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From: ODN News ~ Dick Nelson, Hudson Valley Newspapers
Time: 12:23:51 PM
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
SPORTSMEN'S GROUP EMBRACES SHUMER? Atricle written by ~ Dick Nelson, Outdoor Writer, Hudson Valley Newspapers A story in an upstate newspaper reporting on yet another of Sen. Chuck Schumer's weekly news conferences wouldn't ordinarily get my attention. As far as I'm concerned the senior Senator from New York is nothing but a windbag who would say and do anything for his own political gain. What drew me to the story was Schumer's all so sudden empathy towards hunting. What surprised me about the article was that the New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC) was there bolstering Schumer's words. Held on a farm in Washington County, Schumer was joined by NYSCC president Howard Cushing -- who by his sheer presence alone gave credibility to the anti-gun politician's newfound love of the sport. While the news conference was held to bring attention to a bill that would provide $50 million to farmers nationally, it reeked of Schumerism - inasmuch that it had little if any substance. According to our newest best friend, some of the money from the "Open Fields" concept would be earmarked for conservation easements on farmland for hunting and other recreational uses. Cushing agreed with Schumer's appraisal, which he repeated two day's later during our telephone conversation. According to Cushing he reached out to the democratic Senator after the Republican's turn their backs on the proposal. This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. This is about opening more privately owned land to hunters," Cushing said. Still the fact that Cushing turned to someone who has a long history of voting against sportsmen, has a lot of people questioning his leadership. "What was he (Cushing) thinking? This was no more than political camouflage," said New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vice president Russ Williams. "How could he align himself with Schumer knowing his political persuasions." Charlie Bevilaqua, NYSCC Region 1 director answered one question with another. "The Open Fields concept is a great idea, but where was Howie and Chuck when we lost 20,000 acres of hunting land in Sullivan County. Frank Hartmann and Jack Demeres must be spinning in their graves." Columbia County Sportsmen's Federation president Don LaValley, a close friend and ally to Cushing for years had first shrugged it off saying it was probably a photo opt. Cushing, who recently addressed the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation in Washington, DC has been traveling with some high profile people as of late, and some council members' feel he is trying to advance his stature. Personally I don't believe that to be true, but as LaValley later said, "Howard is going to have some explaining to do. This could come back to haunt us." One explanation Cushing gave to me, was that he was trying to build a bridge between sportsmen and democrats, hoping that Schumer will back off a bit. "If I can get him to change his position on one of every five pieces of legislation that effects hunting and guns, it will be worth it," Cushing said. Of course Schumer couldn't pass up the opportunity to play to the press, even if his comments was contradictory to his voting record. "I'm a firm believer in the right to bear arms. Why shouldn't I be? The Second Amendment is as important as the First, the Third and all the others," Schumer was quoted as saying. Hmmm. With that philosophy, maybe the National Rifle Association made a mistake when it listed him as one of America's most anti-gun Senators. This kind of behavior is exactly what I wrote about last week when I told you about the new anti-gun initiative. It's called "Taking back the Second amendment - a seven step blueprint for Democrats to promote responsibility and win the gun vote." Developed by the Americans for Gun Safety the program was crafted to separate gun owners from their firearms, by deceiving hunters and other gun owners into voting for gun-ban candidates by telling voters they support hunting. Obviously Schumer is familiar with the program, because he followed the outline to the letter. I only hope it doesn't come back to bite Cushing on the rear, because he has been working hard to bring the 300,000-member organization forward. Then again maybe there are enough people like Mike Zagata, executive director of the Conservation Alliance of New York (CANY) who sees this strange alliance in a different light. "Good for Howie," Zagata said. "Conservation has been known to make for strange bedfellows. CANY supports any initiative that increases the opportunity for substantial use of our natural resources including hunting, fishing and trapping." When contacted, NYSCC first vice president Bill Connors had no comment. Dropping anchor 'til next time.