argument is, well, wait a minute, these are public trust species, they belong to everybody. Why are we letting 2/10th of a percent of the population dictate and bias the output and the objective of these DNRs when they’re completely irrelevant relative to the population? Never mind the question, who the heck going to put billions of dollars into it at all if you remove the – if you defund it? But there seem to be a very prevailing movement right now on disassociating firearms and hunting equipment from conservation. What do you know about that, Gabby?

Gabriella Hoffman: Yes, there is a movement to do it and actually, sadly has bipartisan support and I’ll explain how, in my periphery, I feel like a lot of the attacks on hunting, especially when it comes to this funding mechanism in the, I would say the incremental ban kind of efforts, those are largely emanating from preservationist leftists who believe in rewilding, don’t view hunters and anglers as good stewards of conservation. So we see that angle in terms of defunding, especially of late, in addition to the kind of these preservationist leftists we see so called rightists. And I’m a conservative, I have a lot of libertarian tendencies, I’m a small government person and I’m seeing fellow people who share my political worldview claim that Pittman Robertson, Dingle Johnson is an infringement on our second amendment rights and I have to pause and stop when I hear that and I’ve talked to industry folks, I’ve done my own research. I want to, okay, maybe give some thought into this argument, is this true? Do I really lose my gun rights if I continue to have Pym and Robertson, Dingle Johnson perpetuated? And I’ve concluded that there is no basis in that argument because the manufacturers are the ones who are paying this tax. And let’s say hypothetically this, the 10% and the 11% tax were to go away. Are you going to see a 10%, 11% reduction in your cost, in your purchases? No, because everything is dictated by markets. And the manufacturers side, the firearms manufacturers, the ammunition manufacturers, the nonprofit organizations, everyone who is entangled or involved in this industry, you don’t see a large overt movement to get rid of Pittman Robertson, I think it’s a very popular piece of legislation. Does it need to be improved? Absolutely. Can those monies be stewarded better and can state wildlife agencies appropriate those monies better? Absolutely. All of us want that, we don’t want it to be wasted on just marketing. We want it to go towards actual habitat restoration, wildlife conservation efforts, hunters education and more recently, to fund public target shooting ranges. That’s what we all want. But we have this kind of, like, small faction who maybe represent, I wouldn’t even say a majority, I would say it’s a very minority share, maybe 14, 15, maybe 10% of people in the shooting sports world, a very small minority. But it’s largely because of this one so called Second Amendment rights group that really doesn’t kind of like the lefty preservationist groups, it uses a lot of expletives, doesn’t know how to build coalitions. And they’re saying, like, this is an infringement and it’s the same as 1000% excise tax. I don’t like the 1000% percent excise tax proposal that I’ve seen from actually my congressman. That’s an actual infringement on Second Amendment rights. It would have a serious burden on not only manufacturers, but also consumers and actually impose restrictions. I have yet to see a cogent argument outside of it’s an attack on the Second Amendment, which it’s not and then they’re like, okay, through a proposal called the Return Act, which may return and be reintroduced again, that would be a terrible thing. So this Return Act said, okay, let’s reshuffle where conservation funding comes from. We want it to come through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is a great fund, but it has nothing to do with PR. This is currently money that comes from offshore oil and gas or perhaps renewable, offshore renewable wind in particular, but wind is not very reliable, especially offshore wind. And we could talk more about that, I know we’re going to talk about if renewable energy is really good for habitat and for wildlife shortly. But right now, this Land and Water Conservation Fund money is maybe $800 million right now as a pot and we’re seeing, if you follow energy policy like I do, we’re seeing a diminishment of that because fewer oil and gas leases are being approved offshore. It’s the lowest, I would say, percentage of bids on leases for offshore development, for oil and gas that are occurring under this administration. So it’s a really weird argument to see Republicans, for instance, who claim to be for energy policies thinking the Land and Water Conservation Fund is going to be a supplement or a replacement to getting rid of PR. But it’s actually going to be a diminishment at half of the monies of PR, for instance, if we’re going by the numbers of the last year’s haul, it was $1.6 billion in totality that was sent back to the states, all 50 states, through Pittman Robertson. So you’re going to see a diminishment of half of the funds, let’s say, going off of last year’s numbers through a fund that is not being replenished because there’s no offshore oil and gas development really occurring as much as in previous years. So to me, the arguments about it’s going to be a good replacement doesn’t hold water to me. I can easily see past this gun control argument, I don’t see it as an infringement, I’m not losing my ability to buy guns through Pittman Robertson because it was hunters and anglers and shooting sports enthusiasts who said over almost 100 years ago, who said, we need to check ourselves and our behavior with this market, game hunting, this is a reasonable ask. Excise taxes are not the same as income taxes. I think a lot of people don’t understand tax policy and one of the more neutral arbiters of tax policy called the Tax foundation said this is one of the best executed excise taxes because it’s being stewarded in a way that it’s not coming at a cost to consumers because the consumers see, like I mentioned earlier, PR Dingle Johnson funds are actually going to where they’re saying they’re going. For the most part, like I said, there could be some kinks that can be worked out and improved upon like anything. But for the most part, this is the one of the few areas I feel like where government does its job reasonably well because you’re putting those monies to the state agencies who may be even better arbiters of conservation money than the federal government at times or better steward of conservation compared to the federal government. I see this as the case because I’m not optimistic about where conservation policy is going, in the interior department, I don’t see a cultivation of sportsmen there happening right now. They’re really appealing to anti hunters in many regards, even though they’re giving off the appearance, oh, we’re for anglers, we’re for sportsmen, but we’re going to restrict your ability to use lead components here or we’re going to close up 60 million acres to non resident caribou and moose hunting in Alaska. So a lot of mixed messaging happening federally, but I think the states in this age right now are still keeping true conservation afloat. Like I said, even with their imperfections, I trust my state wildlife agency and federal –

