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IBEW, USA Member Aids Fishery Research That May Benefit Anglers Nationwide

August 17, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, General

fishery research

USA member Dave Halverson holds a healthy Iowa muskie captured for tagging and future study.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance member Dave Halverson is helping complete ground-breaking fishery research that could help other anglers catch more muskies and walleyes on reservoirs across the continent.

Halverson, 35, hails from Truro, Iowa, a short cast south of Des Moines. A member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 347, the hard-working electrician has been charged up over muskies for years.

“I love their absolute power and elusiveness,” he explained. “The feeling I get from watching a giant muskie chase down and inhale a lure at boatside is incomparable—and watching the fish swim away after release keeps me coming back.”

Halverson’s passion for muskies led him to help launch the Mid-Iowa chapter of Muskies, Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to improving muskie fishing.

“One of our main goals is promoting muskie conservation through catch-and-release,” he said. “We educate people that these fish are much better off in the water, where others can enjoy them for years to come, than they are on a dinner plate or a wall.”

fishery research

Halverson assists researchers inside a tagging station.

But Halverson didn’t stop there. He and fellow club members donated time and financial support to a 5-year fishery research study by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa State University that could have implications for muskie and walleye management across the country.

“We provided volunteers to help biologists capture, tag and release fish this spring,” Halverson said. “To date, we’ve volunteered approximately 35 hours, but expect that figure to reach 200 hours by the project’s completion. We also secured a $2,000 Muskies, Inc. grant and used it to purchase 1,200 tags for the study.”

According to Iowa DNR biologist Ben Dodd, the research targets the dynamics of fish loss in man-made reservoirs due to escapement over dam spillways and is being conducted on central Iowa’s Brushy Creek and Big Creek lakes.

“Muskie abundance in Big Creek Lake declined following heavy spring rains from 2007 to 2010,” said Dodd. “The fish were going over the spillway and scattering downstream. In 2012 we partnered with the Corps of Engineers, Big Creek State Park, Recycled Fish and Central Iowa Anglers to install a fish barrier at the Big Creek spillway.”

The barrier proved effective, but Dodd and Dr. Michael Weber of Iowa State University suspected some fish were still going with the flow. “To manage the lake so that it provides quality muskie fishing without throwing the food chain out of balance, we needed to know more about the number of fish lost and the variables related to escapement,” he said. “Walleyes are another important gamefish species affected by this issue, so we are studying them as well.”

fishery research

The study aims to determine the effectiveness of this fish barrier placed at the spillway Big Creek Lake.

Fishery research began in the spring of 2016, as DNR biologists and Iowa State researchers captured muskies and walleyes in both lakes and implanted tags that can be detected by automated readers located on the spillway of each lake. “Big Creek has a fish barrier and Brushy Creek does not, so the findings will help us compare the two scenarios and evaluate the effectiveness of the barrier,” Dodd said.

Halverson and other Mid-Iowa Muskies club members joined the fishery research effort in 2018. “Dave and other volunteers assisted us with electrofishing and netting fish, transporting them to a tagging station on shore and releasing them back into deep water in the middle of the lakes,” said Dodd. “These guys have been great to work with. It’s a nice partnership that enhances our ability to conduct valuable research with limited resources.”

While the study still has two years to go, Dodd said early results are already enlightening. “We’ve lost 170 tagged walleyes and 25 tagged muskies from Brushy Creek (no barrier), compared to just 13 walleyes and 5 muskies on Big Creek,” he said. “So, the barrier is definitely making a difference.”

The fishery research data also provides a wealth of useful information on each escapee. “We can tell the size, age and gender of the tagged fish that pass through the readers. We are also gathering data on other pertinent environmental factors, including water level, time of year and water temperature,” said Dodd. “On Big Creek, we’re really only losing a small number of younger fish and the larger, more valuable fish are staying in the lake.”

Dodd believes the study’s results could someday guide walleye and muskie management on impoundments far from the Iowa study area. “We will eventually present our research, which could help other fisheries biologists and ultimately improve fishing opportunities in reservoirs around the country,” he said.

For Halverson, such a prospect makes time spent volunteering even more rewarding. “It can seem like a second full-time job now and then,” he laughed. “But it’s definitely worth the effort.”

Halverson also has a message for his union brothers and sisters. “If you’re passionate about an outdoor sport or pursuing a particular species of fish or wildlife, get involved with an organization to protect that tradition and pass it along to future generations,” he says. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Muskies, Inc. are two examples of groups that can help you make a difference.”

Written by Dan Johnson

Catching Summertime Crappie and Catfish Day and Night

August 16, 2018 in Articles, Fishing, General


Summertime is made for inviting friends and family for a fish fry. Two delicious fish to catch day or night are crappie and catfish. These fish bite best when the current is running. Or, in a lake without current, both crappie and catfish will hold on the thermocline, a place where cool water from the bottom and the warmer top layer water meet along the edges of underwater creek and river channels, humps, drop-offs, brush and ledges.

Taking Summer Crappie Day and Night Crappie and Catfish

Avid crappier Jonathan Phillips of Wetumpka, Alabama, knows that summertime crappie will relate to underwater structure that can’t be spotted without a depth finder and uses these tactics when he fishes crappie tournaments all across the nation.

“I like a Humminbird Helix 10 HD side scanning and down scanning depth finder,” Phillips says.

Since Phillips generally fishes offshore in a main lake or the main part of the river where jet skiers and pleasure boaters create waves, he explains, “Instead of using multiple poles and spider rigging during the summer, I’ll fish with a single pole with either a double- or a single-minnow rig straight down to where I’ve located the crappie with my depth finder.”

He also uses maps like Navionics and Humminbird’s LakeMaster, searches for contour bottom changes and scans with his depth finder around underwater structure to know where crappie are ganged-up.

Phillips compares catching summer crappie in deep water to picking cotton. “Start at the top of the school, catch as many crappie as possible, move deeper into the cover or the ledge, and then catch the center of the crappie school to keep from spooking other crappie.”

Phillips usually has 50-100 crappie locations identified and says, “I never try to catch all the crappie on any Crappie and Catfishlocation.”

When he drops a buoy on top of a school, he explains that he wants his minnow, “dancing right above the crappie. I’ll tight-line with live minnows and fish larger-profile jigs, due to the big size of the spawned shad. You must keep your minnows alive with a battery-powered aerator in a cooler containing ice treated with Better Bait Systems to get rid of chlorine and the minnows’ ammonia problem.”

The amount of weight Phillips fishes depends on depth and current, primarily 1/2- to 3/4-ounce on 8-pound-test hi-vis main line with a slip sinker above a barrel swivel and 18 inches of 6-pound leader with a #1 wire crappie hook at its end. If vertical jigging, Phillips fishes a chartreuse-colored jig or a jig with a chartreuse tail, doesn’t tip his jigs with minnows and uses fish attractant.

To avoid the heaviest boat traffic from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, he often fishes with his wife Alicia at night near deep-water boat docks with lights that attract baitfish and crappie. However, they’ve learned the best summer crappie bite often occurs from just before daylight until 10:00 am.

Crappie fishermen across the country use these methods of catching crappie as well as longline trolling with jigs and/or crankbaits, fishing small inline spinners, side-pulling hair jigs tipped with minnows, shooting docks with jigs and fishing shallow water and deep water blowdowns with minnows.

Catching Daytime Summer CatfishCrappie and Catfish

Everyone knows tailraces are productive places to catch summer catfish in the daytime. Dams are summertime catfish-catching sites, and locks offer long concrete walls leading into the lock where baitfish and catfish hold. Motor up to the lock wall, run beside the wall with a depth finder to spot baitfish and structure, kill your motor and start fishing.

Most dams have wing walls in front of their floodgates, coming from the base of the dam out into the water, with the concrete above the water extending below the water. The end of an underwater wing wall often will have a hole that’s been created due to the tremendous amount of current at the end of the wing wall when the floodgates are open, and/or water comes over the dam. Below the dam too, the underwater rock piles will yield catfish.

Catfish may hold in the slack water created when turbines run side by side, and the underwater rocks break the current, forming a slack-water groove or seam. Bumping the bottom for catfish there is very effective.

Many anglers fish for cats with abrasion-resistant 15-20-pound line and check their lines every time they catch a catfish to identify the damage done by the catfish. The sharp, bony spines on a catfish’s dorsal and pectoral fins will nick and cut line. Some catfishermen will move 10 – 12 inches up the line, pinch on a 1/2-ounce split shot, tie a #2 Eagle Claw Pattern 84 hook onto the end of the line, and fish with live threadfin shad minnows. This size hook allows you to hook the threadfin shad through the nose without killing it.

Taking Big Catfish by Day and NightCrappie and Catfish

During the summer whether the current’s running or not, Phil King of Corinth, Mississippi, who’s won numerous national catfish contests, as well as participated in international catfish competitions, searches for monster sized catfish – 12–100 pounders – in holes in the bottoms of lakes and rivers by day and at night.
“I use my depth finder to locate holes in the bottom and often can spot catfish holding in front of a hole, in a hole or in a second drop-off in the hole,” King explains. “I define a hole in the bottom as a small depression that may only be 4–5 feet wide and 6–10 feet long, or it may be a deep bottom break that runs for 1/2-mile downriver.”

To fish the holes, King likes a two hook rig baited with fresh chicken livers, sometimes dipping them in red food coloring. Here’s how King rigs to fish holes. His main line is 60-65-pound test braided line with a heavy duty three-way swivel tied to it. Coming off the second eye of the three-way swivel, King ties 2 feet of 60-pound monofilament line and a No. 5/0 or a No. 8/0 circle hook. On the bend of the hook, he attaches 2-4 inches of 60-pound monofilament line and adds a second hook, since he fishes for very large catfish. Coming from the third eye of the three-way swivel, he ties 2 feet of 60-pound monofilament and attaches a 1-4-ounce lead sinker, depending on the current.

“When I go downriver to fish holes, I think about how to position my boat and how to fish those holes,” King reports. “I’ll start fishing above the hole and bump my baits back with a controlled drift, using my trolling motor, so that I can catch fish in front of the hole first. If the cats are in a feeding mode, they’ll be out of the hole and from 5–10 feet out in front of the lip of the break. If they’re not in a feeding mode, they’ll be down in the hole.Crappie and Catfish

“Let your lead and your bait drift back about 40 to 60 feet from the boat as you bump the bottom and while you’re holding your boat against the current with your trolling motor. You want to feel your lead tag the bottom slightly as you walk the bait back to the edge of the hole and allow the lead and the bait to fall into the hole. Continue to bump the lead back along the bottom of the hole.”

To catch the very big cats, remain silent in the boat anywhere around the hole. King has discovered that the bigger a catfish is, the more sensitive it is to sound. Then you can catch, photograph and release a monster catfish.

*** Be sure to check the regulations in your state about the sizes of catfish you can keep.

Written by John E. Phillips 

8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

August 13, 2018 in Articles, General

Growing up in a little northern Wisconsin town, my brother, John, and I were wild kids that spent all of our free time in the woods and waters near our home. There was no internet then, we didn’t have cable TV and we lived to be outside. For us, every day was a new and exciting adventure of our own choosing—we swam, climbed trees, caught frogs and snakes, built stick forts and let our unbound imaginations steer our lives. We were untamed and unencumbered by all of the woes of the world. We were wild children!

