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September 11, 2006

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The State of Hunting and Fishing, Post 9/11

In these perilous times, the only thing standing between us and Imminent Doom is the forces of law and order. The problem is that there is nothing standing between the forces of law and order and us. I hold no brief for law enforcement. I pal around with cops, both active and retired, and socialize with a judge. (Although I am leery of him. Unless he sends someone to prison every few days he starts eyeing me strangely.) But by the beard of the Prophet, we have come a long way in the outdoors, and not for the better.

In the early 1970s, when I began flying to hunt, you could take a rifle on board a plane in a soft case and ask the stewardess (which is what they were called then) to give it to the pilot and have him keep it in the cockpit. Contrast this with last year, when prior to flying home from a hunt, a vigilant security employee relieved me of a 1/2-inch safety pin before I was allowed to board.

At the Charlestown, West Virginia, airport a couple of years ago, a bunch of my fellow gun writers were forbidden (in contradiction of TSA policy) to take riflescopes with them onto the plane by a dedicated if brain-damaged TSA agent who informed them that the scopes “…could be used as clubs.”

Nor is fishing immune. New York City gets its water from a series of rivers that flow from the Catskill Mountains north of the city into a reservoir system. Prior to 9/11, you needed a permit to fish any part of this system. It was granted pro forma, and was good indefinitely. Immediately after 9/11, all permit holders were told that their cards were no longer valid, and that they must turn them in and await new ones before they did any angling in the city’s water system.

We were issued handsome new permit cards and placards which had to be displayed in our car windows when we parked to fish. But that wasn’t the end of it. Formerly, no one cared much if you had a reservoir card. Now they did. Deeply.

As an example: I am given to fishing a spot called the Five Arches Bridge on Willowemoc Creek (actually a river) that you can reach only by parking and then hiking half a mile through the woods.

On several occasions, I have been accosted at the Five Arches pullover by agents of the D.E.P. (which, I learned to my surprise, did not stand for David E. Petzal, but Department of Environmental Protection). These encounters always follow the same script. The agents are in Lethal Pounce Mode and demand to see my card. I mean, here is this geezer (me) whose most lethal accoutrement is a 5-weight flyrod, and they are acting like I have a copy of the Koran in one pocket of my fly vest and 50 pounds of botulinus extract in another.

I was curious about what kind of havoc someone could wreak with New York’s water supply by meddling with the Willy (as its fans call it) and asked a friend of mine who is not only a terrorism expert but a formidable angler.

“You’d have to get a railroad car full of poison and dump it,” he said.

Sometimes problems arise because people don’t know anything about guns--or bows and arrows. Last year at the airport I had to show a cop how a lever-action rifle worked. This past June, a friend of mine put his compound-bow case on the check-in counter at JFK airport. The ticket agent asked him what was in it and he said, “A bow.”

“Is it loaded?” she snarled. She was not kidding.

But the all-time example of security run amok doesn’t even involve a gun or a bow. It involves the Medal of Honor and one of our most distinguished outdoorsmen, who made the mistake of carrying his Medal of Honor through Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on January 11, 2002. His name was Joseph J. Foss, and in case you aren’t familiar with his record, here it is in brief:
1: As a Marine Corps aviator, Foss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
2: He was twice elected Governor of South Dakota
3: He was the first commissioner of the American Football League.
4: He served as president of the National Rifle Association, and was host of the television show, “The American Sportsman.”

Foss, who was 86 at the time and lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, was attempting to board a flight to Washington, D.C. to attend an NRA meeting, and from there he was to continue to West Point to address the cadets. Thus, he carried the Medal, which he thought they might like to see. In his pockets he also had a bullet with hole drilled through it for a keychain, a metal nail file bearing the inscription from his Medal of Honor, and the Medal itself.

Foss could not go through the metal detector because he wore a pacemaker, but when he was wanded, the hardware showed up. Despite the inscription on the Medal’s back, which stated why it was awarded, and to whom, and when, the people who grilled him had no idea what it was. After being harassed for 45 minutes by two separate security crews, the verdict was that the bullet was “ammunition” and would have to be mailed home, as would the nail file, since metal nail files are prohibited from aircraft cabins under FAA regulations. (It’s not hard to see how an 86-year-old man with a pacemaker could take over a plane with a nail file.)

