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News for Immediate Release
Mar. 14, 2016
Contact: Kristyn Brady, 617-501-6352, firstname.lastname@example.org
The second-annual tournament to decide America’s favorite game or fish species starts today
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has once again launched its “Critter Madness” bracket-style contest to determine America’s favorite game or fish species. Voting for the first of four rounds with 16 species begins today at crittermadness.org.
Modeled on the popular NCAA basketball tournament, Critter Madness is entering its second year. In 2015, American sportsmen and women cast more than 10,000 votes for their favorite big game, upland, waterfowl, and fish species. Last April, the iconic elk of the American West emerged as the winner.
This year, the elk will defend the title against bighorn sheep, whitetail deer, turkeys, pheasants, tarpons, brook trout, bass, and more. The Critter Madness champion will be announced on April 4.
Participants are encouraged to register before voting to be eligible for weekly contestant prizes, which include a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses, a new Abu Garcia rod and reel, a custom TRCP Yeti cooler, and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.
Talk about ‘the fabric of our lives’
When we get together as a staff, as we did last month to open the TRCP’s new Western office, discussion inevitably turns to new hunting and fishing gear and gadgets. Between us, we probably have enough inventory for a Bass Pro Shop’s store, and I’m certainly not immune to the appeal of a new camo pattern or unmarked slate call. Still, while a new spring season brings the temptation of new gear, there are a few items in my closet that I’d have trouble replacing.
The gloves I’ll use this turkey season are the ones I stole from my dad years ago. He bought them back in the 80s, and they looked less tattered back then. I’ll hunt in the same camo jumpsuit I wore when I was a kid—also my fathers—although I don’t have to roll the legs and sleeves up anymore.
And I still use the first turkey vest I ever bought new, going on 15 years ago. An older Field & Stream model, now sporting faded fabric and some tears, it’s easily one of the most dated pieces in my spring get-up. When I first brought it home, it was two sizes too big for me—now, it’s two sizes too small. Its pockets are coated with the chalk I carry around to tune up my handmade cedar box-calls. The foam pad has seen better days and some of the zippers have stopped working, but I can’t picture setting up on a gobbler without it.
Of course, at the TRCP, we also talk a lot about preserving our hunting and fishing traditions and carrying on the legacy of one of the greatest conservation heroes in our country’s history. You see, it isn’t sentimental to look back, if there are lessons to be learned.
I was wearing my old vest when I killed my first turkey at age 13. It was a beautiful 20-pound tom that I could barely carry over my shoulder, its 11-inch beard swaying by its lolling head. I was also wearing it the time that I foolishly activated the trigger lock on my Remington 870 out in the field—the key was at home—leaving my gun functionally useless as turkeys gobbled at me all morning. (My dad still teases me for that.)
It has seen countless spring sunrises in several states. It has been between my back and many a pine tree and creek-bottom hardwood. It has been through pouring rain and oppressive heat. It may be the reason I’m still so bad at math, since I used to skip my first-period class in high school to go hunting. The experiences I’ve had in this vest most likely drove my decision to work in wildlife conservation.
Something about wearing a worn-in article of clothing on a hunt just feels right. As I take in my surrounding with my eyes, my gear is actually soaking up the elements, bringing me closer to the places I love to be outdoors. I’m still a sucker for all the new high-tech fabrics and thoughtful improvements of contemporary gear, but it’s tough to part with my more seasoned apparel, embedded with so many memories.
So, when the last stitch on my old turkey vest looks like it’s about to unravel, I think I’ll just put it away until my own kids are old enough to slide their skinny arms into its oversized and faded frame. When that day comes around, I hope I’ll be able to tell them how today’s sportsmen helped ensure that we could rest our backs on a pine tree and converse with a wiley gobbler.
Until then, turkey season is calling.
Congress needs to stay committed to funding levels set in 2014, and more sportsmen’s groups than ever before are joining the outcry.
Yesterday, a broad coalition of 254 organizations—representing hunting and fishing, agriculture, nutrition, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy, trade, local government, labor, equipment manufacturing, and crop insurance—delivered a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to reject calls for cuts to any Farm Bill program in the ongoing discussion of fiscal year 2017 spending bills. This diverse group includes a greater proportion of conservation and sportsmen’s groups than any previous coalition.
It took Congress over three years of debate and compromise to send the 2014 Farm Bill to President Obama’s desk with bipartisan support. The result of that unprecedented effort was a Farm Bill that consolidated more than 100 programs and is estimated to save as much as $23 billion before 2024.
Many of the Farm Bill’s reforms impact sportsmen. On one hand, we saw the Conservation Reserve Program dramatically reduced from 32 million acres to just 24 million acres. On the other hand, the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program will deliver $1.2 billion through 2018 to projects benefitting clean water, soil health, and wildlife habitat.
Just as for sportsmen, there is some good and some bad in the Farm Bill for every one of the groups that signed the letter, but now is not the time to revisit the merits of the legislation. The conservation, farm, and food stakeholders all agreed to these reforms, so we want to see them preserved through the end of the current Farm Bill—not trimmed or debated again before their time.
Make no bones about it—when the Farm Bill needs to be reauthorized in 2018, all of us, including the TRCP, will fight for improvements to the programs that we care about. But, for now, we agree: Congress should uphold the existing agreement, and not re-open the Farm Bill this year.
You can read the letter here.
Bring your best bracket game and help name America’s favorite game or fish species
While most of the country has hoops on the brain, we’ll be thinking about hooves—not to mention fins, wings, and spurs. Because, as March Madness rolls around, the TRCP is once again setting out to crown a different kind of champion: America’s favorite game and fish species.
Last year, the brook trout made a Cinderella run, but in the end, it was the mighty elk who took home the title in our first-ever bracket-style tournament. Will the bugle sound again? Or does your favorite species have what it takes?
Here’s your chance to settle the score.
On March 14, we’ll launch the second annual “Critter Madness” tournament, with 16 species competing for the hearts of hunters and anglers through April 2. Using the irrefutable science of bracketology, we’ve matched up all your favorite critters head-to-head across four divisions: big game, upland birds and waterfowl, freshwater fish, and saltwater fish. Your votes determine which species will advance to the championship.
We’re also offering fantastic prizes at the conclusion of each round. Register now and your name will be entered in all four raffles—you could walk away with a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses, a new Abu Garcia rod, a custom TRCP Yeti cooler, or a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.
If it’s bragging rights you crave, get your friends online to vote and make sure your favorite species doesn’t get bumped. Use #CritterMadness on Facebook and Twitter to tell everyone which critter is going all the way to the Final Fur—er, Four. Post a photo of you with your championship pick, and we’ll repost our favorites.
Register now, and we’ll email you Monday with a reminder to vote. Then log on to crittermadness.org and check out the round-one match-ups.
Let the madness begin!
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More