Our kids today have it much tougher. The invention of the internet, smart phones, Netflix and 200 channel TVs are robbing them of the wild upbringings we had. Today’s plugged-in, tuned-in, logged-on world is inhibiting their natural adventuresome spirits. The good news is that it’s not too late—grand adventures still await those who seek them. Here are 8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors.

8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors:

1. Camping8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Camping is simple, easy, affordable and fun. A cheap tent, a couple sleeping bags and, most importantly, a positive attitude and you can turn an overnight in the backyard into a wild adventure to a new, undiscovered place. If your kids are really young, start with a night in the tent in the living room, then in the backyard and then to an actual campground. Ease into it, and avoid camping if it’s wet or cold until they are seasoned campers. A roaring campfire and headlamp for each kid helps ease the fear of the dark. Lots of food and snacks keep tummies quiet and happy too. Campgrounds are plentiful and easy to find with a little research. Our family prefers National Forest campgrounds because they are typically more remote and have more distance between the campsites. Most feature a lake or other natural point of interest that can provide additional opportunities. Check out to find a campsite that suits your comfort level.

2. Kayaking8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

The surge of interest in small kayaks is easy to understand once you paddle one. People young and old love being on the water, and a 10 or 12-foot kayak is affordable and easy to paddle. Their small size, slow speed and quiet propulsion provide a more intimate connection to the water and the wildlife that surrounds it. Our family frequently paddles the rivers around our home. Getting a few friends to join in adds to the enjoyment and helps with pre-positioning vehicles. We typically plan two to four hour paddles starting upstream and ending at a bridge or take-out where we can leave a vehicle. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in a scenic spot and a waterproof camera to capture the scenery. Websites like can help you find a paddling adventure near you.

3. Geocaching

Geocaching offers a simple but thrilling premise to kids. Use a simple GPS device to find hidden treasures! Kids and adults love the allure of navigating and searching not knowing what will be found at the cache. Geocaches are everywhere; I bet you have one within a few blocks of your home. Visit the website and set up a free account. Then search for caches that you would like to look for. Typically, most caches will have marked trinkets that you can take and then relocate to a different cache. You can log your finds on the website and begin marking off geocaches found on your family trips. Plus, it is a good excuse for you to get that new GPS you have been thinking about too.

4. Campfire Cooking8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Cooking over a campfire brings out something primal in kids. The simple act of cooking a meal becomes a lesson about where their food comes from. There are lots of fun campfire recipes, but simple hobo meals like a hot dog on a stick or s’mores make it fun and easy to cook over an open fire. If you take the time to plan ahead and do a little of the prep work ahead of time, cooking over a campfire can be enjoyable for adults too. Always have a backup plan to feed the hungry if things get burned or don’t turn out. In Boy Scouts, we start the kids with basic, fun foods and, within a couple years, they are making gourmet meals in Dutch ovens over open fires.

5. Fly a kite

Modern kites have come a long way from the old cross framed ones we used to make from dowels and paper and then promptly crash. The new aerodynamic delta designs make modern kites easy to fly and beautiful to watch. For a young child, it is hard to beat the magical experience of holding onto a string while a kite pulls and dances in the sky on the other end. Kite flying is affordable, and the equipment can be used over and over again. Pick up a couple of kite kits and help the kids build and decorate them. They will love the time spent with you in anticipation of watching something they have made soar high into the blue sky. Have the kids help watch the forecast for a day with some steady winds. Then head to the local park or open space for a couple of hours of fun.

6. Rock Climbing 8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Getting into rock climbing is not difficult, and good spots can be found all over. Rock climbing doesn’t need to be as extreme as highly technical climbs on steep pitches. Instead, think about climbing lower angle rocks and hillsides. With some basic safety training, single belay line, a simple harness and helmet, you can be off for a grand adventure. I recommend hiring a guide the first couple of times to learn the basics and experiment with equipment. Typically, they are affordable and excited to teach the sport to newcomers. The big thing to remember is not to over complicate it. Kids naturally are curious climbers. Just add in a measure of safety, and the enjoyment of a day exploring rocks will trump Snapchat any day.

7. Take a hike8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Turn a simple walk in the woods into an adventuresome hike exploring a new and wild place. Bring the camera, binoculars and a birding book to maximize the time on the trail. Make a game out of who can spot the most bird and wildlife species. The level of enjoyment on a hike is totally set by you. If you bring a level of excitement and discovery, the kids will too. Bring along a pack with plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen and bug spray. Each hike can be framed as a new journey with untold wonder with you as the guide. Point out things that might be obvious to you but not the kids, such as plants, animals or landscape features. This is your chance to impart your woodsman knowledge onto the next generation.

8. Photography

Photography is a way for kids to look at the outdoors through a totally different lens. A camera can steer kids to discover new and beautiful things they might not normally notice. Tell them you are taking them on a photo safari. Then go to a local natural area to explore with camera in hand. Set out on your safari to discover and document bugs, birds, flowers, landscapes, sunsets and wildlife of all kinds. Digital cameras can be found in a variety of price ranges to fit your budget. I recommend spending as much as you can afford on a camera. Cell phone cameras still lag in picture quality when compared to a quality DSLR camera, and the point is to get the kids away from their phones and connected to the world around them. The photos you take together while on your safari will forever remind you about your time together venturing into new and wild places.8 Ways to Connect Kids to the Outdoors

Take this list of ideas to the kids. Then, hide their smart phones and get outside to pursue some adventures in the great outdoors. Fun, exciting and engaging outdoor activities bring out their imaginations and will help them find their inner wild child.

Written by Bob Barteck, IAFF Local 425 Alumni


Shotgunning Tips to Help You Break More Clays and Drop More Birds

August 7, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

shotgun shooting tips

Accuracy doesn’t happen by accident. Whether you’re on the firing line at a trap range or taking aim as a rooster pheasant flushes in the field, there are tricks to hitting the target.

To boost your odds of making every shot count, we offer the following five timely shotgun shooting tips. Keep in mind there’s no time like the present to put these shotgun shooting tips into practice, since August is National Shooting Sports Month, organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance allies at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. For more information and to locate a shooting facility in your area, CLICK HERE.

Get Fit

It doesn’t matter whether you’re gunning for upland game or clay pigeons, proper shotgun fit is crucial to consistent success. The reason is simple: If your gun doesn’t fit, it might not shoot where you’re looking.

A number of factors come into play, including length of pull, pitch and drop at both comb and heel. Good news is, simple tests can help you check fit, such as lining up the beads to form a figure-eight and making sure you’re not crawling up a short stock or over-extending your form due to a protracted length of pull. If you have any doubts about a shotgun’s fit, work with a reputable gunsmith for a solution.

Make Yourself Comfortable

Shooters who find their comfort zone hit more targets. One of the best ways to achieve stress-free shotgunning is to become intimately familiar with your firearm, so there’s no fumbling or hesitation at the moment of truth. Practice is key to making this happen, so don’t skimp on range time.

A comfortable shooting position also boosts success. Shooting coaches like the legendary Rick Marshall Jr. recommend finding your most comfortable position and then assuming it whenever possible, so you can swing the barrel with no restriction of movement.

shotgun shooting tips

Trap shooting ace Rick Marshall advises shooters to stay focused and be comfortable, confident and familiar with their firearms.

Stay Focused

Total concentration helps avoid misses fueled by distraction. When you begin to mount the gun, focus on seeing what you want to hit. Toward that end, Marshall suggests using a catch phrase to keep your mind on point.

The words are up to you. Since the goal is to help you focus, short and sweet phrases are best. For example, when trapshooting, Marshall tells himself to “see the target” right before he calls pull. “That way, when the target comes out, I see it and break it,” he says. “It’s as simple as that.”

Chin Up

A poor attitude can kill your accuracy faster than almost anything. “Shooting is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Marshall tells students. ““Keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself, even after you miss a shot. I’ve seen too many shooters get discouraged after missing a target, then miss two or three more shots because the negative energy drags them down.”

In a similar vein, staying positive in the face of adversity such as inclement weather, strong winds or other challenges serves you better than complaining or worrying about them.

Practice With A Planshotgun shooting tips

Practice makes perfect, but the goals of practice are more important than just shooting. The secret to productive practice is not shooting as much as you can, but practicing with the goal of improving what you do. Otherwise you just repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Next time you head for the range, identify an area of your shooting you’d like to improve, then figure out how to fix it.


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Expands Communications Team

August 3, 2018 in General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has expanded its communications department with the addition of Dan Johnson as the organization’s new public relations manager.

Created by and dedicated to union members and their families, the USA is stepping up its communications efforts to keep pace with a record-setting increase in projects and events aimed at uniting union members for conservation, outreach and community service.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is committed to extending our conservation impact, serving our growing community of union members, and calling attention to the increasing influence organized labor and union volunteers are having in the battle to preserve our outdoor heritage,” said Brian Dowler, the USA’s director of membership, marketing and communications. “With his union background, communications experience, and love of hunting, fishing and the outdoors, Johnson is a great asset to our communications team.”

A veteran communications and marketing professional, Johnson served as communications director of the North American Gamebird Association, senior editor of North American Fisherman magazine and public relations manager for Lindy Fishing Tackle.

He has worked closely with outdoor industry clients including Pure Fishing, Savage Arms, Federal Ammunition, The Bass Federation and Cabela’s, and collaborated with organizations including Wildlife Forever, Pheasants Forever and the National Shooting Sports Foundation to increase public awareness of the many threats to North America’s natural resources and outdoor traditions.

Johnson is also a proud past member of United Auto Workers Local 879, having worked three years on the assembly line in the body build department of Ford Motor Company’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I am honored at the chance to support the USA’s efforts to preserve our outdoor heritage, while sharing with the world all the great stories of hard-working union brothers and sisters volunteering their time and talents in the name of conservation, mentorship, public access and the betterment of their communities,” said Johnson.

The USA recently marked a number of milestones, including its 10th anniversary, 100th Work Boots on the Ground project and a decade of the USA Shooting Tour. The organization eclipsed all records for mission delivery and fundraising in 2017 and with the completion of a number of major projects across the country is on track to establish new benchmarks in 2018.

In addition to this historic growth, the USA recently forged strategic partnerships with the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever, Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which will allow the USA to supply critical funding, materials and skilled union volunteer labor to a variety of conservation, recruitment and retention efforts.

12 Tips to Help You See More Deer on Archery Opener

August 3, 2018 in General, Hunting

Archery Opener

1) Have Your Eyesight Checked and Improve Your Vision

Often hunters overlook the most critical tool to successful hunting – vision. I’ve always thought if you wear glasses, you can see better than people who don’t, and 20/20 vision and experience in hunting and shooting are enough to make someone a productive hunter. However, no matter how well you see, you can be taught to see better and to recognize what you see more quickly and accurately. According to optometrists I’ve spoken with, vision is the ability to use what you see to perform some task. For example, you use your eyesight to see a truck coming your way, but by using your vision, you know what to do to keep from getting run over.

“Being able to see deer in the woods, distinguishing bucks from does, perceiving direction of flight and then reacting quickly enough to take a shot are learned skills that can be developed and improved,” said Dr. Gary Etting, a developmental optometrist in Encino, California, who has worked with sports vision skills for U.S. Olympic teams.Archery Opener

2) Spend Twice as Much Time Scouting as Hunting

Bowhunter Dr. Robert Sheppard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says that to know you’ll have a buck in front of you on opening day, “Spend at least two hours scouting for every one hour hunting. Then less time is required to bag a buck.”