Foss was allowed to keep his Medal of Honor. He was not bitter about the incident--he knew we needed airport security--but he was unable to comprehend a United States of America whose citizens did not know what a Medal of Honor was.

Joe Foss passed away on New Year’s Day, 2003, his duty to his country done. Sadly, it was hardly the same country he had served so valiantly as a Marine aviator.


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Ralph the Rifleman

The 9/11 tragedy has changed our lives in many ways, that's for sure...and I say;Memory in life, and for the dead;let us never forget that tragic day!

JA Demko

It's important that citizens be kept in a high state of agitation and fear of an enemy if they are to be effectively governed. I don't believe for a moment that the events of 9/11 were orchestrated by our government. That government has, however, seized what could only be considered a priceless opportunity to more closely monitor and control its citizens.


I DO believe 9/11 was orchestrated by the govt. One, no steel framed building has EVER fialed due to fire (the heat generated from jet fuel would NOT generated enough heat long enough to melt steel girders) Two, the tops of the buildings would have toppled NOT fallen in on themselves as they did (Only way to achieve such a controled fall is from the use of strategicly placed explosives as you see in demolitions) and three, tower 7 (I beleieve) was NEVER touched by a jet yet IT crumbled as well. These as wellas a few other hard facts lead me to believe this was a well orchestrated attack sanctioned by THIS nations govt. The Islamic slime (al-queda) have gotten what the wanted...the destruction of this nation i.e. death of freedom. This govt has been avidly seeking ANY way to steal freedoms to "control" the general populace and create a police state for 50 plus years. The killing of 3000+ citizens was simply a great catalyst for them to use.

I shall NEVER forgive.

Nor shall i EVER forget the citizens and brave fire fighters and other public service individuals that were killed on that fateful day.

Ralph the Rifleman

Well, I didn't want to go to the conspiracy theory table, but I will...for the sake of argument.
I agree with you that I don't believe our govmt. planned, and or executed the 9/11 tragedy, but it does seem to lend an opportunity to seize-or control-some of our freedoms if they so choose to do it. Historically speaking, Pearl Harbor served to teach us a valuable lesson for it's time, and as bad luck would have it..history repeated itself on 9/11.
Good against evil, if you will, challenges every generation in one form or another.
Also, it truely is a shame that some people do not know what is, or have seen, a medal of honor...ignorance, just another victim of our times.


On this the 5th anniversary of this attack against our country, I shudder every time I see the reminders on TV. My one question of this administration is "Where the hell is Bin Laden". 5 years, billions of dollars spent, thousands of lives lost, many more thousands injured and this guy and his second in command are still running around being a pain in the rear. I know terrorism will not end with their capture or death, but man, would it feel good to see these two squirm.


As far as an american NOT knowing a medal of honor on sight...sadly..it does NOT suprise me...considering our schools teach the 2nd ammendment to be about and for hunting (the second is NOT about hunting) and that the Civil War(NOTHING civil about war) was about ending slavery(it WASNT). I COULD go on......but i wont...just more pointed facts to the heart of what is wrong with this country. >>>SIGH<<< mores the pitty!

As far as Bin Laden.......i figure he's assumed room tempurature...he had serious kidney ailments....and without dialisys or a kidney transplant your DEAD..period....or hes sitting on a beach in sunny south FLA getting the treatments he needs...you choose. ;^)

Mike Diehl

Actually, most high schools teach that the ACW was not about ending slavery when in fact it clearly was. Slavery was the first, foremost, and repeated excuse for secession in the South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas and Florida secession statements. Go read the text. The secessions are all initially dedicated to the "failure of certain states" to uphold the constitution by returning escaped slaves to the slavers. The second excuse for secession is invariably that a President has been elected who is hostile to the institution of slavery.

see: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/csa/scarsec.htm

Mike Diehl

Add Mississippi to that list as well.

JA Demko

What Mike Diehl said about the ACW.