Ramsey Russell: It’s almost the only thing that’s keeping it afloat and it’s scary to me because here’s what I’m getting at. Anybody listening? Tell me one thing, tell me anything that’s wrong with modern duck hunting today. Dwindling populations, less breeding mallards, crowded boat ramps, fights, the behavior as expressed on social media. Tell me, waning migrations, distribution of waterfowl continentally, changing environmental change. Tell me any problem that you perceive in the duck hunting world and I’ll argue tooth and nail that it goes back to habitat loss, it’s habitat loss. And meanwhile, we’ve got all these politicians, the entire world, telling us that we need to run our automobiles on batteries. We need to have solar wind farms that would drain wetlands down in Wharton County, Texas and everywhere else and put them in solar farms where nothing lives but a red wasp and blight our landscape with these wind farms and the largest carbon sink on earth are wetlands. Hey, look, Ramsey will kill more ducks, society will benefit by sequestered carbon in wetlands. But we don’t go there, do we? I mean, there’s something else going on with this whole green energy movement and you’ve been talking a lot about some of this stuff, Gabby.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yeah. Some of what I may say might anger some of your listeners, maybe they’ll have an open mind. But I’m seeing this kind of conversation about so called clean energy bleed into the outdoor industry. A couple pieces I saw, our one blog post I saw from backcountry hunters and anglers. I thought they were very correct here in criticizing, for instance, the Biden administration’s western solar plan, of which there are about 5 to 6 proposals to harness or catalyze solar, utility scale solar, which is like those solar fields you see from abroad, like those solar fields in China, where it’s blanketed with solar panels, upon solar panels, that’s what utility scale solar is, and their preferred alternative is to develop potentially on 22 million acres across 11 states. And you hear that and you see that proposal and you’re thinking, this can’t be a good use of land, like, what’s going to be entailed here? What are some of the problems that can emanate from this? And then there was a meat eater article that criticized the plan too, because it’s kind of vague on specifics about how this would imperil habitat, whether it’s wetlands or just general habitat for a lot of critters, whether they’re migrating species or not, birds or mammals. All of the above and just some of the different implications there and in this media report, the author said that a majority of sportsmen, even with the problems with this plan that he outlined, he said a majority of sportsmen still support this net zero agenda. I clicked on the hyperlink. I couldn’t find any evidence about, like, polling or unanimous support or majority support for, let’s say, going carbon free, which is not a feasible thing to do because we are made of carbon. We’re still going to be using products and byproducts that are carbon intensive. We can reduce our footprint and I think we’ve done a great job in terms of using different energy sources like natural gas to really reduce our footprint. But we still use a lot of stuff, like most people who hunt and fish are using diesel powered trucks. It’s just how it is. Your boat is being powered by motor fuel, you’re not using ethanol, you don’t want to use ethanol based fuel, it has a lot of problems. It even is dirtier than conventional fuel that you use for your motors, same for your duck boats. And so we’re seeing this kind of conversation creep in and nobody’s opposed to nature based climate solutions or nature based remedies to bolster the environment. Like you said, wetlands are natural carbon sequestration outlets, where it naturally take places. So you could look to see what is happening in nature and bolster habitats or bolster certain processes that already occur without using, let’s say the force of regulation, without displacing property rights owner, property owners, public land users. But this net zero movement. And like I said, I want to caution your listeners before they really dive head first into this in support of this, I worry and I have a lot of concerns that this is actually going to be worse than conventional energy use. Even the Sierra Club, of all places, I’ve been doing a lot of preparation because I’m going to be doing some media hits on the solar plan. Even the Sierra Club says that the demands of utility scale solar, for instance, it uses a whopping more amount of land than even, let’s say fossil fuel projects. So they concede that they’re aware that the footprint is a lot greater. There’s also a lot of problems with stormwater runoff. How these panels are sourced, are they being sourced through questionable human rights violations in countries that don’t respect the environment? That’s a big question. Are these projects really being propped up because of market demand or because of government subsidies? It’s usually the latter. Is there really a market need for it? Are these clean energy companies going to be benefiting from certain conservation policies? You may have heard about the BLM’s conservation, landscape and health rule that is soon to be finalized, if their conservation lease mechanism is to be legitimized and approved and included in the final rule. This is going to greenlight a lot of so called clean energy companies, solar and wind included, to say, if we destroy high quality habitat on multiple use land across BLM land, we’re going to promise, if you can trust us to restore lesser habitat or lesser grade habitat or quality of land nearby, even if we destroy untold amount of high quality habitat or high quality land.