3) Pick Up Sheds and Use a Spotting Scope

Wildlife biologist Bob Zaiglin of Uvalde, Texas, reports that searching for shed antlers in the spring and the summer helps you to learn the numbers and sizes of bucks on the land you hunt. “Look for sheds and deer at naturally-occurring and manmade mineral licks in the summer to identify where deer are staying, besides watching farm crops, food plots and pastures to spot velvet anglers. I also use a spotting scope with a window mount to see deer from my truck in the summer.”

4) Meet the People Who Know Deer Where You Hunt

These people may see and know the locations of bucks on private and public lands and lands available for leasing – landowners, farmhands, wildlife biologists, foresters, timber cutters, school bus drivers, town barbers, bankers and postmen.

5) Know What Deer EatArchery Opener

Since deer are browsers and feed on more than 600 various types of plants, nuts and crops, you often can locate deer at many places. The local wildlife biologist for private and/or public lands can give you ideas of what the deer in your area prefer to eat at different times of the year.

6) Diagram a Green Field and Prepare Tree Stands and Shooting Lanes

First determine if a green field has quick access to dense cover, experiences little hunting pressure and is close to a place where deer travel. Identify the deer trails, pinpoint the best places for tree stands, and determine which way to approach a green field without your scent being carried there. Note that information in your GPS or logbook. Cut shooting lanes.

7) Pinpoint a Buck’s Core Area

“A deer must have three elements in its core area: food, water and cover, with cover being the most important,” Dr. Grant Woods, wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring, Missouri, says. “I define cover as a place where a deer feels secure and can avoid any disturbance that disrupt him by making him uneasy or raising his metabolic rate. Also constant wind direction influences the site a buck chooses for his core area, since deer use their noses more than their eyes for protection.”Archery Opener

8) Study Maps to Save Time Scouting

To look for places deer likely will be at the beginning of deer season, use Google Earth, Huntstand and OnX maps. With your cell phone’s GPS, you can get to the sites where you want to hunt with Huntstand and OnX, even in regions with no cell service. Also ( produces custom topographical maps, revealing where the high and low ground and water sources are. The aerial views can show you how much of the area is forested, nearby water sources and any development not visible from roads.

9) Set Aside a Sanctuary for Deer

The older, bigger bucks are the first deer to escape hunting pressure and move to sanctuary areas. One of the most common types of sanctuary areas are regions too hard to reach or too far away from an access road for most hunters to get. The second are little patches of thick cover that hunters walk past or don’t consider that they’re holding nice bucks. Alex Rutledge, nationally-known deer hunter from Birchtree, Mo., says, “Effective sanctuaries must have little or no human traffic.”

10) Choose Your Stand Site Last at Hunting Camp

Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife at Auburn University, once told me, “When I’m hunting private lands, I let everyone I’m hunting with pick the stand sites they want to hunt from that day. Then I take the area that no one else wants to hunt, and that’s often where I encounter bigger bucks – particularly on opening day.”

11) Use Attractants and Feeders Where Legal and Trail CamerasArchery Opener

To locate a buck to hunt on opening day, you need to be able to stop him, take a picture of him, watch him as his antlers grow and see where he goes after he leaves your attractant or feeder. Walk the edges of green fields to discover deer trails, and ask others about traditional deer trails.
A trail camera will help you determine what time of day or night the deer are appearing, as well as give you an idea of the buck-to-doe ratio on the property. Several cameras on the land will enable you to learn what trails bucks travel and where they are bedding.

12) Consider Hunting Cattle Farms

Alex Rutledge prefers to hunt cattle farms with their highly-nutritious soils that produce grasses and hay year-round and have water and pastures with thickets and shade trees. “The same needs of cattle equal all the same needs deer have.”

Written by John E. Phillips

Nichols Park Restoration Receives USA 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award

August 2, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park Restoration

Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jim Curry and Communications Director Debra Wojtek accepted the 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award from USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance (L) and Director of Conservation Forrest Parker (R) on behalf of the many union partners involved in the Nichols Park restoration.

Union volunteers’ restoration of historic Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, as a community gathering place in the great outdoors has garnered the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award.

Including follow-up work in 2018, more than 100 union workers from 23 union locals donated over 2,475 hours of skilled labor valued at nearly $91,000 and raised in excess of $13,000 for materials to complete a variety of critical improvements to the popular park.

Among the upgrades, volunteers replaced a pavilion roof, improved lighting, replaced picnic tables, cleared overgrown areas and replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier. Union volunteers also built and installed a new flagpole at the park entrance and constructed new camp-style barbecue grills.

Part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, the Nichols Park restoration project was a team effort by the USA, the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC).

“This project is a picture-perfect representation of what drives the USA’s mission and how the union community eagerly embraces the opportunity to unite for conservation and community service,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker, who announced the award July 24 at the USA’s annual Conservation Gala in Washington, D.C. “Union volunteers completely transformed an aging, poorly maintained city park into a place where the community can once again come together to enjoy the outdoors.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Union volunteers donated more than $100,000 in labor and materials to restore Nichols Park as a community gathering place in the outdoors.

Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason hailed the project and declared a special “Union Day” in its honor. “Restoring this historic park, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941, was fabulous for our city,” she said. “What union volunteers did would have taken months for city crews to even begin to accomplish. The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.

“We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city,” Clason added. “It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a dream getaway.”

Volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and skills to the Nichols Park restoration project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“It feels good being part of something that benefits your community,” said Oklahoma BCTC Executive Director Jimmy Fish. “I’m proudest of the new pier, which gives people a place to fish in the local area. It was very rewarding to see all the kids come down here and catch fish on it during the dedication celebration.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Among the many improvements to the park, union volunteers replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier.

Bow Season Starts Now: Summer Prep for Serious Hunters

July 31, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

Bow Season

The very first time I shot a “real” bow, I missed. When I say I missed, I mean the entire target… at 10 yards. I can still hear the sound of that Easton Gamegetter XX75 arrow skipping off the trees and rocks, breaking apart to its final resting place in the woods behind my childhood home. Maybe an archaeologist will find the mangled aluminum wreckage someday… I sure couldn’t.

It was my brother’s High Country Sky Force, some of you may remember that bow. It had dual-hatchet cams and that unmistakable early-90s camo. It was, for seven-year-old me, the most beautiful thing in the world, despite the fact that I couldn’t hit water in the middle of the Atlantic with it. I learned a few valuable lessons that day. First, if you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. Second, I don’t like to miss. Some may say it crosses the line into loath. Lastly, I wanted to know why I missed.

A few months later, my dad scraped up the money and bought me my very own bow. Thus began my journey into all things archery. Bowhunting, 3D, target, indoor, field, if there was a bow involved, I wanted to be signed up. Honestly, I’m glad I missed that first arrow. It ignited a desire to get better, develop my shooting and bowhunting skills, and it allowed me to learn why I missed.

Speaking of bow season, as hunters, we spend thousands of dollars on leases, countless hours setting treestands, setting trail cameras, planting food plots, scouting and much more leading up to bow season. We spend more time, effort and money than we care to admit in preparation of setting ourselves up for the perfect situation. Now, how many of us put that same amount of time and effort into the one factor we can actually control in this situation: shooting our bows?

This isn’t a “shoot your bow more” article, although we all should. This is the nuts and bolts of practicing more effectively and preparing your equipment for the moment of truth, and there’s no time like the present to prepare for bow season.



The most basic of the previously mentioned processes are your points of contact: feet to the ground, release hand, and grip position on the bow. You wouldn’t guess it, but just slightly changing the position of your feet (from neutral to open or closed stance) can drastically change impact points. Essentially, you are changing everything about your form from your hips all the way up to your shoulders, which will alter your orientation to the target. Find a stance that is comfortable for you and make sure your feet are in the same position, or as close to it as possible depending on terrain, each time you draw your bow.

Release hand position—or more importantly the consistency of that position— is important, but so is how you activate the release. You’ve probably heard about back tension, hinge releases, trigger releases, hand held releases, half-moons, click or no click, and the list goes on and on. At this point it’s important to find what works for you and what you can do every time you shoot your bow. Repeatability is the absolute key to accuracy in archery.

A repeatable grip position (with minimal lateral torque on the bow) is also important, but I’ve found through my own failures and testing that I have to make serious errors with my bow hand to have any noticeable impact differences inside of 50 yards, but the smallest deviation in form and position in my release hand can cause “flyer arrows” at 20 yards. Focus on how your release fits into your hand and how you are applying pressure to make the release fire.


Introducing someone new to the sport is a more than worthwhile venture in the summer. Not only do you get another shooting partner and someone to enjoy archery and bowhunting with, but it also helps you work through your archery frustrations prior to bow season.

TIP: You inherently have to break archery down into individual components when bringing someone green into the bowhunting fold. Doing so will not only help the newcomer, but it will also help you get back to those basics and take stock of the necessary things we all take for granted with archery.


There is a disconnect between every other organized sport and shooting a bow. In those organized sports, training is broken down into individual elements. It would be unheard of for a football team to scrimmage every minute of every practice without working on the fundamentals of the game. However, this is precisely what most of us do for archery. We draw our bow, make some shots, pull the arrows, and repeat. In essence, we are learning how to score arrows on the target, not how to shoot them in the middle and why they go in the middle.

Try breaking archery into the processes necessary to shoot a bow and work on a specific aspect of archery each time you find yourself at the range this summer. In simple terms, if you don’t break archery down into individual components, you’ll have nowhere to go when you miss— no way to get better because you land on, “I missed and have no idea why.”

TIP: Focus on one specific process at a time. Figure out where your weaknesses are and tackle them in training.


I don’t like the word practice—perhaps one of the few things I have in common with the great NBA player, Allen Iverson. To me, shooting my bow is about building confidence in myself and my equipment. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control the rut. The only thing you can 100% control is how prepared you are to execute the perfect shot when the moment comes. No one makes perfect hunting shots every time they are presented an opportunity. The point is to be as prepared as possible to increase your odds of making a perfect shot during bow season.

TIP: Pick up a shot counter from your local sporting goods store and record the number of perfect shots you make in a practice session. Be honest with yourself. When I say a perfect shot, I’m not talking about where the arrow lands, I mean how it got there. More on this later.



We all know real-life hunting situations do not equal perfect shooting situations. Shooting side hills, where you have uneven footing, affords one of the more technically tricky hunting shots with a bow. Limited hand-torque and keeping your sight bubble level is easier said than done, but keeping your bow level is key to downrange accuracy.

TIP: Make leveling your sight easier when shooting on a side hill by slightly tipping your top cam up the hill while drawing your bow. This allows the top cam to “fall” down the hill, to level, at full draw rather than fighting it “up” the hill to level. How you get the sight level has a significant impact on the amount of torque you are adding to the riser and by letting the top cam fall, you minimize the risk of adding unwanted torque.


If you are hunting out a blind, yes, you should practice sitting down while drawing your bow and executing a shot. We all know this. One thing that many bowhunters have overlooked, myself included, is how differently peep sights and pins look in a dark blind. Aligning your peep sight to your scope housing is critical for repeatable accuracy. It is also very easy to misalign your peep in a dark blind during bow season.

TIP: Paint the inside ring of your scope housing white so you can see it in ultra-low light. Nail polish and whiteout both work great here. Just make sure to give the correct one back to your wife.


