10 Politicians Looking Out for Our Sportsmen's Rights

These politicians have shown they're watching out for sportsmen.

Politics and conservation are very intertwined, especially with the heated political climate in the United States right now.

Hunter numbers are dropping, and some state and federal agencies are struggling with funding and wildlife management.

Some are worried about our shooting sports rights and sportsmen's rights in general and are looking for politicians who say they'll protect both wildlife resources and the right to pursue our favorite pastimes.

Before we get started here, let me just state for the record that I do not have any party affiliation myself. Unless you count "frustrated" as a political party! When it comes to Democrats and Republicans, I'm not really a fan of what either party has done for the last decade or more.

For the purposes of this article, I'm going to ignore all the other issues that matter to me personally, and instead just focus on issues sportsmen and women will care about.

More specifically, I went looking for direct actions by lesser-known politicians that help advance conservation and land management, while also helping protect hunting, public lands and our natural resources in general.

There may be politicians across the political spectrum here, so don't get upset if you're expecting to see only one party represented.

Also, I tended to focus more on conservation and hunter's rights issues than Second Amendment gun rights, but we'll mention that too where relevant.

James Risch, Idaho Senator

Risch, a Republican, is on this list because he is the primary sponsor of some new legislation that recently passed: The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act. This bipartisan legislation is a huge victory for hunter recruitment. More specifically, the Pittman-Robertson Act established an 11 percent tax on archery equipment, firearms and ammunition nationwide. This money, in turn, goes to state agencies for use in wildlife conservation, research and hunter education.

But this newest revision will also allocate funds to go towards hunter recruitment and retention efforts, which is essential. So many state agencies struggle with funding these days.

For those concerned about the Second Amendment, he also has an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association on gun issues.

Brandon Creighton, Texas Senator

Creighton has an A rating from the NRA, but that isn't the main reason we put this Texas Republican on this list.

Creighton is on here because in 2015, he was the one who introduced the legislation that led to residents of the Lone Star State voting to make hunting and fishing constitutional rights forever. In case you were worried he was just pandering to hunters, there are plenty of photos on his social media accounts of him hunting and fishing, so you can rest assured he's one of us.

Kris Kobach, Kansas U.S Senate Candidate

Another Republican who has a high rating with the NRA, Kobach was formerly Secretary of State until last year. Right now, he's running for U.S. Senate.

He's an avid hunter who isn't shy about posting photos of his harvests on social media.

Kobach makes this list for being a big supporter of the constitutional amendment protecting hunting and fishing rights of sportsmen and sportswomen in the Sunflower State that was introduced in 2016 by former representatives Adam Lusker and Travis Couture-Lovelady.

Todd Gilbert, Virginia House of Delegates

Gilbert is an outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment, but the main reason we decided to put him on this list was because of his work on repealing Virginia's outdated Blue Laws on Sunday hunting.

Gilbert, a Republican, was the one who introduced House Bill 1237. This legislation finally opened Sundays as a legal day for hunting on private lands in Old Dominion.

That's a big deal, especially if you work full-time and only have the weekends to get out and enjoy the woods.

Bill Kortz, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

A Democrat, Kortz is a hunter and angler who clearly understands that sometimes mistakes happen when you're out hunting. He and Republican Representative Hal English introduced an interesting bill in 2016 that reflects that.

The legislation sought to protect hunters who made an honest mistake like shooting a sub-legal animal or hunting on the wrong date if they self-report it. Before that, hunters could lose their hunting license and rights even if they were honest about an unintended game violation.

This was a subtle piece of legislation, but a good one because it also protects law abiding honest hunters from getting punished in other states for a mistake under the Wildlife Violator Compact.

John Tester, Montana Senator

Don't let the fact that he's a Democrat make you think he's a city slicker. Tester is a farmer and has an A- rating from the NRA. If you're a supporter of wolf hunting, he has been very outspoken in his support for hunting them in the past.

The main reason we put him on this list is because of his efforts towards things like the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This program provides grants and funds to different state and federal agencies to acquire more land for public recreation.

Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Senator

The Democratic Senator was a co-sponsor of the Modernizing Pittman-Robertson Act we mentioned earlier, but that's just one of the things he's done for hunters and fisherman.

He has long been an advocate for hunting on public lands, and has sponsored bills designed to open restricted federal lands to hunting for the first time. He's also pushed heavily for the creation of new National Parks, Monuments and wilderness areas in New Mexico for all people who love the outdoors to enjoy.

Heinrich also co-sponsored the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act in 2014. This legislation granted some leeway in Pittman-Robertson to use the funds for public shooting ranges, allowed states to issue electronic duck stamps and provided additional funding for conservation in wetlands areas. 

Joe Manchin, West Virginia Senator

We mentioned the Land and Water Conservation Fund earlier in this piece. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was the lead sponsor of the legislation that reauthorized funding to protect public lands last April.

He also co-sponsored the Modernizing Pittman-Robertson Act and helped introduce the Recovering America's Wildlife Act. That legislation was aimed at reallocating $1.3 billion towards wildlife conservation projects, habitat restoration and grants towards recovery for endangered or threatened animal species.

He's also an avid hunter and isn't shy about showing it to the public, as you'll see in the video above.

Deb Fischer, Nebraska Senator

Fischer is a life-long Nebraska resident and Republican who has an A+ rating from the NRA on Second Amendment issues. She's also co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

She was another co-sponsor on that vital Pittman-Robertson legislation we keep mentioning. Fischer was also a big supporter of Nebraska's apprentice hunter education program during her time serving on the Natural Resources Committee.

John Boozman, Arkansas Senator

The Republican U.S. Senator is a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. You may have never heard of this commission, but they are heavily involved in the establishment of new national wildlife refuge areas.

Boozman has also recognized non-political threats to hunting. For instance, he co-sponsored the Chronic Wasting Disease and Transmission in Cervidae Study Act to further research the effects of the deadly neurological disorder that has spread across North America.

Oh, he's a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and he was another co-sponsor on the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act, too. It's safe to say he's got the future of hunting on his mind.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis Youtube channels