Ramsey Russell: Elon Musk. I heard him on a podcast recently saying that the entire United States could be powered in terms of our lights, our electricity could be powered with 100 sq miles of solar farm and I don’t know if he meant 100 sq miles, 10 by 10 or 100 miles square, 100 by 100. That number would make better sense to me, not knowing any better, okay, so let’s say 6 million acres on the high end. What a perfect solution for parts of BLM land where there is nothing for a 1000 square miles but freaking sagebrush. There’s no wetlands habitat, there’s no, you know what I’m saying and we concentrate in one big industrial complex, bam, right here on public land. And now we’ll power our homes with somebody, I mean, maybe that’s an alternative, but just putting this stuff willy nilly all over the landscape just doesn’t seem like we had a guy, I talked to a guy yesterday, Andrew McKean, an outdoor rider with Outdoor Life.

Gabriella Hoffman: He’s great, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And he was talking about the implosion of caribou herds, death by a thousand cuts or American bison not being restored yet because of a lot of this infrastructure and these fences and highways and pipelines and all this stuff we’re putting out across the landscape that is severely impacting these wildlife populations or our ability to scale them to their former populations. Waterfowl could be no different, we start talking wetlands loss and that’s, you see what I’m saying? So I don’t know why we can’t just get a plan together to do this kind of stuff. You mentioned, changing the subject just a little bit because we’re talking about anti hunters and clean energy and all this stuff. We had spoke previously about marginalized access, how anti hunters and their liberal politician counterparts are incrementally marginalizing hunting in North America through access and it could be access to land or it could be access financial barriers to ammo. So I was traveling somewhere recently, back this fall, I was out of the country and just didn’t read a lot. I was too busy traveling to keep up with the finer touches. But I knew the Biden administration had passed a non toxic shot or non toxic fishing weight on certain public properties. And okay, maybe lead is toxic for the environment, but I didn’t feel like that’s why this administration did that. I think it was just another winning of the battle for anti hunting movement to marginalize hunter access, either now I’ve got to buy more expensive ammo or I can’t hunt these certain areas regardless and it’s a death by a thousand cuts. Can you speak a little bit to how these, at the political level, they are marginalized and access to hunter?

Hunting and Conservation Perspectives.