Shooting on perfectly level ground is excellent for building proper form, but shooting out of a treestand or from any elevation is an entirely different ballgame. Most hunters have high misses from extreme angles because they have a breakdown in basic form and upper body alignment. Practice bending at the waist rather than bending at the shoulders to maintain proper alignment in your upper body. As Chubbs from Happy Gilmore would say “It’s all in the hips…”

TIP: Bending at the waist also serves to keep your eye-peep-scope housing alignment identical to flat ground. A tiny variation in peep alignment equals massive point of impact differences down range.



Whether you are trying to cure target panic or just can’t seem to hold the pin in the middle long enough, aiming your bow without executing a shot actively works to remedy these problems. I particularly like doing this drill after a day of shooting. Draw the bow, hold the pin in the middle of the target for as long as you can and let your sight picture tell you when you need to let down.

TIP: Repeat this process 5-10 times at the end of a practice session. You’ll be amazed at how difficult it is, at first, and how quickly your stamina and aiming improves leading up to bow season.


A recent trend in bowhunting is to shoot ultra-heavy arrows. To do this effectively, you’ll need to hit the gym—lifting weights so you can draw 90-pounds and shoot arrows that are heavy enough to nearly be classified as rebar. Or so some say… There are more factors to penetration than a heavy arrow. The most important of these, from my testing, is arrow flight. I’ll take a 50-pound bow with a light arrow flying perfectly and delivering all its energy on the tip of the broadhead over a 70-pound bow with a 600-grain arrow flying like a sputtering bottle rocket. Drawing more weight and having a perfectly tuned arrow is ideal, but you don’t have to run out and drop $180 on ultra-heavy arrows to get the penetration you need on most North American game.

TIP: Tuning your bow for perfect arrow flight with broadheads, broadhead design, and shot placement are far more critical, in my opinion, than slapping a heavy arrow and a setup and calling it good.


What’s the most critical part of a bowhunting setup? Is it the bow riser? The broadheads? Making sure your accessories match the color of your fletchings? Kidding. Without a doubt, strings and cables are the most critical and overlooked piece of equipment on a setup. They are the engine that drives the bow. They are also the most fragile and prone to wear. How often you need to change them varies significantly from person to person, depending on how much you shoot, how well maintained they are, how they are built, etc.

TIP: If you can’t remember the last time, if ever, you changed your strings and cables, change them over the summer. This way you’ll have enough time to get your bow shooting at tip top performance rather than changing them mid-bow season.


Arguably the most crucial piece of summer practice advice: count “good” arrows by how they got to the target, not where they land on the target. Proper form and executing the same shot, every shot, is the key to consistent accuracy. There are many ways to shoot a bow, but only one right way for you, and that comes down to shooting the same “shot” every time you draw your bow. Figure out what is most repeatable for you and build your form around that. You’ll be ready for bow season before you know it.

Written by Matthew Bray

You can find more hunting and fishing articles by clicking HERE.

Photos courtesy of Realtree

IUEC Member Pursues Trophy Kentucky Whitetails On Brotherhood Outdoors TV Series

July 25, 2018 in General


IUEC elevator tradesman Dave Morin of Oak Grove, Minnesota, pursues trophy whitetails in the rolling countryside of Kentucky when he appears in an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of July 22 on Sportsman Channel.

Morin, a lifelong outdoorsman and member of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 9, was chosen to appear on the show based on his union work ethic and commitment to sharing the outdoor experience with others.

Morin’s on-the-job duties as a modernization mechanic focus on decommissioning outdated elevators in everything from two-story apartments to downtown high-rises. He’s passionate about taking old elevators out of service so newer, safer equipment can take their place. “It’s not just a job,” he explains. “It’s a way of life. Choosing this career was the best decision I ever made.”

In his spare time, Morin organizes an annual walleye tournament for fellow union members. “The event is for fun,” he explains. “The main purpose is to bring people together outside of work, in the great outdoors.”

Morin grew up pursuing all types of game and fish with his brother and sister in the wilds of northern Minnesota. During his Kentucky whitetail adventure with Salt River Outfitters out of Lawrenceburg, he relies on skills and patience learned in the Northwoods as countless whitetails parade within range during the height of the November rut.

Whitetail bucks were on the move during Morin’s Kentucky dream hunt.

Catch all the exciting action when Morin’s episode airs Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping the country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming pronghorns, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

IBEW Member Enjoys Wild West Pronghorn Hunt This Week On Brotherhood Outdoors

July 18, 2018 in General, Hunting, Press Release

IBEW Member

Julian Smith, an IBEW member of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, enjoys a thrilling Wyoming pronghorn hunt when he appears in an upcoming episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing this week on Sportsman Channel.

A U.S. Army veteran and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 405, Smith was selected to appear on the show due to his union work ethic and commitment to the service of his country and community.

Smith is an active member of the Cedar Rapids Grants and Programs Citizens Committee, as well as the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. “These are great avenues for lending a hand and connecting with the community and other veterans,” he explains.

When not on the job, volunteering or spending time with family, Smith savors time spent outdoors, fishing or hunting. During his Wild West pronghorn adventure, he quickly develops an appreciation for the fleet-footed pronghorn’s ability to elude predators—as well as a love for the breathtaking scenery of the open country it calls home.

Catch all the exciting action when the episode featuring IBEW member, Julian Smith, airs this week, including Tuesday, July 17 at 4 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors is currently in its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures. Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, the series puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

The 2018 Brotherhood Outdoors season also features union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan waterfowl and black bears, Louisiana redfish and trophy whitetails in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE.

To watch episodes online, visit

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance & Union Veterans Council Collaborate To Service Union Veterans

July 3, 2018 in General, Press Release

Union Veterans

The USA’s Capital Area shoot celebrated the newly announced collaboration between the USA and UVC, along with the event’s 10th anniversary where more than 250 participants raised over $125,000 for conservation over the course of two days.

The Union Veterans Council (UVC), AFL-CIO and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), an affiliate organization of the AFL-CIO, recently committed to working together to support each organization’s mission and have identified a liaison who will help keep the partnership running at peak efficiency.

The announcement was made during the USA’s Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot at Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland.

“The UVC is proud to have forged a working partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that will allow the two organizations to support each other’s mission by connecting our memberships with two very important parts of the labor community, Veterans and Conservation/Sportsmen,” said William Attig, UVC Executive Director. “Sam Phipps, who is both a veteran and a strong union member, has stepped up to become our volunteer Liaison.”

The volunteer liaison position will allow each organization to expand capacity, to engage members and build a strategy to connect our union veterans with the outdoors.

“The USA reaches a lot of union members annually through our shoot tour and conservation dinners,” said Scott Vance, USA CEO & Executive Director. “We are taking steps to engage our veterans and say thanks for their service. Working with UVC, we’ll be able to reach out to a lot more of the veterans and give them a chance to come and fellowship with their brothers and sisters across the United States.”

Phipps is a UA member of local 562 in Saint Louis, Missouri, and is a combat infantry veteran and an avid outdoorsman. Upon returning home from his military service he entered the UA’s Veterans in Piping program and now works as a heating & air technician.

His unwavering support for his fellow veterans has driven him to work with his local to support programs that give veterans an opportunity to enjoy and use the outdoors as a way to better transition back to civilian life and build comradery on the home front. That is why the UVC is pleased to announce that Phipps will be the first Union Veterans Council-Union Sportsmen’s Alliance liaison.

Within this roll, Phipps will work to forge a working partnership with the USA in a variety of ways. “I am eager to take on this role with the Union Veterans Council and look forward to connecting with my fellow veterans through conservation and the outdoors,” said Phipps.

Photos courtesy of Pepper Ailor at Freedom Alliance


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Brotherhood Outdoors TV Kicks Off 10th Season

June 27, 2018 in General, Press Release

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 598 member Jason Lee of Richland, Washington, enjoys epic Saskatchewan waterfowl hunting in the season premiere of Brotherhood Outdoors.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance invites outdoors enthusiasts to catch the excitement when award-winning Brotherhood Outdoors TV kicks off its 10th season of whisking hardworking union members away on action-packed hunting and fishing adventures.

Produced by creative powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors TV puts the spotlight on union members who are as passionate about the outdoors as they are on keeping this country running. Each episode takes viewers to the homes, communities and job sites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field.

Up first in this year’s lineup, the feathers fly in the legendary farmland of Saskatchewan when UA Plumbers and Pipefitters representative Jason Lee hits the fields for a dream waterfowl hunt. Locked and loaded, Lee enjoys epic duck and goose gunning while bonding with guides and fellow hunters he meets on the trip. But it quickly becomes apparent there’s more to this Navy veteran’s story than his obsession for waterfowling.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

AFSCME Council 13 member Stephen Knoll of Lemony, Pennsylvania, targets Ohio whitetails during his dream hunt with Brotherhood Outdoors.

As the Brotherhood Outdoors TV season unfolds, viewers join union members in pursuit of New Mexico elk, Wyoming antelope, Louisiana redfish, Mexican permit and bonefish, Saskatchewan black bears and trophy whitetails in Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

The 2018 season includes nine original episodes, which will air on Sportsman Channel in the third and fourth quarters beginning July 3. Airtimes are Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern, with additional airings set for Tuesdays at 4 p.m., Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 1:30 a.m. Eastern.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV

IBEW Local 405 member Julian Smith of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, heads west for the Wyoming antelope adventure of a lifetime.

For a complete listing of upcoming episodes, CLICK HERE. To watch episodes online, visit MyOutdoorTV.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors TV is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Burris, Carhartt, Flambeau, Steiner, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.






11 Activities to Get Your Family Outside for Great Outdoors Month

June 13, 2018 in Articles, General

Great Outdoors Month

Summer is one of the best times to escape the indoors and connect with nature, and June just so happens to be Great Outdoors Month! We’ve compiled a list of various outdoor activities that you can enjoy with your family and friends, not only for Great Outdoors Month, but all summer long– so get ready for some summertime adventures!

11 Great Outdoors Month Activities:

Water SportsGreat Outdoors Month

Water sports are a great way to get outside and cool off on a hot summer day. Whether you have a small pond to yourself or want to go to the great big blue, there are multiple ways to get on the water. You can take it easy and canoe or kayak, or hop on a jet ski or tube and feel the adrenaline rush of flying over the water and waves. Fishing boats are another great way to get on the water, even if you turn it down a notch and just want to relax on the waves.

Great Outdoors MonthBiking

Biking is a family friendly activity that everyone can participate in. It’s also a great workout to keep you in shape for the upcoming hunting season—talk about an added bonus! There are multiple trails around the United States that also feature multiple terrains. Some will be paved and some will consist of dirt. Whichever you prefer to ride on, grab your bikes, round up your family and try viewing nature from two wheels for Great Outdoors Month!

PCamping Great Outdoors Month

Camping is an amazing way to get in tune with your true outdoors side. Our great country features some pretty incredible State and National Parks, and almost all of them offer some sort of camping. You’ll find places deep in the park that are compact and only have enough room to feature a tent, but you’ll also find campsites that are big enough for you to pull your fifth wheel camper into and set up a full campsite for a great trip with your family.

Pro tip! If you’re on a road trip, make sure to pack your tent! This will make for virtually endless car camping locations!

Great Outdoors MonthConservation

Caring about the well-being of America’s fish, wildlife and the lands and waters that support us all is something everyone who loves the great outdoors has in common. Participating in conservation efforts is one of our favorite Great Outdoors Month activities because it encourages us to escape the indoors and help preserve what we all love the most, the outdoors. There are many ways to volunteer for conservation. For example, you can clean up trash throughout a park, trail, beach or other body of water. A simpler example is to pick up any fishing line you find when you’re at your favorite fishing spot and recycle it at a nearby line recycling center, and if there isn’t one near you can always just put it in the trash can.

