Where do sportsmen go from here?

With the recent defeat of Proposition 109, every sportsman must ask the question, where do we go from here?

But first, let me do a little speculating on what happened in this last election.

I suspect that asking the general public to vote to change our state's constitution which would have given all our citizens the right to hunt and fish was just too much to ask for. After all, only 10 percent of those in the state participate in sport fishing or hunting.

Or was the public's opinion formulated by a well-funded and admittedly anti-hunting group that spent a quarter of a million dollars to spread a message that proponents say were misleading, and in some cases, just downright lies about Prop. 109?

I call it buying into "The Sky is Falling" rhetoric.

As I read the different news releases by the groups who opposed Prop. 109 and who were rejoicing at the final tally, I couldn't help but think how so many Arizonans had, in my opinion, missed the boat on this one.

For instance, Stephanie Nichols-Young and Karen Michael of the Humane Voters of Arizona said, "Arizona voters need to speak up for Arizona's animals ... Please vote to protect wildlife and constitutional initiative rights that have been in Arizona's constitution since Arizona became a state."

Are you kidding me?

Does anyone really believe that these folks do anything for wildlife in this state other than litigate? No, it is the sportsman, the hunter and the anglers who are the real conservationists in Arizona and in America, the group who always steps up and supports wildlife.

Want to know how many projects to improve wildlife habitat that help out Arizona's diverse wildlife those folks have attended or how much money they had donated in the past to make projects happen?

I'll tell you right now, they don't do projects. They have never sweated a drop at a sheep or mule deer water project nor have they put any money on the table to help fund those projects that are worked on by volunteer sportsmen.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HUSUS, the group that put out $250,000 for advertising against Prop. 109, said, "Prop. 109 is a solution looking for a problem. Given that no animal welfare groups have launched or even threatened to launch a statutory initiative on hunting."

Really? Isn't this the same guy who said, "If we could stop sport hunting in a moment, we would do it."

Doesn't that sound like a threat? It sure does to me.

If there was anything positive I saw from the election was that thankfully most of the voters in the rural counties, including Mohave County, saw through this well-orchestrated smoke screen and voted to support Prop. 109.

Once again, it was the voters in Phoenix and Tucson, and not those in outlying areas where most of the wildlife work is done, who really decided the fate of Prop. 109.

No matter how or why it happened, the bottom line is the people of Arizona have spoken, and we as sportsmen and women are going to have to live with it.

Will we stop working and financially supporting wildlife and habitat projects in Arizona just because we got kicked in the teeth? Nope, we'll still be out there, building waters, improving the habitat and cleaning up ranches while these so-called animal welfare people rejoice in glee at their victory.

And as we have done in the past, we'll extend an invitation to these "wildlife supporters" (and to those that voted no on Prop. 109) to help build more wildlife waters and preserve more habitat, and we'll ask them to partner with us financially to make it all happen.

But I won't hold my breath waiting for them to join us or to send in a check.

They've not done it in the past, and I see no reason why they would do it in the future.