So they’re conditioning future openings to new hunting and fishing opportunities on Fish & Wildlife Service lands, particularly these refuges on phasing out lead use.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yeah, that’s a perfect example, actually. And over the last fall, a rule from the Fish & Wildlife Service was finalized to ban lead components, whether it’s tackle or bullets on 8 national wildlife refuges. So they’re conditioning future openings to new hunting and fishing opportunities on Fish & Wildlife Service lands, particularly these refuges on phasing out lead use. So they first experimented in 8 refuges, 2 of which fall here in the mid Atlantic, I believe one is Chincoteague and I think the other might be Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, closer to the coast, but beautiful areas. You could do sika deer hunting in Blackwater and Chincoteague is beautiful, too, lots of great waterfowling, I believe, opportunities there. I haven’t hunted in either, but I’ve visited just casually. I’ve seen some of the wild ponies and there’s a lot of kind of like multiple uses at play there and so they were forced to do this, but I think they were largely cooperative in doing so because a lawsuit first triggered this rule and I think it’s a sophisticated way of doing this. So they’re environmental backers sued them to say that you have to act here because if you were going purely on scientific, let’s say analysis, the science is still being debated. I know there’s a conversation in the hunting industry writ large to say, like, we have to move to non toxic lead, okay, sure, let’s have that debate. But we still have to let it be a choice of the consumers over whether or not they prefer to buy non toxic lead alternatives if they want to stick with lead, and I think a lot of the misunderstanding of lead usage also right now happens because of the conflation of lead, pure lead with lead fragments. And in any time that I’ve gone hunting or fishing, if I’m using lead components, I’m always making sure that I’m not leaving any lead in the places I go, whether it’s fishing or hunting and I always make sure to leave no trace, as the campaign says. And I think a lot of hunters do that, but the people who are disrespectful they’ll never do that, but I think they’re a small minority. Obviously they’re a blight, but I think they’re a minority of people who do this. So I think a self respectable hunter or a young family going hunting is not going to purposely lead lead components on National Wildlife Refuges. I feel like this was kind of like a extreme scenario invented by these plaintiffs. The plaintiffs who actually sued the administration to force this rule to take place and take shape was center for biological diversity. No friend of hunters Natural Resources Defense Council. Again, another hunting anti hunting outfit and then I believe was earth justice and a couple others.

Ramsey Russell: There you go.

Gabriella Hoffman: Anti hunting outfits, who first start with these very kind of innocent proposals or very nice sounding proposals, lead is so toxic. It is toxic for certain animals. I know for waterfowl, there’s no lead used in the shot shells and I’ve hunted for ducks once and we used non lead alternatives, for there, it may make sense, of course and that’s where it is. But other forms of hunting have yet to adopt that and like I said, I think it’s a consumer choice thing and people need to assess whether or not it’s good for them. And the only way I feel like toxic lead concerns would be a risk to you personally, is if, I think there was one gentleman that I’ve cited in some of my articles on this over the debate of, are you going to be poisoned by lead? If you use lead shot once in a deer, like or if it somehow doesn’t, the projectile kind of injures when the shot is taken, it enters the animal and potentially destroys your meat. And that’s happened, actually with a copper bullet I used for my first year. I didn’t like the damage from the from the spreading of the ammunition. I didn’t like that it actually damaged a shoulder more than I think a lead bullet would have done. So I was like, I did have good target placement, but I felt like it was too much damage with this copper alternative. But that’s what they, we were using for the hunt and others may have better experiences with the non lead alternatives. I’m fine with using either, like I said, I just don’t want to be forced to use one or the other unless I have sufficient evidence that using lead, even touching it, even though I wash my hands after I touch lead or if I’m field dressing an animal and I’m treating the bullet hole, the bullet wound and I’m making sure the meat I’m consuming does not have any fragments in it. I think they underestimate the intelligence of hunters thinking that we’re just going to eat and consume the surrounding area where lead shot may be or where the bullet hole may be. We treat that before we ingest the meat and I think it has to stay in the meat, from what one expert said, for like, 48 to 72 hours, I don’t know anyone who’s not going to treat the meat immediately or cut out the portions that may be compromised from the bullet wound. So these people were going off of very kind of extremist, unfounded arguments, like worst case scenarios, like thinking that hunters just eat whatever is there. No, we make sure that everything is fine, we’re not eating lead fragments, we’re not ingesting meat that has been saturated with lead components for 48 to 72 hours. They think we’re like neanderthals who just eat everything that’s given to us and we don’t carefully tend after the meat, after we process it. So I’ve written an article, I can send it over to you, Ramsey, over this, but so far, it’s not something the industry supports at large. I’ve talked to people from NSSF, I’ve talked to different folks. They’re fine with the market playing out this way. Certain companies adopt some lead alternatives, but the lead alternatives can be really expensive and very cost prohibitive for families just starting out to go hunting and fishing. And if you’re going to make this sport or activity extremely expensive with this threshold barrier access. Access and barriers to entry, you’re going to get people to be disinterested in the sport, like, even if the cost is not, it’s not going to be enormous in terms of a cost barrier, but it adds up for a lot of families. You shift from, let’s say I don’t know what the cost of lead shot is today, but it’s a lot more expensive than I remember because of inflation. But let’s say it’s like per bullet, couple dollars around, let’s say some of the bigger calibers. Let’s say the non lead ones are maybe 5 times more, for instance, 3 to 5 times, sometimes 10 times more. That could add up for families that are trying to budget their hunting trips and they’re going to be like, I have to pay this much for non lead alternatives, I’m going to skip out these activities altogether. So you’re right, it is somewhat of an indirect way to attack, act as access. It doesn’t sound like a deliberate kind of nefarious tactic, but it really is, when you come to think of it. In California, they have succeeded in forbidding lead usage, I think, in a lot of the activities for both sporting and hunting and fishing and that resulted, I believe, from what the early estimates have shown there, it does have some job displacement. It discourages people from going to the field or going on the water. It does have a lot of, excuse me, real world implications. It does lead to possibly a diminishment of conservation funding. It leads to less people participating in the sport in addition to prohibitions on the types of firearms or tools you can use, but it’s the gateway to hunting and firearms prohibition. These lead phase out. So even if you’re like, I hate lead, I don’t want to use it, it’s bad and like I said, for certain species it is bad, like, it did have an impact on condors. I definitely concede that it’s not good for every animal. But are people purposely trying to leave a lot of lead out for animals? I think today no, people are very conscious about, like, not wanting to hurt endangered species or not wanting to pollute or to leave a trace of whatever material they’re using for their hunting activities. Like you know that you don’t want to leave the place worse off than you found it or then you initially discovered it or initially went to go hunting or fishing on. And so I think they underestimate our intelligence as hunters and anglers, as people who don’t want to leave the environment worse off than we left it and it’s just a scare tactic, honest to goodness, right now. But like I said, until the hunting and shooting sports industry changes its mind or sees evidence to support a blanket ban or to support, let’s say, a natural faze away from it, we’re still going to be using lead components. It just makes sense.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of the legacy led in the world of duck hunting studies that I’m familiar with just through a few conversations is negligible, where ducks are hunted in areas, especially in the deep south, where you’ve got a lot of siltation load coming in, where you’ve got agriculture, they’ve gone out and sampled some of these areas that were shot historically for decades, many decades with lead shot. And 10 years later, 20 years later, well, 30 years later, almost, there’s zero lead in the environment. There’s none accessible to the duck, it’s deep down in the soil profile right now. So it makes you wonder about some of this stuff. We were talking about this before the show, maybe you could shed some light on it. But I had told you that, well, you had said something and I told you, I replied and I said, well, it’s interesting you should say that because we just had our Azerbaijan duck hunt canceled. I’m supposed to be in Azerbaijan right now while we’re recording duck hunting. I go every year in February and the outfitter had to cancel our American group and a whole bunch of other, he deals with a lot of Arab Emirate and Libyan type folks come over there to duck hunt, but he had to cancel about a dozen or more groups because Baku won the bid to host the United Nations environmental climate change summit next January. Therefore, the Ministry of Ecology and Azerbaijan canceled immediately all hunting in Azerbaijan until next November. And I’m like, what the heck? What does one have to do with the other?