With regards to what American High Schools teach about the 2A, every recent textbook I've seen (I teach high school) describes the 2nd as controversial, usually by saying that some people interpret it as an individual right while others interpret it as a the right of the states to have militias. I've never seen one that said it had anything to do with hunting.
You know, I'll bet lots of Americans throughout the history of this country have been unable to identify military decorations by sight. Gun types, for one reason or another, tend to be military buffs too. As a result, there's a tendency to get snotty when people who don't share our enthusiasms display ignorance on our pet topics. Case in point: the contempt that is rained on people who use the terms clip and magazine to mean the same thing. To a non-enthusiast they're pretty much the same thing; a metal thingy that holds bullets. I've seen way too many gun nuts act like not knowing the difference is a sign of low moral character and mental retardation.


Now JA, let's not get our rifles caught in our guns.

JA Demko

You must have quite a gun if you can get a rifle caught in it.


Well, I don't want to brag...


On a brighter note at least the NYC DEP has since opened up a fair amount of watershed lands to deer hunting, and are starting to open some for small game as well.
Just be sure to have the right permits and follow the rules.
Those of us who live in the NYC watershed can tell you about jumping through their hoops.


A few things.

First mike,
i think you and anyone who believes that this attack was orchestrated by the gov't is CRAZY. There were most likely hints that some terrorist plot might go down sometime much like Pearl Harbor but to say the gov't was behind it is absurd. I have never witnessed a greater act os stupidity in my life.
Second, Osama will probably never be found. If Osama is a concrete reason we are in Afganastan and if he is captured their will be more pressure by politicians to leave Irag/Afgan when its to early. Therefore as long as Osama is out there their is a reason to stay.


You know what is really sad, that more Americans know the Australian Steve Irwin then AMERICAN CMH Recipients.



JA Demko

Where are Americans supposed to get this knowledge of CMH recipients? Steve Irwin was on a popular TV show for several years, made guest appearances on other shows, and was in a couple movies. Here is a site maintained by the Army that lists all the citations: http://www.army.mil/cmh/Moh1.htm

A quick look at the site will show you that there are a lot of them. How many of those names should the average American know? How much detail about the circumstances under which the decoration was awarded?
Tell you what, maybe you should approach The History Channel, or similar outlet, and pitch them the idea of a series that details each of the recipients and why he was decorated. If it was done right, it'd be damned interesting TV and also make more people familiar with the recipients...something that seems important to more than one writer here.


I find it necessary to clarify some of this...As a recent refugee from the Post-Civil War South. My grandmother was born on the wreckage of the Family's 15,000 acre plantation after the Uncivil War. Our family was from Boston, Mass. All Plantation Owners were from the North. It took tremendous financial resources. The Ruckus was about Money. It was primarily about the Textile industry. But I couldn't help noticing during my ongoing Tour of the West that "Civil War Battles" were staged in the California Goldfields and in the Arizona Desert. Nobody there ever even saw an African. Today it is still a rich tradition for Carpetbaggers to financially enslave descendants of Aristocrats if they are unwilling to leave their families. THE FIRST SLAVES WERE WHITE. Conspiracy or no on 9/11? What's done is done. Time to move ahead. The Answer is to Americanize Iraq. Nothing that a few boatloads of Camaros and Golden Arches and designer jeans and TV Sets couldn't change forever!


I have traveled extensively and have stories to match. Hilarious now, but not at the time. The mush-head liberals have been allowed too much power over education and we're now seeing the fallout. One glaring example is the people that fall for the conspiricy theories, people that should know better but choose to ignore the facts and follow the emotional-mob mentality like lemmings off a cliff.


LMAO.....more revisionist history here.

FACT.the War of northern aggresion was fought over STATES RIGHTS...NOT slavery. Pres Lincoln facing re-election and the very REAL possibility of losing said election because of a hugely UNpopular war decided to start making sound like it was about slavery.

I will not argue that slavery was one of the undercurrents to this Uncivil war..but the fact still remains it was about STATES RIGHTS. PERIOD

At this point, I shall finish my rant by saying (Because if i dont it will turn into a novel pointing out the ills of bloated central govts, that, by the by our founders found to be anthema)that if you think i am crazy for NOT trusting our bloated self serving central govt, then so be it.

