Destroying the Givers

Sponsored by: HECS STEALTHSCREEN, IMB OutfittersCobra Archery, Heartland Wildlife Institute, ATSKO

By: Dr. Dave Samuel

Much as I’d rather not write about political issues, it’s hard not to given the steady stream of poor decisions coming out of the present administration in Washington, D.C. Time after time as I watch the news I find myself shaking my head and asking where has common sense gone? Really.

We have increasing regulations in everything. The opportunities to drill offshore for oil are highly restricted by growing regulations, yet we lend money to Brazil to develop their offshore drilling. What am I missing here? I just read that we have a major shortage of cancer pills for kids and those pills have worked to eliminate cancer for years, yet production is way behind because of new regulations. Silliness. Stupidity. Pick a word.

It is obvious that relative to our debt, things will get a lot worse in the future. Apparently our debt is now greater than our output and we’re putting more and more people on the federal payroll. Wait till the Healthcare bill is fully implemented and see how many new federal jobs that brings. Look what is happening to Greece. Eighty percent of all jobs there are federal jobs. Once you have one, you have it and the perks it brings, forever. So now their government is broke and people are rioting because they have to take cuts. Could this happen here? If we stay the present course the question isn’t if it will happen but when?

OK, what does all this have to do with wildlife and hunting? Actually, a lot. One major example. I was at a party the other night hosted by a friend who started with nothing but scraped and worked hard and now has huge financial resources. He loves to hunt and so he hunts a lot. His passion is sheep and he has taken a number of grand slams. While at the party he was on his cell phone participating in bidding for a Governors tag for sheep in Wyoming. Actually there were two banquets going on around the country where Governors tags were being auctioned and he was bidding on both.

A few Governor's tags for sheep are auctioned off each year and bring valuable money to conservation.

As most of you might know, here’s how the Governors tag thing works. States give a few hard-to-draw tags to conservation organizations. Those organizations use that money to augment the millions they already spend on habitat, conservation and fighting to preserve hunting. I’m talking groups such as Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, etc. Most of such organizations have an umbrella foundation that is a 501(c)3 organization (or the organization itself is already in that tax status). Under that heading, donations of certain types are tax exempt. That means if you donate to those organizations you can make a claim on your taxes for that year. The amounts you can claim vary but from what I’ve learned, buying a Governors tag for a species allows you to make a claim on your tax deductions.

So my friend buys a tag and by passes the normal draw system. The negative for the buyer is that these tags are auctioned and the price tag is usually very high. The positive for the buyer is that he/she gets a hard-to-draw tag and they also get to deduct the cost or some of the cost, on their income tax. In truth, if that tax right-off wasn’t there many bidders would drop out.

Now states don’t give many Governor’s tags away simply because those tags are worth a lot and because they don’t want to anger the hunters who put in year after year in hopes of drawing such a tag. Most times the state only gives one or two such tags to organizations to be auctioned off for big money. They do it to help organizations carry the conservation load. The plus is that the organization then gets a big chunk of money for conservation and habitat work.

With our growing debt, everything is on the table for revenues. One way or another you will pay more taxes. You already do. Be assured that tax deductions will go down as the government looks for money. It’s happening right now. Medicare costs to the elderly will go up. Social Security payments will go down. Tax deductions of many kinds will go down. That could include the money you give to church, the United Way, etc. Remember that slogan we heard from the present administration when he was running for President? ‘No new taxes’. Seems to me it was the same rhetoric we heard relative to ‘transparency’.

Right now we are a weak country with weak people. We’re headed in the exact opposite direction from where the strengths of this great country lie. Independence, self reliance, are quickly disappearing and people are letting the government make decisions for us. Bad idea. There is fear. And we are letting it happen.

But relative to hunting, consider the outcome of changes in the 501(c)3 law. What if conservation organizations and other organizations that do good for society suffer losses from changes related to 501(c)3 donations? What happens to them? What happens to the conservation work they support? Do you see what such a loss has to do with the future of hunting? Everything.