Gabriella Hoffman: I haven’t seen that, that’s crazy.

Ramsey Russell: What does one have to do with the other? Well Gabby, the further you get down the trail from a first world country, anything can happen. I mean, I was talking to, I told that story to a sheep hunter at Safari Club. He was telling me that they closed some kind of sheep hunting in Kyrgyzstan for 2 years just because there wasn’t no UN involvement, they just closed before. But I couldn’t make the link in the country getting ready for UN, therefore closing hunting for a significant period until you told me that, did you read or hear or see something that the United Nations has some form of proposal about hunting, about shutting hunting worldwide?

Gabriella Hoffman: I wouldn’t say about shutting down hunting worldwide specifically, but I believe a new study on migrating species and how they’re being threatened. It does, they claim in their mind that in the study that they attribute the loss of migrating species to human activities like hunting and fishing among a wider set of concerns, they attributed to climate change, they contributed to overdevelopment. Some of this stuff is a natural thing to worry about, of course, but they also mentioned that –

Ramsey Russell: They’re not saying just hunting and fishing, but they listed hunting and fishing –

Gabriella Hoffman: As a potential to habitat, yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Along with habitat loss and human consumption of habitat and industrialization and everything else. They just threw it in there with the whole mix of things.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yeah, in my initial scanning of this, but not so much related to the Baku conference. But you need to tell me more offline about this, because if there’s any formal written documentation showing this, this should be, I would actually be very curious. We’ll back of –

Ramsey Russell: If it is, it doesn’t come from the United Nations. It would come from Ministry of Interior of Ecology or whatever.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yeah, if the ministry has it, send me that update. That would actually be really interesting to explore more.

