When Texas’ NRA-backed Right to Hunt and Fish constitutional amendment passed on Nov, 2, 2015, the measure brought the number of states guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish to 19. Leading the pack was Vermont, where language dates back to 1777. Constitutional provisions in the remaining 18 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming—all have passed since 1996, thanks in large part to NRA-ILA efforts.
As for some of the 31 states yet to formally guarantee sportsmen’s rights, advocates consider Alaska’s constitutional language—“Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife and waters are reserved to the people for common use”—as meeting the test because of its strong case-law history. California and Rhode Island, however, have language in their constitutions guaranteeing the right to fish but not to hunt. The Nevada legislature also passed such language in 2015, but it must pass another legislative session before it is put on the ballot.
Michigan, New Jersey and New York are still considering legislation that would refer a constitutional right to hunt and fish to voters. Kansas, Maine, Oregon and West Virginia debated bills in 2015, but they have failed to advance.
Clearly, while we hunters celebrate the success of a constitutional amendment in Texas we have some work to do. For more information on NRA-ILA efforts to pass Right to Hunt and Fish amendments or to get involved in assisting NRA efforts in your home state, visit nraila.org.