You can even work with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to complete a conservation project with your union local. Our conservation program, brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access, wildlife habitat and outdoor experiences for communities across America. USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

Campfires Great Outdoors Month

Campfires are always an easy go to for anyone who wants to sit outside with their family and friends on a nice summer night. They can also get you to adventure into the wilderness to collect the wood you need for your fire and the sticks for everyone to cook their marshmallows later that night for a great snack. However it is always important to know the fire regulations in your area. Also make sure to build your campfire in a well ventilated area and to keep it enclosed so it doesn’t spread.

Great Outdoors MonthFishing

Fishing is an all time favorite outdoor sport for all of us at USA, during Great Outdoors Month AND the entire summer! There are so many species to fish for—it’s truly impossible to get bored! You can catch anything from river cats to giant bass and bluegill. Some State and National Parks are having free fishing days as well that can be found here.

If you’re at the beach on vacation and want to get out and see what the ocean has to challenge you with, just head to a pier and rent a pole. If you’re really dedicated you can always hire a guide to help you try to catch sharks, stingray, and other species you may not be used to in your neck of the woods.

Great Outdoors Month

Hiking is a very calm and relaxing outdoor activity that many enjoy, and your location choices are nearly endless—if you have enough space you can even go for a family hike on your own property! Many State and National Parks also have hiking trails already ready for you to go adventure on, and you could also take your own route of a trail and go deep into the wilderness, just make sure you don’t get lost! And always make sure to clean up the trails you venture onto to keep our great parks preserved and pristine.

Great Outdoors MonthHorseback Riding

Now you’re usually either a horse person—or you’re not. For those of us that love horseback riding, you never go back. If you have your own horses and enough land to really get out and ride, then you already have a great option to go get outside and enjoy the wilderness. If you want to load up the horses and head somewhere new, there are many parks that allow horseback riding. Some beaches even have designated horseback riding areas if you ever wanted to know the feeling of riding a horse down the beach with the sounds of the ocean in the background and waves at your side.

No horses? No problem! There are tons of places across the country that offer affordable horseback riding lessons and trail rides for the whole family. All you have to do is put in a little time to research your best options.

Hunting PreparationGreat Outdoors Month

Hunting preparation is a must for anyone who wants to have a great season next fall, but it’s also a great way to get outside and do something that can be fun and also productive. Head to your go to spot and set up your trail cameras to find out what’s spending time in your food plots and at your mineral stations.

When you get home, don’t forget to spend a little more time outside for Great Outdoors Month and shoot your bow. You may need to sight in your bow and make sure that your shot is still as good as it was last season, but hopefully you’ve been shooting routinely all year!

Great Outdoors MonthGeo-Caching

Geo-Caching is an interesting activity where you go outside and find containers that contain random objects that could have been put in the container by anyone. All you need to do to find these containers is download the geo-caching app on your smartphone, use your GPS to find the caches near you, and then share your findings on social media for everyone to see. You can even get your whole family involved in this fun outdoors activity. You never know where geo-caching will take you, so it helps to be up for anything!

Off-Roading Great Outdoors Month

Off-roading can be a great way to spend time with friends and family, and a good adrenaline rush for anyone who loves the outdoors. Anything from dirt bikes, ATVs, and even trucks can be used for this fun outdoors activity. Some parks even have trails for these vehicles and can be rented sometimes. If you have enough space in your own backyard you can even make your own trail. Just make sure you wear your helmet and are following any regulations listed for the area you’re enjoying this activity in.


7 Foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsmen

June 5, 2018 in Articles, General

Father's Day Gifts

Still searching for the perfect Father’s Day gift for that dad who just can’t get enough of the outdoors? Whether he enjoys fishing, hunting, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, we’ve got you covered! Checkout our list below of seven foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for any dad who loves the outdoors.

7 Foolproof Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsmen:

FLAMBEAU T4 PRO MULTILOADER – $56.97 Father's Day Gifts

Flambeau’s T4 Pro Multiloader Tackle Box is the perfect size to suit all of your storage needs. Featuring a front load or top load system, you can access your gear quickly. The Multiloader comes with four line dispensing ports, six compartments and a sturdy handle, conveniently providing you with everything you need all in one place.

Father's Day GiftsCARHARTT FLAG PATCH CAP – $29.99

Help dad show his USA Pride in style with the Carhartt Flag Patch Cap. The adjustable cap features a Carhartt Force sweatband and moisture-wicking fast dry technology, helping keep dad cool in the summer heat.

BUCK KNIVES 363 RIVAL SS KNIFE – $22.50Father's Day Gifts

Gift dad with the smallest edition of the Rival family, the 363 Rival SS Buck Knife. Compact, but powerful, the drop point blade on this knife has a tumbled finish, making it even more corrosion resistant. Featuring Buck’s advanced Edge2x blade technology, this made in the USA knife is unbelievably sharp right out of the box. Give your dad the gift of having a lightweight, EDC Buck Knife he can throw on his keychain, lanyard or even in his pocket.

Father's Day GiftsOTTERBOX VENTURE 25 COOLER – $209.99

Head outside for the day with Otterbox’s Venture 25 Cooler. This product has a 25-quart capacity, anti-slip rubber feet, a bottle opener and tough latches. Most importantly, Dad will never have to worry about his favorite drinks going warm with its ability to keep drinks cold for 10 days, making it ideal for all his outdoor adventures. If you want to make this gift extra special for your outdoors dad, order it in tan/Realtree camo/orange!

MILWAUKEE TOOL M12 FUEL 2-TOOL COMBO KIT – $229.00Father's Day Gifts

Upgrade your dad’s tool kit with the best of the best Milwaukee Tool M12 Fuel 2-Tool Combo Kit. This Combo Kit is the most capable and compact 12-Volt Hammer Drill Driver and Impact Driver Combo Kit on the market. Included is the M12 FUEL Hammer Drill Driver, the lightest weight and most compact 12-Volt Hammer Drill Driver. Also included is the M12 FUEL Hex Impact, featuring the best in class driving speed, power, and size. What more could he want for Father’s Day?


Surefire’s Titan LED Keychain light is just what every dad’s keyring needs. Featuring a high-performance LED, stainless steel keyring, and rechargeable battery (charger sold separately). This product is conveniently lightweight and indestructible, allowing it to be carried anywhere.

COSTA SALTBREAK SUNGLASSES – $169.00+Father's Day Gifts

Every dad needs a cool pair of shades to hit the water with, and Costa has you covered with their Saltbreak Sunglasses, featuring seven different lens color options to help you choose the best color for your needs. Adorned with scratch-proof lenses, a lightweight design, and excellent glass clarity, this product is the perfect accessory for all your outdoor activities just in time for summer.


Union Volunteers Completely Transform Vilas Park Fishing Pier

May 31, 2018 in General, Wisconsin, Work Boots On The Ground

Vilas Park

Union volunteers from the South Central Wisconsin Building Trades Council (BTC) teamed up with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to renovate and reinstall the Vilas Park fishing pier in Madison, Wisconsin, providing better access to the lake for all.

Utilizing nearly $22,000 in funds raised by the USA’s Madison Area Conservation Dinner, union volunteers teamed up with the USA and the city of Madison to take the original floating fishing pier, which was sitting in a state of disrepair in one of the city’s materials yards, and restore it for the public’s use.

“This project was a great opportunity for multiple Union trades to come together and benefit our local community,” said project leader and South Central Wisconsin BTC President/Executive Director Dave Branson. “It’s rewarding to know that this revitalized pier will provide safe and easy access for all to participate in the sport of fishing at Vilas Park.”

Volunteers coordinated transportation of the pier to one of the local union shops where over the course of the cold, harsh Wisconsin winter repairs were made, including the installation of new decking. In preparation for installation of the renovated, now handicap accessible fishing pier, volunteers and union contractors also designed and constructed a pier abutment as well as a new sidewalk and steps on the edge of Lake Wingra in Madison’s Vilas Park, which have greatly increased accessibility to the fishing pier.

“This project is an excellent example of the impact that USA’s skilled union volunteers bring to the future of conservation and preserving our outdoor heritage,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “If it weren’t for their dedication to conservation and their community, there is a very good chance that this pier would have never made its way back to the water for the public’s use.”

More than 30 union volunteers from Ironworkers (IW) Local 383, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 13, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) Local 314, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFIAW) Local 18, International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 132, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 7, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 113 and 330 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 18 donated nearly 200 hours to rebuild and install the previously dilapidated pier.

After completing restoration of the pier, it was transported and installed at its new location at Vilas Park. Volunteers will soon install a new handrailing on the pier to complete this project.

USA and NSSF Team Up to Thank Hunting and Shooting Sports Mentors

May 16, 2018 in General, Press Release


The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) have joined forces to identify and reward union members who become mentors to newcomers in hunting, target shooting or firearms safety in 2018.

The USA will work through its grassroots support system, its international union partners and their locals to identify those who take the time to introduce someone to hunting or the shooting sports in 2018. As a way of saying thanks, the USA and NSSF will send those mentors a complimentary Buck 364 Rival I knife customized with both organization’s logos.

Recent research from NSSF shows there are 24 million Americans who have expressed an interest in learning how to get started hunting or target shooting.

“Recruiting new participants to the shooting sports is a crucial element for growth, and mentoring is a rewarding way to introduce newcomers to these fun and social activities,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of research and market development. “We are excited to be working with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance on this important initiative and thankful for their leadership in this effort.”

To claim the knife, all the mentors need to do is visit, answer yes to one of three questions, and provide contact information and date of birth. Mentors 18 years of age and older will qualify to receive the knife.

“We ask current hunters and target shooters to share what they know and love and become a mentor to someone new in 2018,” said Brian Dowler, USA’s director of membership, marketing and communications. “One of the best ways to activate these interested folks is by having someone they know mentor them and teach them how to get started.”

The USA is a nonprofit conservation group created for union members and their families. The organization’s mission is to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. In only 11 years, the USA has amassed more than 250,000 members from more than 25 different international labor unions.

What makes the USA truly unique is its ability to harness the power of skilled union volunteers who put their professional knowledge to use by tackling projects that create or improve public access to the outdoors, improve wildlife habitats, mentor youth in the outdoors and restore America’s parks, which are in disrepair. The USA also raises funds to cover materials and equipment.

The NSSF is the trade association for the firearms industry, and its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

“Partnerships play a vitally important role in our industry, and we are always open to combining forces for conservation with a great partner like the NSSF,” said Scott Vance, CEO and executive director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our hardworking union members are very active in their communities, and we believe they are active mentors as well. This partnership will allow us to get a handle on our members’ current mentoring activity and encourage them to pass on their love for the outdoors to the next generation to ensure a bright future for America’s outdoor heritage.”

Union Led Wolftever Creek Project Enhances TN Fishing And Boating Access

May 11, 2018 in General, Work Boots On The Ground

Spanning more than 36,000 acres, Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga is a popular destination for anglers and other watersports enthusiasts from within the state and around the country.

Fishing is a prime draw. The scenic reservoir is consistently ranked among the nation’s top bass fisheries and currently holds the Tennessee state records for both largemouth and spotted bass. Recreational boating, waterskiing, kayaking, swimming and camping also attract thousands of visitors each year. Unfortunately, funds to maintain and enhance public access to this crown jewel of the Tennessee River system are chronically tight.