Message of Jefferson Davis to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America, from J.D. Richardson, Messages and Papers of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, Including Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865

Montgomery, April 29, 1861.

"As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves. Fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond; the constitutional provisions for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promise contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed and even murdered in open day solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern States, and laws were passed providing for the punishment, by ruinous fines and long-continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries, of citizens of the Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property. Emboldened by success, the theater of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was not "to promote the general welfare or insure domestic tranquillity," but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the Government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States."

Seems like a lot of talk about slaves.


But who cares about all that stuff anyway? Social issues are for those who can sell them for a profit...This is about Hunting and Fishing after 9/11. For me, it's the same as it was before. I know where I can go in South Alabama and get a Whitetail Buck any day during hunting season. Or catch 20 Largemouth Bass in an hour. Or get that Tom turkey by hanging a Sand Wedge out the car window. Sure, there is unbelievable Social Oppression in the only country defeated at war with the United States which did not receive reparation and restitution, and is still occupied...But people vote with their feet. I came here for the same reason I used to go to the school library every morning and read this magazine, where I learned the merits of the Weatherby and the L.C.Smith (ended up getting them, too!). I can go 1/2 mile to the Columbia River and catch Salmon, Steelhead, and Sturgeon. Or cross the road and go up into the hills and hunt Elk, Blacktail Deer, or Grouse. Or take my Labradors to a field trial nearby. Or get up early and drive to the best Waterfowl Hunting in the Lower 48. Let the New Yorkers worry about What Goes On in New York!

Mike Diehl

9/11 sure hasn't changed hunting and fishing for me. Maybe the impact is primarily on people who travel alot by airplane for the puropose of going on an exotic hunt somewhere. I'd wager that the overwhelming majority of hunters think and hunt and fish locally.

So from where I sit the most dramatic changes in hunting and fishing have nothing at all to do with 9/11 and everything to do with the real estate/development boom going on in all the formerly remote places in the US. 20 years ago I could shoot at a deer at the distant edge of a field a few steps from the door of my dad's central Maine hunting retreat. Now if you were to shoot in any direction the bullet would put out someone's window. We're losing open space... good hunting grounds that used to be available to Joe Everyman ... to rapacious growth.


I must agree 9/11 really didn’t change much in my hunting and fishing. In the shooting and gun owning interests I believe since 9/11 judges have ruled positively on gun ownership and hunting/fishing pursuits. I believe this judicial shift is due the fanciful declarations and arguments of the more radical anti-gun, anti-fishing, and anti-hunting elements are seen and taken as…fanciful. This judicial shift is also being shown nationally in other areas like business corruption and eye-balling the Gov’t anti-terrorist positions with a jaundice eye.

The other feelings of Chaos are because what was seen as politically and socially “Correct” are changing, as it does always. E.g. it’s amazing how opinions have changed over 130 years about General George Armstrong Custer. I think the pendelum is swinging against the more liberal elements. If you think there are howls of tormented souls now, wait for this Fall States’ Elections.

Conspiracy Theories and Claims are real easy on the internet because the arguments are one-sided with stacked or incomplete decks of evidence. Note: Alien abductions are free as is the chest beating.

The real threat to hunting and fishing is access. WE presently aren’t all that far away from the British situation. A resource we all pay for is close to being locked away for the narrow joy of an Elite, or developed into residential no shoot-no hunt zones. Few see it.

craig curtis

amen urban sprawl is what changes our favorite hunting haunts . too many people on this planet want to build in that remote setting where the deer play and the buffalo used to roam !dont see too many hunters here having a problem with their airline luggage dave ,just good old boys that can still find a nook or a cranny for their hunt. but i do feel sorry for your freind who deserved much respect and just got ignorance thats pitifull . and for you mike steel does melt and that building did fail and pancake and i cryed like a baby knowing we lost so much innocence and real men that would lay down their lives for even the likes of you my freind FIREFIGHTER CRAIG CURTIS


Bigfish: "But who cares about all that stuff anyway? Social issues are for those who can sell them for a profit." How sick - how cynical. "Let the New Yorkers worry about What Goes On in New York!" The point of this post is that 9/11 happened to all of us - the UNITED States of America. And the country, the world changed that day. Even Alabama.

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