Having Hunters’ Backs: The NRA HLF’s Year in Review

Having Hunters’ Backs: The NRA HLF’s Year in Review

Frequent visitors to the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website ( are aware of how the NRA works diligently to protect our rights as hunters and gun owners. Consequently, our job at is to bring hunters the latest news on the hunting issues that are important to all of us. With no further ado, let’s look at some of the biggest stories we brought you in 2022.

Coverage of the continued assault on conventional lead hunting ammunition continued throughout the year, as those wanting to see such ammunition banned haven’t backed down a bit. On June 13, the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) posted a story noting how the USFWS claimed the lead ban proposal was “based on the best scientific data available,” yet there is no data that shows traditional ammunition is causing population declines for any wildlife species at any wildlife refuge.

Later, our September coverage explained how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dished out both the good and the bad. The USFWS pleased hunters and shooters with the announcement of its final rule that increases hunting and fishing access on 18 national wildlife refuges, but the news was offset by a lead ammo ban on those properties hidden several paragraphs down in the announcement. Finally, in November we told readers how yet another group, the so-called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), sent a petition to Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Department of Interior, asking her to ban the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on all property managed by the National Park Service.

screen grab of nra hlf story regarding hunter access on public land

Coverage of the gray wolf management issue on both the state and federal levels was also significant in the editorial mix. In February, a California federal judge restored federal protections for gray wolves across much of the United States—a setback for scientific wildlife management and a victory for those who wish to see the species managed based on emotion and politics. The National Rifle Association and other conservation groups moved quickly, urging the Interior Department to appeal the relisting and later filed a formal court appeal challenging the decision.

screen grab of nra hlf story regarding gray wolf management

When the USFWS missed its court imposed deadline to conduct an in-depth review and analysis of gray wolf populations and management and make a determination about future management plans, anti-hunters filed another lawsuit, this time over the missed deadline. Our wolf coverage for the year ended with the revelation that a federal judge in Montana rolled back many wolf regulations in that state—where hunting is still considered a viable wolf management tool—to what they were in 2020. Check back with in the coming months as there is likely more to come on this topic.

Often presidential politics and hunting collide, prompting us to cover numerous Biden-related topics throughout 2022. In May we reported how the Biden administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI) abruptly closed millions of acres of public hunting land in Alaska to caribou and moose hunting during the prime rut-hunting months of August and September. In late August, we again reported how American hunters and shooters were under attack by the Biden administration, this time in Arizona. The DOI published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing plans to reexamine public shooting access on the Sonoran Desert National Monument and to conduct an associated environmental assessment. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) quickly sent out an alert to members explaining how the plan included a proposal to shut down access to hundreds of thousands of acres that are currently open to recreational shooting, which would decrease available public lands by 90 percent.

Continuing our presidential coverage, in October we told the story of how President Biden appointed Ryan Busse—an anti-gun activist and paid adviser to gun-ban groups—to the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council, a direct slap in the face to sportsmen. Finally, just before Christmas we reported about how President Biden’s recent attack on all “semi-autos” is a direct attack on hunters. In fact, the president said it is “sick” that semi-auto firearms, common for many types of hunting with both rifles and shotguns, are allowed to be sold in the nation.

During 2022 we also continued to chronicle the consistent growth of the award-winning online NRA Hunter Education course, which certified its 100,000th hunter. The latest state to accept the free course as a prerequisite to getting a hunting license was Alabama, which teamed up with the NRA in October to launch the course in the Cotton State.

Another important issue covered in-depth was an anti-gun ballot initiative in Oregon that would have a devastating effect on hunters, as well as all gun owners in the Evergreen State. While voters foolishly passed the initiative, which creates a government registry of firearms and a permit requirement for buying a gun, the Oregon Supreme Court temporarily put the measure on hold because the state has no system in place for the permitting scheme.

For just a few highlights in the new year, we’ve covered how the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 will aid chronic wasting disease research and management, providing $70 million annually through fiscal year 2028. We reported on a national study documenting the importance of access to land in aiding the R3 movement to “Recruit, Retain and Reactivate” hunters. On the state front, we checked in with New Jersey on its recent black bear hunting season after noted anti-hunter Gov. Phil Murphy had no choice but to reinstate the season he’d banned amid increasing bear attacks and other encounters with humans. And for all the new hunters out there—and for seasoned hunters who have not yet travelled overseas to hunt—we’ve covered some tips for that overseas safari just in time for the 2023 hunting show season. It will come in handy if you’re considering booking your first international hunt while attending the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 4-12, or the Safari Club International Hunters’ Convention in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 22-25.

It has been our pleasure to cover the issues important to hunters and the future of hunting and wildlife conservation each week since the website launched in 2016. Please stay tuned as the rest of 2023 unfolds.

About the Author
Freelance writer Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years, previously serving as editor of the NRA’s America’s First Freedom.