Gun Laws & Legislation

Pandemic Induced Cabin Fever? Check Closures Before Heading Outdoors

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Mark Oliva

Work from home sounded like a great way to steer clear of infection and maybe slip out to the back forty for a morning turkey, spring bear, wild hog or even a predator hunt. After all, hours are gained back without commutes and if you’re working from home across from your spouse, it’s likely they’re looking to call Human Resources to file a complaint on their new office mate.

Besides, hunting is the perfect social distancing activity, as was noted here before. This time of year, it’s not like hunters are cramming into duck blinds. Some of the best spring hunting is better six miles apart, rather than just six feet.

Busy At Home

Admittedly, NSSF has been busy. Just a few weeks ago, it was noted about some states announcing restrictions on hunting. Most of the focus for the firearm industry trade association, however, was on keeping the industry open. After all, manufacturers still had orders to fulfill, especially for Department of Defense contracts. Local retailers still needed to supply the majority of police departments with their own firearm and ammunition needs. Most importantly, though, fundamental God-given rights still count, especially during a pandemic. America thought so too. In March, more than 2.3 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm. That’s the highest number on record since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) began in 2000.

Like most hunters, though, there’s the urge to get outside, get away and reconnect with nature. It’s time to take our place in the food chain, put some well-earned wild game in the freezer.

Thank You, MeatEater

While NSSF was busy keeping gun stores and ranges in business and updating NSSF’s COVID-19 Resources for FFLs with how closure notices were affecting business, the good friends at MeatEater have been keeping a close eye on what the restrictions mean to hunters and anglers alike. They’re updating it as often as possible, so check it out.

It can be a little tricky, so be sure to stay on the right side of the law and regulations. Most of the restrictions are for nonresident hunters, for obvious reasons. State governments are trying to minimize the transmission of infection. Before facemasks start fogging shooting glasses, read the fine print.

Know Before You Go

Kansas stopped selling nonresident hunting licenses for turkey season, but those who already bought a nonresident license can still hunt. Nonresident hunters might want to settle in, though. Those who travel from states listed on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s “Travel Quarantine List” must adhere to a 14-day quarantine after arriving in the state. In Michigan, there’s no issue with getting out on the water as long as it’s done with paddle power. The use of a motor is restricted. In New York, all public boat launches are closed. Montana closed nonresident turkey and bear hunts through April 24, but the state is offering refunds for hunters who already purchased tags. Washington State postponed spring turkey and bear hunts until May 4.

It’s a tricky time. Every hunter wants to make the most of each day they can get into the woods and fields. The pandemic made it even trickier. Still, hunting is open for the most part. Get out, and if possible, take someone else and join NSSF’s +OneSM Movement. Chances are every hunter knows someone else who is itching to get out of the house and now is the perfect time to introduce someone new to the hunting heritage.

Mark Oliva is Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industries. He is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Zaire.