Ramsey Russell: That’s crazy, isn’t. Because, see, here’s –

Gabriella Hoffman: It shouldn’t have any relation to climate.

Addressing Misconceptions about Hunting and Conservation.

We consume, we’re in the environment, we are part of the environment, we change the environment around us, whether it’s our house cats going and killing small animals or it’s just us, even if we’re vegans.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a perfect segue, because going back to talking about anti-hunters, coming back to talking about the agnostics, you started, you’ve mentioned Colorado a few times, whether you hunt or you don’t hunt and I’m going to pick on one other segment of anti-hunters real quick, just as an example. We get a lot of feedback and it’s always the same thing, it’s like a bunch of emoticons crying. They stumbled across a picture or up or a video or a reel on our social media and they did string out all these little crying boo-hooing emoticons and I click to see who they are and they’re from India and India has zero whatsoever hunting culture and for those of you that know about India, it’s a very over industrialized and toxic environment because of humanity, just toxic and the Ganges River, everything is just polluted. Go watch Slumdog Millionaire for an idea of what it’s like in India. And look back around about why I thought to mention that it’s just whether we hunt or we don’t or we’re part of the 80% or we’re an anti-hunter with a bunch of house cats otherwise, there’s no escaping the human footprint. We consume, we’re in the environment, we are part of the environment, we change the environment around us, whether it’s our house cats going and killing small animals or it’s just us, even if we’re vegans. Well, golly boy, let me go show you all this monotypical agricultural landscape that very little lives in, because it’s nothing but soybeans or nothing but something. You know what I’m saying? I mean, it’s crazy that our consumption of natural resources is just a human phenomena and we can’t escape it. So how can you single me out as going and participating in regulated harvest? I’m not in the bush meat trade. I’m not going and shooting anything to eat 365 days a year and there still are a lot of parts of the world, Gabby, that they hunt and it’s hard for me to classify a starving people as poachers, but they are, because they’re just hunting. They’re just consuming any form of wildlife with snares or traps or – One of the coolest social media accounts I follow is somewhere in the Middle East. And all he posts every day is he’ll take up a 12 pack beer carton or soda pack carton or cardboard or plastic or something and build some of the simplest, most elaborate traps for capturing quail. It’s amazing, sitting there watching his little quail walk up, following the – And then he’ll literally just lift the box out of the hole and go home with a dozen birds. It’s crazy, I mean, so that’s not sport hunting, that’s subsistence hunting.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yep.

Ramsey Russell: But there’s no escaping the human footprint. We’re all impacting nature and so we need to all work and collaborate together to conserve what’s left or build more in the incidents of wetlands. And so that’s just, that’s a note I wanted to end on, just more or less, is that there’s no escaping it. And this is not a Democrat Republican issue, is it? This is, it is, like you said, use the word bipartisan. I mean, what’s going on? Last question, what’s going on in Nebraska?

Gabriella Hoffman: That’s a great question.

Ramsey Russell: A Republican politician has decided to raid the conservation funds and throw them into a general budget and a general budget in government means pay the light bill with it saying, go buy more copier paper. That’s what a general budget’s for. It’s not for conservation. What’s going on with that? That’s not a Democrat, that’s not an anti-hunter. That’s a Republican in Nebraska, who is he and why is he doing that? Gabby?

Gabriella Hoffman: I don’t recall exactly, I forget his name off the top of my head. But I’ve seen this tactic played before actually, Pennsylvania Republicans in the state legislature did the same thing with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, threatened to defund it. So this is a ploy that some people are using as like a negotiating tactic. Maybe this guy is doing the same thing but I think he went a step beyond even what the Pennsylvania folks did where he wrote an email back to people and it was just so mean and callous. I’ve never seen a lawmaker, I mean, I’ve seen Democrats write this, too. I mean, Republicans write nasty emails back to constituents or people who reply to them. But this was a very mean, very hostile email response where he was like, I’m going to cut this off. Screw you, that type of deal. And I think that behavior is very unbecoming of a lawmaker no matter where you fall on the political aisle. But like I said, this is not a new tactic and we’re sadly starting to see this, I mean, we’re even seeing the anti hunting left do this, too, by, by saying, like, hunting is terrible, we’re going to defund you because you guys are contributing to biodiversity loss. So it could be found in any shape or form, any political thinking. But lately, sadly, it’s been coming from Republicans. And that makes me upset as someone who inclines to the center right and who’s a conservative to see this because conservation is conservative and great, okay, maybe you have some questions about the fund. You could have probably tendered it a little differently. You didn’t have to say, I’m threatened to cut this off and then really open yourself up to so much blowback. This guy is going to definitely face a primary challenge, he should. He definitely has to answer for his tactics and his unbecoming behavior of a, like we expect from the people who represent us, like, don’t behave like a child. And especially if you claim to support hunting and conservation, which a lot of these people do. And if there are some problems with the general fund and how those monies are being appropriated, debate them. But don’t say, I’m going to totally cut this off and then send it to the general fund. Like, that’s a terrible use of conservation dollars and you’re going to get a lot of criticism for it.

