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January 23, 2008

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Ask the Edwards Campaign A Question

Of all the presidential candidates, none seems more eager to talk to outdoorsmen than Senator John Edwards. The Democrat from North Carolina, who has a mediocre reputation on gun control and is perpetually in third place among Democratic primary voters, has talked to Field & Stream about his Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights and is the only candidate with a "rural liaison," David “Mudcat” Saunders.

Saunders has been appointed by the Edwards campaign to talk about where Edwards stands on habitat (“John believes that wild and game animals belong to everyone, not just the people who can afford to fence in their land,”), gun ownership (“John's been around long enough to know that if someone comes into the house, you’re better off with a shotgun than a machine gun anyway,”), and promoting hunting and fishing (“When hunters die off now, all the kids go off to the city to live, where they don’t have the opportunities to hunt and fish”).

Field & Stream has been contacting other presidential candidates in order to ask them questions about hunting and fishing, but the Edwards campaign has been the most responsive. If you have a question for Saunders, post it below and he will respond this week.--Brian McClintock



Brucie Boy wrote:

"Does his statement about wildlife belonging to everyone and not just those who can afford to fence in their land bother any of you property owners? Has anyone in recent memory disputed this?"

It bothers me. The clear implication is that Edwards believes the fish and wildlife on my private property belong to everybody, and that everybody can come onto my property to hunt (watch, photograph, study, etc.)

So Mr. Edwards, would you please clarify your remarks about property rights and ownership of wildlife?


Hey yall dont hold out on the meds!LMAO They're coming to take me away ho ho!!!

Mike Diehl

@Brucie --

It dpeends on what he means by it. He may mean that he wants to make publically useable open space more accessible or improve habitat in public lands so that one does not have to go to a lease in order to find good hunting ground.

If he means more than that however I still agree in principal. The law in most states is quite clear that wild game animals are publically owned. When people post their land and then hunt and fish publically owned game, they should have to compensate the public.

Mike Diehl

"The clear implication is that Edwards believes the fish and wildlife on my private property belong to everybody"

In most states the law is pretty specific that those fish and wildlife DO belong to everybody.

"and that everybody can come onto my property to hunt (watch, photograph, study, etc.)"

In most states the law is pretty clear that anybody can't if you post your land.

Matt Mallery

Dear Mr. Edwards,

The number one threat to our wildlife, wilderness, and hunting and fishing heritage is human overpopulation of this country. In the 1950s we had 50 million people, today we have 300 million. What will you do to bring about zero population growth in the USA? Will you be willing to deport illegal aliens? Will you be willing to reduce legal and illegal immigration ( we have a total of 4 million a year coming here when you combine the two)? Will you defned a woman's right to choose? Will you educate our youth about birth control instead of this insane idea Bush has regarding abstinence only education? Will you educate the youth about the need to acheive zero population growth and the impact large families have on the ecosystem and our quality of life? Thank you for looking into these matters.

Sherri Mattson

How does Mr. Edwards plan to promote and/or fund the “Open Fields” program? Does he honestly think he can convince land owners to open their land to hunters? Sure they will let you hunt on their land but it will cost you. It does not mater if this farmer is receiving federal funding to restore his wet land or maintain his CRP land, if Cabelas is willing pay a large sum of money to ‘promote’ this land for their Outdoor Adventure program…Greed will overcome. It is not just Cabelas; it is large corporations across the US who are buying up private land to make a dollar off the hunter.

Does Mr. Edwards have any plans to promote youth hunting? The decline in the ‘younger’ hunters is scary and I feel it all comes back to: where can I afford to take my son/daughter to hunt this year.

I do not wonder when the day will come that the Government will take my guns away. I worry about the day when I can no longer find land to hunt on.

Finally, I am finding it hard to think that someone who has not hunted since he was a kid can honestly come up with a comprehensive plan to save our land. If you haven’t experienced the issues how can you change them?

Mike Diehl

"I do not wonder when the day will come that the Government will take my guns away. I worry about the day when I can no longer find land to hunt on."

Gotta agree with that!

Alex Hoover, Indian Hills CO

Thanks for the thought you put in to the Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights. I am not aware of any candidate other than Edwards who specifically addresses sportsmen's issues. I believe that Edwards' ability to put thought into issues that are important, yet may lack "media-worthiness," speaks highly of him.

Michael Crandall

Living in Florida, I question the same as Matt Mallery. Developments are popping up everwhere. House are being built in the Ocala national forest. Just because are deer aren't as big as those in the northern states doesn't mean we don't hunt and that the forest aren't as important. We don't just fish here in Florida.

Michael Crandall

I think Field and Stream staff and members should support a Field and Stream writer to the election.

Billy Bova

Hey folks, just got off of the phone with Mudcat. He is on his rural tour across South Carolina today with Cooter and Dr. Ralph Stanley. In just a couple of hours, he will stop and take a break from campaigning in order to respond to your comments and questions. Thank ya for participating friends, and as we start saying down in this neck of the woods about this time every year, pass them Mudbugs over here! Of course they are officially called Crawfish in the rest of America!