To help remedy the situation, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a dedicated team of union volunteers stepped up to complete a major overhaul of one of Chickamauga’s busiest access points, the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside of Chattanooga.

The renovation expanded year-round public access by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

Before Photos:

Union volunteers donated approximately 300 hours of labor to demolish the old dock April 7, install the new pier April 21 and align the structure on April 28. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe floor boards and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch.

The final phase of the project, set for completion by the end of May, includes the installation of an additional handrail on the pier abutment and transition plates between dock sections. In the meantime, the pier is open for use.

The project was part of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, which brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and talents to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The WBG program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

The Wolftever Creek project was conducted without the use of state game and fish funds. Materials were purchased with $10,000 raised by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 and $22,000 in federal marine fuel tax revenues from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). All union labor was donated.

The project originated when UAW Local 42 expressed interest in taking on a community-based conservation project, and USA research revealed strong public support for improvements to the Wolftever Creek ramp.

Demolition & Renovation Photos:

“Unions are always looking for ways to get involved and improve their communities,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The Wolftever Creek boat ramp was one of the most heavily used access points to the lake, but it was really unsafe and unusable in the winter due to low water levels. Replacing the boat ramp is a project that UAW Local 42 really wanted to get involved in to benefit the public and demonstrate that we care about our community.”

Along with UAW Local 42, participating union members also represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 175, Ironworkers (IW) Local 704 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5.

“The Wolftever Creek project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This dock benefits thousands of fishermen and other recreational boaters who use the Wolftever Creek boat ramp. It not only improves the aesthetic value of this location but provides improved and safer access to all who utilize it.”

TWRA officials were grateful for USA and union volunteers’ assistance in making the Wolftever Creek ramp renovation a reality faster than limited state budgets and manpower could have allowed.

“The donations and hard work of the Union Sportsmen allowed us to accomplish this project more quickly,” said Capt. Matt Clarey, who oversees boat access areas and ramps for TWRA Region III. “We’re pleased to work alongside such great citizens. This partnership will benefit Tennesseans for years to come.”

UAW Local 42 Vice President David Gleeson noted the added benefits of having union members from different trades join forces in pursuit of common goals such as conservation and community service.

“Volunteer projects like the one at Wolftever Creek build comradery and enable members of various union trades to discuss issues,” he said. “We had ironworkers, sheet metal workers and auto workers. But at the worksite, we were all just workers. Nobody had a big head. We just helped one another out with what needed to be done.”

After Photos:

6 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy Moms

May 9, 2018 in Articles, General

Mother's Day Gifts

Still in search of the perfect Mother’s Day gifts for that mom who just can’t get enough of the outdoors? No worries, we have you covered! Whether she enjoys hunting, fishing, or just relaxing in nature, these products aim to please. And even if it shows up late, she’ll be so happy with her gift she won’t even be upset. Check out these six last minute Mother’s Day gifts for outdoorsy moms!

6 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for Outdoorsy Moms:

St. Croix Avid Pearl Fishing Rod – $230.00+

Mother's Day GiftsSt. Croix’s Avid Pearl spinning and casting rods feature high-modulus SCIII graphite blanks and a full complement of premium components that will elevate Mom’s fishing experience to all-new levels. Featuring a striking fuchsia-metallic finish and beautiful mother-of-pearl reel seat insert, these beauties are specialized, hard-core high-performance fishing tools with a feminine edge. Looking for a great all-arounder? Check out the two-piece spinning model # APS66MLF. This 6-6” rod is rated for 4-10-lb. line, and will handle everything from panfish and pompanos to bass and bonefish.

Mother's Day Gifts

Carhartt Realtree Xtra Phone Clutch – $44.99

Carhartt’s Realtree Xtra Phone Clutch is the perfect size to carry with you anywhere. Featuring five credit card pockets, phone pocket, leather wrist strap, and two additional pockets, there’s no need to carry around that heavy purse anymore. This product comes adorned in camouflage with a pink stripe to add that feminine touch.

Nano Bantam Knife – $19.50+Mother's Day Gifts

Man or woman, no one can argue the importance of owning your very own everyday carry knife. As Buck Knives says, “ONE TOOL FOR A LIFE LIVED OUTDOORS.” While there are many options to choose from at Buck Knives, we recommend the Nano Bantam Knife for that special mom in your life. The Nano Bantam is small and lightweight, allowing it to fit into virtually any carrying configuration she prefers: key rings, pockets, backpacks, lanyards, etc.

Mother's Day GiftsFlambeau Graphite 400 Tackle Bag – $40.50

Moms are great at keeping their family’s lives organized, so treat your mom to this Flambeau Graphite 400 Tackle bag to store all her gear on the water. Featuring 4 Tuff Tainers that fit in the top loading compartment, 4 exterior accessories zipper pockets, an adjustable shoulder strap, and a carry handle, this product will not only help her stay organized, but look stylish while doing it.

Mother's Day Gifts

ORCA 20-Quart Cooler – $189.99

Whether a day on the boat, a weekend of camping or a day at the park, ORCA 20 quart cooler is the perfect gift for that mom in your life. Featuring stainless steel handle, cargo net attachment, and cold retention up to 10 days. Orca Coolers come in a variety of colors to be sure she finds one that will stand out at her next outing.


Mother's Day Gifts

Thermarest Slacker Single Hammock – $69.95

Help her slack off in style with the Thermarest Slacker Single Hammock. This product features 100% soft polyester fabric making it the perfect lounge spot. It stuffs into its own attached pocket that doubles as a place to stash a book or tablet to help that special mom in your life get even more relaxed.


Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp Receives Complete Renovation

April 23, 2018 in General, Press Release

Wolftever Creek

Anglers and recreational boaters will enjoy improved access to Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga, thanks to a major overhaul of the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp, including the installation of a new pier on April 21, by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a dedicated team of union volunteers.

Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp is located adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside of Chattanooga and is one of the area’s most heavily used public water accesses. The renovation expands year-round public access to the 36,000-acre Tennessee River impoundment by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

Union volunteers donated approximately 300 hours of labor to demolish the old dock April 7 and install the new pier April 21. Volunteers will return to install an additional handrail on the pier abutment, align the floating section of the pier and install transition plates between dock sections. In the meantime, the pier is open for use. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe floor boards and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch.

Before Photos:

Part of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, the project was conducted without the use of state game and fish funds. Materials were purchased with $10,000 raised by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 and $22,000 in federal marine fuel tax revenues from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). All union labor was donated.

The project originated when UAW Local 42 expressed interest in taking on a community-based conservation project, and USA research revealed strong public support for improvements to the Wolftever Creek ramp.

“Unions are always looking for ways to get involved and improve their communities,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The Wolftever Creek boat ramp was one of the most heavily used access points to the lake, but it was really unsafe and unusable in the winter due to low water levels. Replacing the boat ramp is a project that UAW Local 42 really wanted to get involved in to benefit the public and demonstrate that we care about our community.”

Along with UAW Local 42, participating union members also represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 175, Ironworkers Local 704 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5.

Demolition & Renovation Photos:

“The Wolftever Creek project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This dock will benefit thousands of fishermen and other recreational boaters who use the Wolftever Creek boat ramp. It will not only improve the aesthetic value of this location but provide improved and safer access to all who utilize it.”

TWRA officials were grateful for USA and union volunteers’ assistance in making the Wolftever Creek boat ramp renovation a reality faster than limited state budgets and manpower allowed.

“The donations and hard work of the Union Sportsmen allowed us to accomplish this project more quickly,” said Capt. Matt Clarey, who oversees boat access areas and ramps for TWRA Region III. “We’re pleased to work alongside such great citizens. This partnership will benefit Tennesseans for years to come.”

After Photos:


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Celebrates Milestone Conservation Achievements

April 12, 2018 in General, Press Release


Franklin, Tenn. — In 2017, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) eclipsed every mission-delivery and fundraising record ever set in the history of the conservation organization.

Throughout the year, the USA’s staff of 18 dedicated professionals joined forces with union volunteers to complete 27 conservation infrastructure projects in 15 states through its Work Boots on the Ground conservation initiative. These projects provided a value of more than $240,000 in skilled labor and a total project value of nearly $500,000.

“This past year has been nothing short of amazing for the USA, and we owe it all to our dedicated members, skilled union workers and extremely hard working staff,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “We celebrated numerous organizational milestones, including our 10-year anniversary, but we also set records in the areas that are most important for a nonprofit— we put a ton of resources on the ground and saw our mission delivery work truly make a difference.”

The USA was created in 2007 with a mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. Over the past 11 years, the organization has rapidly put that mission and powerful workforce into action.

With volunteers that both raise funds to improve access to the outdoors, conserve natural resources and pass on our outdoor heritage and put their union trade skills to work on the ground, the dollars raised become substantially more impactful. This unique skill set and the ability to access millions of skilled union workers across the nation makes the USA’s potential impact unmatched in this arena.

“The USA is in a unique position in that our volunteers are skilled workers who can take a pile of materials and turn them into something meaningful for other hunters and anglers,” said USA’s Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “This year we had 646 volunteers who provided 7,445 hours of volunteer service— 5,400 of which were skilled work hours.”

One USA milestone came to fruition in November when the organization finished its 100th Work Boots on the Ground project. Volunteers from the Washington DC area spent six weekends tearing off 60-year-old boards, carrying 200 pound timbers and reconstructing a dilapidated fishing pier at the National Park Service’s Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia. The value of this project alone was worth more than $100,000 of skilled labor, materials and volunteer time that the National Park Service did not have available until they teamed up with the USA.

In addition to growth in its mission delivery, the USA took on several strategic partnerships in 2017 that will allow the organization to be even more impactful in 2018. The USA’s new partners include Realtree, Worldwide Trophy Adventures, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, OUTTECH and Milwaukee Tool. Even though the USA experienced a record breaking year of fundraising and mission delivery, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

“The USA is in a strategic growth period,” said Vance. “We will remain a lean organization in regard to staff size, but we are executing a plan to significantly grow our mission delivery efforts. Fueling our hardworking union members’ efforts through partnerships with like-minded conservation powerhouses allows us to focus on, and increase, the great work that’s being done every day by union men and women across the United States.”

Lyme Disease – A Chronic Battle I Never Saw Coming

March 15, 2018 in Articles, General

There it is—my alarm waking me before the sun has risen. I pry my eyes open, groggy and a bit confused, but then I remember where I am. I’m camped at 9,500 feet with my dad, uncles and cousins in the Rocky Mountains. Any pain I feel this morning is pushed aside as I rush to get my hunting clothes on and grab my gear.

As we drive the truck up the dark mountain, my anticipation builds along with extreme nausea and dizziness for no known reason. I try to block it out of my mind, as I have far more important things to focus on.

Finally, we reach our stop and begin our trek deeper into elk country. “Yikes! Even going downhill is hurting my muscles a lot,” I think. “Focus… focus!”

lyme_diseaseDad leads the way as I push myself to keep up, following closely behind. He is the expert, and I am the novice, imitating his every move. This was what I had been dreaming of since I was a little girl. It was finally my year to be in elk camp with a tag of my very own, and to top it off, I was blessed with the best guide I could ever want.

We walked and walked, tip toeing through patches of woods to peek into the meadows, hoping to catch some elk feeding. Something still doesn’t feel right. My neck feels like someone put their toughest boots on and stomped on it, my lower back is tight and aching, my feet are throbbing, my head is pounding, I’m nauseous, my heart feels like it might explode, and I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks.