Ramsey Russell: General funds are a terrible use of funds, period. That is the slush budget of all government agencies, that’s where stuff just gets squandered. Like I said, writing paper to trips to whatever that’s where everything just is unaccounted for and just gets blown. No matter if you’re talking Capitol Hill or Deer Camp, general funds are terrible.

Gabriella Hoffman: No. So he’s gotten a lot of attention, not positive attention, for his behavior through doing this. And he did this to one guy and then he sent similar messages to a lot of people who may have been from out of state, but even non-hunt, non-Nebraskans who may hunt in the state, they can, excuse me, they can weigh in on legislation. People fill out forms all the time for different issues, even if they don’t live in the state, because what if that person is going to be a non-resident hunter? So they have to be concerned about those monies. They can be concerned about where those monies are being dispersed or how they’re being utilized. But it’s just these politicians, sadly, who take hunters for granted and something I want around our conversation with is, I understand why we keep hearing the chatter of hunters being low propensity voters or not voting altogether, because they see a lot of lawmakers behave like this, whether it’s on the left or the right. They see that there’s this mean spirited disregard for hunters and anglers as part of the democracy or as part of discussions over policy and it’s understandable why a lot of hunters and even some anglers are very disillusioned and don’t vote. I’ve seen numbers, as, touted as 50% of them don’t vote because they’re non voting or low propensity voters to as high as, as recently as I heard at SCI, believe it or not, at the CSF reception, I heard a figure as high as 74% don’t vote and that alarms me.

Ramsey Russell: I think it may be more than just 74% of hunters. I just, I believe that a lot of the social media, television, newspapers, media, whatever you want to call it, I believe it’s a form of programming us to think and behave in a certain way as consumers. I’ll take my tenfold hat off in just a second, but I do believe we’re being conditioned and know a lot of this, a lot of the conversation, a lot of the narrative we’re being conditioned to believe is that our vote doesn’t matter, therefore fewer of us are voting. Well, it’s kind of hard to sac a, it’s kind of hard to stuff ballot boxes if everybody’s voting. It’s kind of hard to do anything if all of us are voting. You know what I’m saying? And I believe maybe we’re being conditioned. Just not vote, not worry about it, that’s what I think, Gabby. And so I think voter participation in America is probably at an all-time low. But it shocks me to hear a number as high as 75% of hunters with our plus topics we’ve been talking about, that 75% of hunters don’t care enough to just take 15 minutes out of their day and go pull a lever. That blows my mind.

Gabriella Hoffman: It’s not surprising. It’s actually to be expected and I think also that when they see lawmakers who they thought they could trust do really nonsensical stuff like this, like attack their constituents or people who could potentially be in support of their policies, I think that also fuels the disillusionment even more so than some other stuff. But I think just hunters, just, they see people go to the state legislatures or they see them go to Congress and they’re not representing their interests or they’re voting for bad legislation that eats up their actual Second Amendment rights or that threatens to cut off conservation funding, whatever mechanism it is. Like, I think a lot of people, even the lawmakers are becoming removed from their surroundings. Very few openly tout their love of fishing, their love of hunting and even shooting sports and I think some people in the shooting sports world don’t understand who claim to be Second Amendment supporters. You need the hunters and vice versa. There is that disconnect even among shooting sports enthusiasts and hunters but I came from first shooting sports. I first got into outdoor activities through fishing, that was my kind of entry into the sport when I was a young girl, an early teenager. By the time I was 12, I was hooked on fishing. I picked up shooting sports at 19 and then from shooting sports, I went to hunting, officially became a hunter, I would say at 26 now. I’m in my early 30s, a few years later. And so I don’t think there should be this debate over shooting sports enthusiasts and hunters and there was a new poll that actually showed that non-hunting, shooting sports enthusiasts support conservation funding, about 86% do. So I think media, social media pressure to be popular, to get clicks, fuels these divides that are unnecessary. I think this lawmaker is simply engaging in that kind of stuff to, I would say facilitate outrage and clicks and thinking this is going to win them over, but it’s not. And I think people have to change in terms of their behavior. I think it’s good. I speak to a lot of lawmakers who tout the sportsman way of life and I love asking them about these questions, not because they’re softball questions, but I’m like you say that you support this, show me how you support this. Like, recount a hunting trip you had, a recount a fishing trip you have. And I love asking that question and many feel comfortable and they reach out to me and are like, can I come on your show to talk about these topics? I love that. I love these topics. I’m a conservationist. I want to have a comfortable environment to really go off on, on these topics. And so I love being a vehicle for such whenever I encounter lawmakers. So I think more just have to become comfortable and outweigh the outrageousness like you see of this Nebraska lawmaker or some of these Pennsylvania lawmakers who threatened to pull Pennsylvania Game Commission funding but never, thankfully, succeeded in doing so. So you have to check your own people at times who may engage in this kind of extreme behavior and say, like, you’re doing a lot more damage. Let’s have a discussion about this. If there are some problems with funding or how it’s being dispersed, let’s have a conversation about it. Let’s not threaten to cut off funding altogether because then you’re going to give the anti-hunters more ammunition to say, hey, let’s come in and let’s take them further word and let’s replace and supplement funding with people who are not hunters or anglers.

