Wild Things: Attack on the Shooting Sports?

The Biden Administration is receiving pushback on a plan that could withhold federal funding in schools that offer archery or hunter education programs.

National Shooting Sports Foundation Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs Larry Keane said the decision to block millions of dollars of federal funding from scholastic programs that benefit youths is wrongheaded.

Scholastic hunting education and target shooting programs foster generations of the nation’s safest and most responsible gun owners, Keane said.

The National Archery in the Schools Program had 1.3 million students from nearly 9,000 schools across 49 states enrolled last year. Meanwhile, nearly a half-million students are trained and certified in hunter education courses annually, though most are done outside of school hours.

In New York, the state recently completed a three-year youth hunting pilot program and the safety record is unquestionable (more here:

A press release from the Gun Owners of America stated, “Many children who cannot compete in more traditional sports, like football or basketball, can excel in other forms of competition, such as shooting sports and archery.”

Writing for, Chris Dorsey said the Biden Administration appears to be twisting the intent of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) passed last year by blocking funding from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to schools that offer hunter education and archery programs. BSCA prohibits ESEA funds from being used to provide training in the use of a “dangerous weapon.”

Dorsey wrote that psychological health experts warn that removing programs that encourage outdoor activities will add to the nation’s mental health epidemic. In a recent Pew study, 70 percent of teens say anxiety and depression are major problems.

Extracurricular activities, Dorsey said, help instill a sense of belonging, improved social development, and opportunities to develop leadership skills, cooperation and peer interaction – key antidotes to widespread feelings of anxiety and depression among our youth. 

Last year, the Administration proclaimed that “President Biden has made tackling the mental health crisis a top priority.”

If that’s the case, defunding efforts like hunter education and the archery and trapshooting programs that get youths off screens and outdoors seems extremely short-sighted, at best.

Last month, 66 House Republicans pressed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to restore funding for archery and hunting programs, citing the long safety records and the opportunities the programs provide for students.

Similarly, 19 Republican senators asked the administration to withdraw Education Department guidance, specifying that federal funds can’t be used for firearm training programs. 

“While the administration claims to be eliminating dangerous activities, this guidance will, in fact, have the opposite effect,” the senators wrote. “These programs provided thousands of students with the opportunity to learn proper instruction for firearm and archery safety.”

Since much of the funding for shooting sports programs comes from student fees, donations, organized fundraisers or state funds, could this just be more political theater? Perhaps to some extent. But consider that Senator Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, is also concerned about how the interpretation of the gun law may affect school archery and hunting programs.

“In Montana, our schools have long offered shooting sport and hunter safety classes that play an important role in teaching safety and personal responsibility to students,” Tester said in his letter to the Administration. “Outdoor recreation is foundational to our western way of life and any reduction of federal support for these educational programs is unacceptable.”

Salmon Run is On

Chinook salmon that survived a gauntlet of predators as fingerlings and thousands of anglers as adults are homing in on the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and the Ahnapee River and other Lake Michigan and Green Bay tributaries.

Armed with stout casting rods and large spinning reels spooled with hundreds of yards of strong line, hopeful fishermen head out to piers, docks and shorelines to try their luck. Glow spoons and fresh or cured skein fished from dusk to dawn are the ticket for most, though stickbaits, spinners and jigging spoons can also attract strikes from spawn-minded “kings.”

Pier fishing in Lake Michigan is allowed 24/7, even after the night fishing prohibition on tributaries kicks in Sept. 15. 

Starting next Friday, fishing by any method is prohibited from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise in most Green Bay and Lake Michigan tributaries. 

For specific rivers and creeks, see pages 64-65 and 70-71 in the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations, in print, or online at

Elsewhere, yellow perch, walleyes, bass and pike are attracting anglers to the waters of Green Bay, and panfish and bass are active on area inland lakes.

Water Levels Drop

Lake Michigan water levels dropped an inch in the past 30 days, are three inches lower than last year, and 28 inches below the monthly high set in 2020.

Water levels are expected to drop another three inches by early October. Lake levels are still six inches above the 100-year average, and 36 inches above the record monthly low, set in 1964.