2012 is in the bag. It’s been a wild ride for hunters and anglers. We’ve seen some pretty low points, including the death of the Sportsmen’s Act, lack of passage of Forest Jobs and Recreation, Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, increased polarization of hunting and angling issues (especially funding these programs), conflicts over bison, wolves, trapping, bull trout, lake trout and land management. Relations between sportsmen and landowners/outfitters are at all time lows. This upcoming legislative session looks to be as contentious as the last one.

It’s easy to look around and see the negative. It’s human nature to focus on what went wrong in the hopes of fixing it later. But all of that pales compared to the highs of 2012.

This year I was able to watch the sun rise over the continental divide as I chased elk and wolves. I saw the sun set over river breaks that Lewis and Clark traveled. I helped a friend take a fine buck, the largest he’s ever harvested. I was with a friend when he shot his first deer. I’ve fished clear mountain streams, brawling tailwaters, and hiked in some of the most magnificent country in the world.

These things all might seem small in the bigger picture of wildlife conservation but this is what we work towards–our time in the woods.

In the bigger picture: We’ve blazed new trails. The Bully Pulpit nation has grown to almost 4,000 folks who care about conservation. We’ve had some fantastic discussions about the issues and for the most part, we’ve been able to find common ground. The influence and power of conservation organizations grow and become a force to be reckoned with both nationally and in Montana. New lands are open to hunters and anglers through programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Habitat Montana.

The vision is growing: the Montana model of wildlife conservation is taking off around the nation. How we ensure the future of hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation will surely change over the next few years, but we’re ready for the conversation, and we’re ready to continue to defend the legacy.

With the upcoming legislature, your time and money is needed more than ever.

Hellgate Hunters and Anglers will be at the legislature defending the Legacy. Will you?

Visit the Bully Pulpit here.

Image courtesy Land Tawney

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