“Focus Courtney!” I scream in my head, afraid to admit how bad I feel.

The first day of the elk hunt is over, and we return to camp with an un-punched tag. My dad is still in good spirits, but I can’t help but realize my body is deteriorating more with each day of the hunt, each mile hiked, and my chance of punching my elk tag this year is deteriorating with it.

I go back to my tent and pray to God that He will give me the strength and endurance to continue on this week long hunt and that I might be blessed with my first elk.

The Answers to All My Questions…

I returned to Minnesota with no elk meat for my family that year. Miraculously, I survived two weeks in the Colorado backcountry with a group of men who had never had a woman in their elk camp before. That, in itself, was a huge blessing. I also managed to keep up with my dad, who is as healthy as a horse, covering more than seven miles together on the last day of the season. No one would have realized the condition I was in unless I told them. I’ll share it with you in hopes that you never have to go through what I am fighting to this day.


With a fever of 103°F and severe pain and stiffness throughout her body, Miller was poked and prodded at the ER, but doctors couldn’t identify the problem.

About two and a half weeks prior to my first elk hunt with a tag, in September 2016, I was admitted to the emergency room due to a severe fever and excruciating pain in my neck, back, legs, jaw, head, etc. You name it, and it was killing me. They did a spinal tap and hooked me up to IV fluids but could not figure out why I had a fever or why I was in so much pain. They sent me home with more questions than answers.

I had experienced some ongoing symptoms prior to the ER visit. I was constantly sick with colds and coughs. I grew extremely tired and weak, having to take naps in my car on my lunch break, and fighting falling asleep at my desk. I started getting a throbbing pain in my head, and felt like I was stuck in a strange brain fog in the mornings. One of the scariest symptoms I experienced was fainting twice while alone in my apartment. The one time, I even collapsed into wooden doors and lost my vision for a bit, but not consciousness.

My body deteriorated to the point that my mom had to stay with me in my apartment and help me in and out of the bathtub and my bed (the only two places I really went). If I so much as sneezed, coughed, or yawned I would start crying from the pain in my head and jaw.

I had seen my primary doctor fairly early on, but she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. We did tons of blood work and tests but got no answers.

Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme disease recall a rash.

Then it happened. I started to get discoloration on the top portion of my left thigh. Over a few days, it grew to several inches in length and felt hot to the touch. I also began getting bright red patches across my back and stomach.

Once my doctor saw the bullseye and disseminated red lesions, she said there was a good chance I had Lyme disease, especially given my outdoor lifestyle. Then I recalled finding a decent number of ticks on me while turkey and deer hunting that year.

I did all the blood tests for Lyme disease, and they came back negative. Yet after researching symptoms online, I was certain that’s what I had. My doctor put me on two weeks of doxycycline. That’s routine practice for doctors in typical health care system, but it’s not effective for everyone, even if you catch it early. Eventually, I was tested a second time for Lyme disease, and this time it came back positive.

A couple weeks after my ER visit, I convinced my family to let me go on my elk hunt. I was just over a week or so into my doxycycline treatment and slowly starting to feel more normal. I was determined I would be ready to roll by opening day of elk.

lyme disease

Miller and her dad chasing elk in the Rockies.

While I had many ups and downs physically throughout this hunt, I wasn’t consumed by pain the entire time. There were plenty of moments I pushed it out of my mind and enjoyed my time hunting with my dad and the other men in our camp. I learned that I am truly capable of overcoming many obstacles if I put my mind to it. My dad and I had many great moments on this trip that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

However, shortly after finishing my first round of doxycycline, all my symptoms returned, and with a vengeance. They put me on a second round of doxycycline, but this time, my symptoms started getting worse while I was still taking the medicine.

My primary physician later sent me to an infectious disease specialist, which was a complete waste of my time and money. The specialist confirmed I had Lyme disease but said the couple rounds of doxycycline were all they could do for me. She even said, “Maybe over time, it will just heal on its own.”

Unfortunately, Lyme disease can escalate into chronic Lyme disease if not treated early enough or properly, which is exactly what happened to me. Lyme disease is an epidemic issue in the United States and many other countries. It is difficult to test for and widely misunderstood by both medical professionals and insurance companies. This is why I’ve had such a difficult time finding the appropriate treatment that I can afford.


This isn’t even the HALF of it.

While the standard treatment for Lyme disease is 14-30 days of antibiotics, many times it is ineffective. Lyme spirochetes have the ability to “hide” from antibiotics, and standard treatments often only mask the disease rather than cure it.

This chronic disease has impacted my life in many ways. I used to be able to workout on a daily basis to get in shape for various hunting seasons. I boxed, lifted weights, did cardio, and more. Now, I resemble a couch potato much more than the girl I once was. Even hunting and fishing have become more of a challenge due to my lack of energy, sore muscles and other symptoms. Because of the way Lyme disease is classified, I’ve also spent thousands of dollars out of my own pocket to treat myself, with no guarantee of ever being symptom free again.

I experienced all the symptoms of early Lyme disease and the majority of the symptoms for chronic Lyme disease listed HERE, as well as light/sound sensitivity, tingling/numbness and shooting pains, night sweats, irritable bladder, exaggerated symptoms from alcohol and stomach/abdominal cramps.

An LDo published survey of over 3,000 patients with chronic Lyme disease found that patients suffer a worse quality of life than those with most other chronic illnesses, including congestive heart failure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Doctors don’t agree about the cause of these ongoing symptoms, and the primary cause of this debate is flawed diagnostic testing. There is currently no test that can determine whether a patient has an active infection or whether the infection has been eradicated by treatment.

I’m 23 years old, and right now, my quality of life isn’t looking all that bright. If I’ve learned one thing from this journey, it’s that if I’m ever blessed to be healthy again, I will never take it for granted. I’ll also forever hold onto the memories from that first elk hunt with my dad, and pray to God that Lyme disease won’t make it my last.

To learn more about Lyme disease symptoms click HERE.

Lyme Disease Symptoms – What to Watch For

March 15, 2018 in Articles, General


If you’ve been bit by a tick, you may start to experience Lyme disease symptoms typically anywhere from 2-30 days after the initial bite. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis, meaning that your treating physician will take into account your past medical history and your current symptoms. Additional laboratory tests can be run to determine a Lyme diagnosis, though many tests currently being administered by general practitioners are not very reliable. Many experts believe that less than 25% of patients with early Lyme disease and less than 10% with chronic Lyme are being properly diagnosed.

Also keep in mind that you may or may not even be aware that you were bitten. Ticks inject an anesthetic to numb the bite area so you rarely feel the bite and in some cases they can bite, feed on your blood and drop off without you ever knowing they were there!

If you have ANY of these Lyme disease symptoms or live in an area with a high prevalence of Lyme disease (make sure you read to the end!) then go get tested and request a Polymerase Chain Reaction test, which is currently the most accurate determination of Borrelia infection.

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Always listen to what your body is telling you. Pay close attention to your symptoms, and if you think you have Lyme Disease, don’t ignore it.

Early Lyme Disease Symptoms: 

• Bullseye rash (rash occurs in
less than 50% of patients)
• Flu-like symptoms
• Lack of energy and fatigue
• Headaches, especially at the
base of the skull and neck
• Muscle and joint pain
• Stiff neck
• Swollen lymph nodes

Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms:

• Extreme fatigue
• Unexplained rashes and allergies
• Migrating pain in arms and legs
• Weakness and/or numbness in the arms
and legs
• Twitching and severe muscle and
joint pain
• Severe or recurring cervicogenic
• Vertigo, dizziness and poor balance
• Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
• Fainting
• Poor memory and concentration
• Insomnia
• Extreme irritability and frequent
• Vision problems, including blurred
vision, double vision and floaters
• Heart conditions, including pericarditis
and extreme palpitations
• Panic attacks and mood disorder
including severe depression
• Problems speaking, word retrieval
problems, word block
• Progressive dementias
• Motor neuron disease, similar to ALS
• Gullain-Barre-like syndrome
• Multiple sclerosis-like syndrome

Chronic Lyme disease can manifest itself as nearly anything as you’ll see from the extensive list of Lyme disease symptoms. The bottom line is, if you have any unexplained neurological, muscular, vision or mental issues and you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick, GET TESTED for Lyme disease, and demand the right test!

HOW DO I GET TESTED?Lyme Disease Symptoms

First, go to your general physician armed with knowledge. The vast majority of general practitioners know very little about Lyme disease or it’s detection and unfortunately what they do know is largely inaccurate. There are direct and indirect tests that can be used to test for Lyme. Direct tests such as the Lyme Dot Blot Assay (LDA) or the Lyme Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction – PCR) look for the presence of Borrelia antigens or nucleic acids. Indirect tests (such as Elisa, IFA and the Western Blot) look for the patient’s immune response to Borrelia. It is important to note that not all ticks are infected with the disease, however, the ticks themselves can be tested for Borrelia and other tick borne diseases using the PCR test.

The indirect testing methods are the most commonly used by physicians in the United States and they are highly variable in their accuracy. This is because they look for your immune response to the Borrelia organism and not the actually “bug” itself. Demand the direct testing methods which are much more effective at detecting the Borrelia pathogen and giving you a clinical and accurate diagnosis.


Lyme disease is a very serious threat to those of us who love the outdoors and spend lots of time enjoying it. I can tell you from personal experience that arming yourself with a great deal of knowledge and being extremely vigilant and careful not to be bit by a tick is vitally important.  I have spent the last 20 years of my life experiencing the long list of Lyme symptoms.  I was misdiagnosed dozens of times and had two “falsely” negative tests that delayed my diagnosis for nearly 15 years.

If you are in the woods or even your own backyard protect yourself. Use tick repellent sprays and wear tick-proof clothing. If you find or even suspect that you or a family member have been bit by a tick, be very diligent for the symptoms of Lyme or other tick borne disease. If you have any suspicions at all, go to a health care provider and get tested using the right test.

If I had known these things 20 years ago I could have avoided literally tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs and my quality of life would have been tremendously better. Lyme disease is scary and it takes a toll on your life and your family. Please take the precautions to avoid getting it at all costs and seek the correct treatment if you suspect that you have this egregious affliction.

Learn how to prevent tick bites and remove ticks HERE.


Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO

USA Celebrates Nichols Park Transformation + Hosts Family Fishing Event

March 15, 2018 in General, Oklahoma, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park

Henryetta, Ok. — (March 10, 2018) The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Oklahoma State BCTC, and a crowd of more than 250 gathered at Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, today to celebrate the park’s transformation through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program.

Prior to the dedication, volunteers completed one final project at Nichols Park, installing the new pavilion roof. The USA and local conservation partners then hosted a family fishing day full of educational activities and served a free lunch.

Nearly $13,000 was raised for the Nichols Park restoration project at the USA’s Oklahoma AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner held in Tulsa in October 2016. Using funds for materials and equipment, more than 100 volunteers from 23 Union locals and community groups donated approximately 1,325 hours to make major improvements to the park.

Projects included replacing the pavilion roof, improving lighting, replacing and fixing park benches and picnic tables, clearing overgrown areas, and replacing an unsafe fishing pier with an ADA compliant floating pier.

“What was done in a few hours by the Unions would have taken months for the city crews to complete or even begin to accomplish,” said Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason. “The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.”

“The public should know that Unions unite for common goals and advocate for workers in both the public and private sector,” concluded Mayor Clason. “We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city. It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a fairy tale dream getaway.”