Ramsey Russell: I appreciate you, Gabby, as always, a wealth of knowledge, of unbelievable ability to communicate a lot of facts. When am I going to see you on Fox News again? I got up one morning, I’ve been up a couple of mornings drinking coffee, watching Fox News and there’s Gabriella Hoffman talking conservation. I think you need your own little set on there.

Gabriella Hoffman: That was almost a year ago, actually, when I was doing Fox and Friends.

Ramsey Russell: I know her. It’s very rare that I see somebody I know on television like that. You all need your own little segment, that’s what you need. We need a conservation hunting outdoor type segment and mainstream because at the end of the day, we can talk in the hunting world, in the firearm world, we can talk all we want to, we can preach to the choir and it’s not going to matter. We’ve got to start preaching to the agnostics and we as hunters, those of you all listening, man, we have got to go to the polls. If you don’t like what’s happening in the world around you, at the city level, the county level, the state level or the national level, go and vote them. If you don’t like these old geezers that are running for president, running Capitol Hill, go vote them out and get somebody your age put in there, that’s the American way. Go and vote, man. Don’t just drive down the road and let somebody else carry the load. It’s the simplest and basic, most human right on earth that we have is just to go pull the lever. It’s just that simple –

Gabriella Hoffman: There are a couple Fox News personalities, one of whom I’m friends with Katie Pavlich. She has a hunting show, actually and then there’s also Johnny Joey Jones, who does a few features, great veteran. His life story is very inspiring. He lost his legs. He was a bomb technician. I believe it was Iraq or Afghanistan, I can’t recall where, but in one of the more recent wars and he’s a big hunter. So there are a few people on Fox News Channel who do talk about hunting, thankfully. And some of the primetime shows do have some hunters who come on. So that’s encouraging but I appreciate you tooting my horn with respect to that. But to your question, before we conclude, I should be going on Fox News soon. I’m supposed to be actually talking about kind of this confluence of clean energy harnessing and environmental impacts very soon, hopefully this week as we’re recording. So I’ll let you know and you’ll see whenever I come –

Ramsey Russell: Give wetlands a plug, Gabby. Tell them, throw it up on everybody’s radar that they need to be building more wetlands, carbon sinks. The duck hunters will love you for it, tell everybody real quick how they can contact you, where they can find you in social media and podcasts.

Gabriella Hoffman: Yes. And if I sound a little like off kilter than my usual stuff than my previous self. I’ve been battling a cold, so I apologize if I sound a little horsey or rusty or not myself. But social media, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all verified over there. So you’ll be seeing a blue check mark. Then you know it’s me, it’s authentic, it’s authenticated. I’ve had those blue check marks for a long time. I have a website,, my podcast District of Conservation. I have a video series called Conservation Nation with a group called CFACT and my day job is Independent Women’s Forum, the Center for Energy and Conservation. We are defending hunters there. My focus is primarily energy, but we do intersperse conservation policy, especially some of these grandiose proposals like the BLM Conservation, Landscape and Health Rule and some other threats you don’t think are threats to hunting but we try to shed a light on those, too.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you, Gabby. Folks, thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere podcast, conservation and hunting topics that we need to be aware of if we’re going to preserve our way of life and go out and take our kids and enjoy it for what it is and what it ain’t. See you all next time.

[End of Audio]

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