“Put your money where your mouth is” is a wise saying that’s been around since the 1930s. It simply means, back up your beliefs with your hard-earned cash. Far too often, sportsmen talk the conservation/gun rights/save the outdoors talk, but don’t walk the walk when it comes to actually supporting organizations that fight the never-ending fight against the anti-hunters, lock-the-land up preservationists and gun-grabbers. While there are other “honorable mention” groups, including Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Quail Forever, Ruffed Grouse Society and International Hunter Education Association, among others, here is my list of the Top 10 pro-hunting organizations that deserve our financial support.

 

10. Pheasants Forever

Courtesy Facebook - Pheasants Forever

Courtesy Facebook – Pheasants Forever

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @pheasants4ever

Facebook: @pheasantsforever

Website: www.pheasantsforever.org

In 1982, a group of pheasant hunters saw the connection between upland habitat loss and declining pheasant populations. An organization dedicated to wildlife habitat conservation was needed, and Pheasants Forever was formed. Pheasants Forever’s mission work quickly garnered it a reputation as “The Habitat Organization,” a tagline the nonprofit conservation group uses proudly to this day. It boasts some 145,000 members, over 700 local chapters and has a diverse staff, including more than 100 wildlife biologists

 

9. Mule Deer Foundation

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @muledeerorg

Facebook: @muledeerorg

Website: www.muledeer.org

Up until the winters of 1983-84, western mule deer populations were strong. Then, across the West the record snowfall lingered long into spring and early summer. Many mule deer and blacktail deer perished. They mostly starved for lack of food covered by snow and from cold temperatures. That’s when Northern Californian Emmett Burroughs had a vision, and in July 1988, the Mule Deer Foundation was formed. It’s goals, among others, are to restore, improve and protect mule deer habitat (including land and easement acquisitions). This results in self-sustaining, healthy, free ranging and huntable deer populations; encourage and support responsible wildlife management with government agencies, private organizations and landowners; and to support regulated hunting as a viable component of mule deer and black-tailed deer conservation. It’s a small but active group that I strongly support.

 

8. Boone and Crockett Club

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @BC_Club1887

Facebook: @BooneAndCrockettClub

Website: www.boone-crockett.org

Founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, this is the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America. It was the initiator of the first National Parks, including Yellowstone, Glacier, Denali and Grand Canyon. It was also the initiator of the first legislation for wildlife, including the Timberland Reserve Bill, Yellowstone Protection Act, Lacey Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Alaskan Game Laws. It was the champion of the earliest science-based wildlife management efforts and legislation, including the National Wildlife Refuge System Act, and the creation of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units; the first legislations funding wildlife conservation, including the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson), and the Federal Duck Stamp Act; and it pioneered and established the principles of responsible, ethical, and sustainable use hunting known as Fair Chase. I’ve proudly been a Professional Member of the B&C Club for many years.

 

7. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Courtesy Facebook - RMEF

Courtesy Facebook – RMEF

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @rmef

Facebook: @RMEF1

Website: www.rmef.org

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. RMEF was founded in 1984 by four hunters from Troy, Montana, who wanted to ensure a future for North America’s elk. Today, RMEF has more than 500 chapters across the country. Since its inception RMEF has opened, secured or improved public access to more than 911,000 acres of elk habitat across the country for hunters, hikers, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. One thing I like: you can go to the website and download current audited financial statements and federal tax returns so you know where the money is going. As of January 2016 membership stood at nearly 220,000, but I jumped on the bandwagon early — my membership number is 438.

 

6. Quality Deer Management Association

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @TheQDMA

Facebook: @TheQDMA

Website: www.qdma.com

Founded in 1988, QDMA has more than 60,000 members in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Since the beginning QDMA has worked to educate all deer hunters about the benefits of the Quality Deer Management (QDM) philosophy. This effort — aided by the support of numerous member-volunteers, corporate sponsors and other QDM advocates — has rapidly increased awareness and implementation of QDM throughout North America, resulting in healthier, more balanced deer populations and more rewarding hunting experiences. As it grew in membership and influence, QDMA also began working to secure a sustainable future for wild whitetail deer through practical research and by advocating for wise policy and regulation that will protect our hunting heritage. Additionally, QDMA works to attract, assist, educate and guide young and new hunters to ensure they become tomorrow’s stewards of whitetails and all wildlife.