Mr. Edwards in what way is a "Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights" the Federal Govt.'s job? Wouldn't these matters be better left to the States, Wouldn't Virginia know whats best for Virginia, which might not work for New York or Texas, especially when it comes to private property rights?

as moeggs

Do you think the current management of our natural resources is adequate? Anything you would change/improve on?

Brian Marshall

Will Edwards grant his neighbors access to his estate to hunt local game?

Does Edwards have any fence around his property that impedes the movement of the local game population?

As a trial lawyer, does Edwards support legal action against the gun industry?

What is his answer to the thousands of people that would be out of work if litigation against the gun industry was successful?


Mudcat here.

The first thing I must say is I am here to answer questions relating to guns, hunting, and fishing. Most other questions not related to the those issues can easily be found by going to www.JohnEdwards.com. If they are not found there, send an e-mail to the campaign with your question, and we'll get you an answer.

For instance, I'm not the guy to answer questions on alternative energy. I am a hillbilly from the Southern Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Where I'm from, alternative energy is defined as corn likker or a mule.

However, I am willing to answer the tough questions on sporting issues.

I'll tackle some of the gun questions tonight. John believes in individual second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and strongly believes that we have the right to defend our homes and families and the right to own firearms for hunting. The simple truth is John is not going to be taking away guns which are used for those purposes. In additon, he believes strongly in enforcing the current gun laws on the books. For instance, if you commit a felony with a gun, you're going to jail for a long time. If you are a gun dealer and you knowingly sell a gun to a convicted felon or a person who has been judged to be mentally ill, you are going to jail for a long time.

The question on assault weapons is where John draws the line. He told me simply, "I don't like machine guns." He believes them to be offensive weapons meant to kill people in an offensive fashion, not defensive weapons for use in a defensive fashion for the protection of you or your family. By the way, there is not a state in the union where you can legally hunt with a fully automatic weapon. Like he said, he doesn't like "machine guns". That's where he draws the line. But don't let anybody confuse you. He doesn't consider a semi-automatic shotgun or hunting rifle a machine gun.

I am tired as hell after a great long day on the road with John, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and Ben "Cooter" Jones from the "Dukes of Hazzard", and I am personally more interested in the future of our sporting culture than partisan politics. Before I crash for a few hours, I am going to say to those posters who care more about partisan politics than what's going to happen to our sporting culture that you are obviously more interested in taking cheap shots (pun intended) for some petty political purpose than you are about preserving our culture. I've told you where I stand.

I am sick of partisan politics muffling our voices. To the rest of you who want to have a meaningful dialogue on what John can and will do as President, I appreciate your questions and input, hold tight, and I'll answer all of them over the next two days.


Kinda dodging around ownership of handguns for personal defense? What you say about defending home and family could mean a golf club, dog or baseball bat. What about concealed carry permits and blowing a crack head to hell that is robbing my home and threatening my family? Im like you Mudcat, just an ole redneck so I need to have these answers in simple and precise terms. Thanks for indulging us. Just for the record I do like Mr edwards as a man and would be proud to know him but, yeah there is always a but, I have never voted a Dem. ticket and probably never will. John Edwards does interest me, however. Between Billiary and Osama he is a breath of fresh air.

Blue Ox

Yea, he totally dodged anything referring to concealed carry. But I'm a patient man and I got nuthin' but time. The answer will come soon enough.


So questions about killing an animal or catching a fish are OK, but the weapons used or where you do this (National Forests) bare off limits? No wonder this guys in third place!

Tommy S.

Yeah, I agree with Yooper and GREG.
Also, sir Mudcat, I don't know anyone that owns a "machine gun", I do however, know many folks that own AR's and AK's that are not automatic. Of course they can be altered fairly easily.

Is Mr. Edwards looking to ban those types of guns just because they COULD become fully auto?

Very Important point.

I concede those guns are way overboard for hunting or protecting one's home, however I would say if he were to want to ban them he would face very stiff opposition to those that say...
"because I can".

And they should be able to say that. If someone wants to shoot up their barn with a semi-auto AR - so be it.

Enforce the laws on the books! Guns don't kill. People do. Get minor drug offenders out of prison and keep violent criminals in, regardless of what they committed a crime with; be it knife, shovel or gun.

People are killed with far less menacing things than guns...kind sir.

Tommy S.

Guys we really need to pin him down on that one.

Blue Ox

I could wipe out a LOT more people with my 2500HD than I could with any gun.

Tommy S.

Oh shoot - we should ban those too!

Blue Ox

And do you know how many people are killed each year by tripping over hazardous objects like the ground? Gonna ban that, too?


Technically whats the difference in a semi auto shotgun and a semi auto AK? Dont want to get down to blueprints. Functionally they are the same. That scares the absolute crap out of me. They ban one and it opens the flood gates!

Blue Ox

And do you know how many people are killed each year by tripping over hazardous objects like the ground? Gonna ban that, too?

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