Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017
By Mark Carter
"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." So said Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."
Department of Interior holdovers from the Obama administration must certainly now realize they aren't in "Kansas" anymore. In fact, as of this week, they're in Big Buck Country.
DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke, appointed by President Trump earlier this year, continued his crusade to re-emphasize hunting in the department and across the country. On the heels of announcing a secretarial order to re-introduce hunting access to many national monument sites, Zinke on Tuesday announced the addition of the arcade game, Big Buck Hunter Pro, to the DOI cafeteria.
He also announced the "Secretary's Shotgun Showdown," an employee competition with bragging rights and a "beverage on the balcony" at stake.
The contest began Tuesday and runs through October 11.
DOI spokesperson Heather Swift told America Hunt that the addition of the game is part of a larger strategy by Zinke to re-emphasize hunting at the department.
"He did this to show that this administration takes a drastically different approach toward promoting hunting and target shooting than the last, and to highlight the multi-billion dollar contribution hunting and fishing make toward conservation at the department...and maybe to get people excited for hunting season," she said.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke takes on FWS employee Casey Stemler in the first round of the Shotgun Showdown. (DOI)
According to a DOI news release, the addition of the game also is intended to increase employee awareness and involvement, thereby enhancing the department's mission of wildlife and habitat conservation.
“Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That's something I want more families to experience," Zinke said. “Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America. because sportsmen contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be. The 'Shotgun Showdown' will help reignite the passion and emphasis of hunting and fishing at the department, and will be a fun way to advance our mission of wildlife and habitat conservation."
The Shotgun Showdown was launched with a game between Zinke and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service career employee Casey Stemler, a Littleton, Colorado, native who has hunted and fished on national wildlife refuges and public lands across the country for more than 45 years. (No word yet on who won round 1 of the showdown.)