5. National Wild Turkey Federation

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @NWTF_official

Facebook: @THENWTF

Website: www.nwtf.org

When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.5 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of dedicated work, that number has hit an historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. The foundation of NWTF’s success? Standing behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. There are currently almost a quarter-million NWTF members — but you don’t have to be a turkey hunter to belong to, and benefit from, the work of NWTF. For example, its Save The Habitat, Save The Hunt program is a bold initiative that all conservationists and hunters should get behind.

 

4. Ducks Unlimited

Courtesy Facebook - Ducks Unlimited

Courtesy Facebook – Ducks Unlimited

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @ducksunlimited

Facebook: @DucksUnlimited

Website: www.ducks.org

In 1927, an offshoot of the Boone & Crockett Club was established specifically for sport bird management and was operated until 1930 as American Wild Fowlers. In 1937 this group, led by publishing tycoon Joseph P. Knapp and a small group of conservation philanthropists, decided to focus on the decreasing waterfowl populations and the habitat necessary to sustain them. And so, Ducks Unlimited (DU) was born. Today the group remains dedicated to the betterment of waterfowl and waterfowling in all of North America. DU has helped build and restore more than 13.8 million acres of prime waterfowl nesting habitat, including thousands of miles of vital protective shoreline and is working towards the development of additional nesting habitat in the United States and Canada. In January 2016 DU had about 700,000 members.

3. Safari Club International

Annual membership fee: $65

Twitter: @safariclubintl

Facebook: @safariclubinternational

Website: www.safariclub.org

SCI’s been around since 1972, and today boasts more than 55,000 members spread among 190 chapters around the world. It has two primary missions: encourage appreciation for nature and wildlife and save wildlife habitat, and protecting the rich hunting heritage of sportsmen worldwide. SCI has a strong presence in Washington, D.C., and since 2000 has spent more than $140 million protecting the freedom to hunt through policy advocacy, litigation and the education of state and federal legislators. It conducts worldwide conservation and education programs through the Safari Club International Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to wildlife conservation, outdoor education, and humanitarian services.

 

2. Sportsman’s Alliance

Courtesy Facebook - Sportsmen's Alliance

Courtesy Facebook – Sportsmen’s Alliance

Annual membership fee: $35

Twitter: @SportsmensAll

Facebook: @sportsmansalliance

Website: www.sportsmensalliance.org

Originally known as the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America and Wildlife Conservation Fund of America, the organization formed in 1977 after Ohio Ballot Issue 2 threatened Ohio’s trapping community. After leading the fight to successfully defeat the bill, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance was officially incorporated in 1978. During the summer of 2015, USSA’s name changed to the Sportsmen’s Alliance in an effort to decrease name length and enhance brand recognition.

SA boldly challenges the anti-hunters and anti-trappers, and never shies away from getting right in their faces. The group achieved a monumental victory in 2010 after an eight-year battle to ensure hunting access on 100 million acres of the National Wildlife Refuge system ended with a victory over the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted SA’s request to delist the Western Great Lakes Region wolves from the endangered species list in 2011, making way for wolf hunting seasons to reopen. Building on this success in 2012, SA pushed federal legislation aimed at protecting hunting, fishing and trapping on public lands, otherwise known as the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act. The group is perhaps the most pro-active and vocal group supporting the use of dogs for hunting with their Dog Wars campaign as well as fighting the anti-hunters nationwide.

 

1. National Rifle Association

Annual membership fee: $30

Twitter: @NRA

Facebook: @NationalRifleAssociation

Website: www.nrahq.org

What do you need to know about the NRA? Its playbook runs much deeper than simply supporting the Second Amendment.

While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. Today it boasts nearly five million members. As former Clinton spokesman George Stephanopoulos said, “Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They’re good citizens. They call their congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time.” Also, the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action, www.nraila.org) fights tirelessly to protect your Second Amendment rights. The NRA is committed to providing assistance to its affiliated clubs and ranges across the country. The NRA Clubs & Associations Department provides assistance to NRA affiliated clubs, associations, and businesses. NRA Range Services offers a number of resources to public and private ranges. The NRA is also a staunch pro-hunting organization. Simply put, if you believe in the Second Amendment, own a firearms, are a recreational shooter, hunter and conservationist, you need to be an NRA member. It’s that simple. I’m a proud Life Member.

 

What are your thoughts? Have I left any important groups off my list? Are you a member of any of these, or other important pro-hunting organizations? Drop m a note at brobb@grandviewmedia.com and let me know.