In an outstanding display of solidarity and community, more than 100 volunteers from the following Unions and groups donated their time and skills to this project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“Public parks are a resource that all Americans should cherish and be good stewards of,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Parks provide a variety of benefits including creating safer neighborhoods, engaging local communities and promoting public health in the outdoors. This project is a prime example of what our community-based conservation projects should look like.”


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): WBG is the USA’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

Lyme Disease Facts & Myths You NEED to Know

March 10, 2018 in Articles, General


Until a few years ago, people probably thought Lyme disease was something that happened when you had too many “bottomless cup” margaritas at the local watering hole. But Lyme disease is no laughing matter. Educating yourself on Lyme disease facts and myths can be the difference between you continuing to enjoy a life full of the outdoors, and battling a chronic illness.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Lyme disease is the fastest growing and most prevalent bug-borne disease in the nation with more than 300,000 people diagnosed each year. Many experts estimate less than 25% of new cases are being accurately diagnosed, and only a fraction of chronic Lyme cases are positively identified.

Lyme is one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and, unfortunately, mistreated diseases in the U.S. It is caused by a bizarre organism called Borrelia burgdorferiBorrelia is a corkscrew-shaped bacterium referred to as a spirochete. Because of its unique shape and properties, this bacterium can bore itself into muscles, bones and even nervous system tissues and wreak havoc on its host (you and me).

Lyme is often called “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles, joints and heart. Patients with Lyme disease are frequently misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, crippling arthritis and various psychiatric and mental illnesses, including severe depression.

I spent the last 20 years of my life experiencing the long list of Lyme symptoms. I was misdiagnosed dozens of times and had two “falsely” negative tests that delayed my diagnosis for nearly 15 years. Educating yourself on Lyme disease facts can prevent you from ending up in a situation like mine.

Most people get Lyme from the bite of the nymphal, or immature, form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. Because they are so tiny and their bite is painless, many people don’t even realize they have been bitten. Once attached, an undisturbed tick may feed for several days. The longer it stays attached, the more likely it will transmit Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream.

9 Lyme Disease Facts:

  1. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the U.S.
  2. The number of cases reported annually has increased nearly 25-fold since National Surveillance began in 1982.
  3. There are five subspecies of Borrelia burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the U.S., and 300 strains worldwide.
  4. CDC estimated cases: 25,000 cases per week, 5,770 cases per day, 822 cases per hour (many experts believe less than 10% of Lyme cases are reported)
  5. There are no tests available to prove that the organism is eradicated or the patient is cured.
  6. Fewer than 50% or patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite.
  7. Forty percent of Lyme patients end up with long-term health problems.
  8. Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme disease recall a rash.
  9. Up to 70% of ticks in Lyme-endemic areas are infected.

Find more Lyme Disease facts HERE.

3 Lyme Disease Myths:

MYTH: Everyone with Lyme disease gets a telltale bull’s-eye rash.

Actually, many never develop a skin rash and those that do may not get a bull’s-eye rash.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that only 70% develop a skin rash (erythema migrans), but this can vary by region. For example, a 2010 study showed that in the state of Maine only 43% of Lyme patients exhibited this particular type of rash. There are a range of symptoms and it is critical that you are alert to all of them.

MYTH: Antibiotics cure everyone.

While an estimated 329,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, statistics show that as many as 20% of patients continue to exhibit symptoms even after antibiotic treatment. While there is controversy about the cause of this symptom persistence (e.g., residual bacteria or auto-immune response), for these patients, the suffering continues.  As many as a million Americans are estimated to be suffering with this condition, referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD).

MYTH: If the test is negative, you don’t have Lyme. 

Not so fast … The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease is a two-tiered blood test requiring a positive ELISA result. The ELISA measures infection-fighting or memory antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi, and it misses up to 60% of acute cases of Lyme when antibodies may not be high enough to detect.

Myths courtesy of Bay Area Lyme Foundation

Think you may have Lyme disease? Check your symptoms HERE.


Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO

5 Ways to Prevent Nasty Tick Bites + How to Remove Them

March 1, 2018 in Articles, General


The news hit me like a sucker punch in the gut. As I worked to overcome the shock, the words of the person on the phone began to sink in. One of the toughest, most enigmatic men I’d ever known was dead. My eyes filled with stinging anger as the murderer’s name was articulated. Tick Fever. That was nearly four years ago. A man whose life had led him down many paths filled with tales of dogged stamina, perseverance and extreme risk was killed by a tiny arachnid not much larger than a poppy seed. Tick borne diseases are a very serious threat to people who enjoy the outdoors and, quite honestly, anyone who spends time outside. Avoiding tick bites is relatively simple and are worth the extra time and effort

Ticks can even hitch a ride into your home on your pets. According to the most current information, tick bites in the United States can transmit more than 20 different bacterial and viral diseases to the people bitten. While these diseases are rarely fatal, they pose a significant health implication to those of us who love to hunt, fish and be outside. You’ve heard the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that could not be more true when it applies to avoiding tick bites. Taking a few simple precautions before you go into the field can significantly lower your vulnerability to lurking ticks.tick_bites

SPRAY DOWN – One of the most effective ways to avoid tick bites is to “pre” treat your clothes and boots with a permethrin based spray like Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent. Avoid direct contact with your skin by allowing the product to dry on your clothes several days before your outdoor trip. The spray will last for months on your boots and for several weeks on your outer garments. I spray every piece of my outerwear, including my boots, gloves and hat, prior to spring turkey season, and I have not been bitten by a tick or a chigger in more than 10 years. You can even spray it on your dogs. NOTE: This product is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as cats, when wet. Read application instructions carefully before use.

COVER UP – Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants that are light colored and lightweight to cover exposed skin. Tuck your pants into your boots, and thoroughly spray the tops of your boots with a permethrin spray to avoid tick bites.

STEER CLEAR – Avoid areas with high grass and stay in the sun when possible. Ticks love high thick grass and tend to congregate in shady areas.

SUIT UP – Several companies now make “tick proof” clothing and, by all accounts, it is extremely effective. Some of this clothing has permethrin bonded into its fibers, which repels ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers and also maintains its insect barrier through dozens of wash cycles. Other clothing types create a tight, tick-proof barrier next to your skin that does not allow ticks to crawl under it.

BE DILIGENT – If you don’t like the idea of special clothes or insect repelling sprays, then be extremely diligent. Wear light colored clothing (this allows you to see tiny ticks crawling on your clothes) and cover all bare skin. Tuck your pants into your boots and socks, and tape the sleeves of your long-sleeve shirts tight around your wrists. Shower and search for ticks immediately after returning indoors, and throw all your clothes in a high heat dryer to kill ticks that may have hitched a ride. These precautions are relatively simple and are worth the extra time and effort. Take it from someone who is still fighting Chronic Lyme disease and alpha gal red meat allergies, do whatever you can to protect yourself and your family from tick bites. Don’t let these nasty little suckers ruin your outdoor experiences or, worse, take your life.

Think you may have Lyme disease? Check your symptoms HERE.


Written by Scott Vance, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – CEO

Brotherhood Outdoors Field Producer Wins Outdoor Sportsman Award

January 10, 2018 in General

Today Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) would like to thank and congratulate Brotherhood Outdoors’ lead field producer Lee VanDenBrink, who was just honored the 2018 Outdoor Sportsman Awards Production Crew MVP.

Nearly a year ago, USA enlisted outdoor television powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media to take over production of Brotherhood Outdoors. Rusted Rooster, founded and operated by brothers Chris and Casey Keefer, is the production house behind TV shows Sheep Shape and Dropped. The group produced nine original episodes of Brotherhood Outdoors for the third and fourth quarters of 2017, and will produce nine episodes in 2018. Rusted Rooster also works with industry giants such as Buck Knives, PSE and Winchester.

Brotherhood Outdoors takes real, hardworking, American union members – selected through an application process – on a hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime, while highlighting their home and work lives. The show gives viewers a look at everyday people on realistic excursions. The show also offers a glimpse of the USA’s conservation efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

“Lee has been the Brotherhood Road warrior and the man behind the lens on most of our shoots last year,” said Brad Walch, Strategic Account Manager for Rusted Rooster. “He captures the story and makes sure the guests are having a good time! Since we had such a late start last season he was able to accomplish a lot in a very short window. Still keeps in touch with all of our guests and has done a great job for Brotherhood Outdoors.”

Lee captures the inspiring stories shared by hardworking Union Sportsmen’s Alliance members across the nation. Thanks to Lee’s undeniable work ethic and passion for storytelling, Brotherhood Outdoors shines a well-deserved spotlight on the men and women who are the backbone of this great country.

5 Hot Winter Fishing Destinations

December 14, 2017 in Articles, Fishing, General

Written by: Travis Baker

This past February found me boarding a flight to Houston, escaping the cold northerly winds of western Nebraska en route to the “Sailfishing Capital of the World.” I was tired of hearing stories of 50 fish days, double and triple hook ups, “hot” sailfish lit up as they literally chase teasers to the back of the boat. It was time to experience it for myself.

As my two hour flight from Houston touched down in Guatemala City, to say I was anxious would be an understatement. As my driver met me at baggage claim, we escaped the congestion of the city and headed south for a 90-minute drive to the small beachfront community of Iztapa. Billfisherman have been fishing these waters for years, but only in the past 10 years or so, has Guatemala earned the enviable reputation as the premier sailfish destination.

After a freshly brewed cup of Guatemalan coffee and a five minute drive to the marina, I was greeted by Captain Chico and two mates. No time wasted. I stepped into the boat, and we were off. One of the highlights (besides the amazing fishing) of the trip is that fish are often found less than 20 miles from port, which means more time fishing, and the waters can be as calm as a lake.

The mates were always busy rigging baits and checking teasers, but I didn’t have to wait long to hear “pez vela, pez vela!” Our first sailfish was hot on the left teaser, and as the mate slowly pulled it away from the fish, a perfectly casted ballyhoo soon replaced the teaser and my first sailfish was on. A short while later, fish number one was safely released. I lost count of how many times we repeated that process, but it was well over 20 before noon. After an unbelievable lunch of freshly caught tuna ceviche and an ice cold Gallo, I got to thinking about all those stories I had heard about the obscene number of sailfish in Guatemalan waters. I realized they were not stories at all. The fishing here continues to amaze me, and I often find myself anxiously waiting for winter to roll around.

Fall is upon us and winter isn’t far behind. Before cabin fever sets in, start planning a warm weather fishing getaway like the one I experienced. Here are five hot destinations you should add to your fishing bucket list.

Belize – This English speaking country in Central America, tucked between Mexico and Guatemala, has always been a hot spot for some of the most diverse flats fishing in the Caribbean. Belize is known as the best place to land a “saltwater grand slam,” a bonefish, tarpon and permit in the same day. The gin clear waters offer perfect sight fishing opportunities for these elusive game fish. Offering convenient access from major cities such as Houston, Dallas, Miami, and Atlanta, Belize is a year round fishery and also a great destination for non-anglers. It has the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, making it one of the top dive and snorkeling destinations in the world. Accommodations consist of intimate waterfront resorts to the most comfortable fishing lodges. It’s a great destination for anglers and non-anglers alike.  Reduced rates are available during the summer and fall months.

Costa Rica – When it comes to combining fishing, adventure, and an assortment of non-fishing activities, Costa Rica is tough to beat. Costa Rica’s pacific coast is an excellent destination to combine a billfishing trip with a multitude of non-fishing and family activities, such as enjoying the beach, surfing, diving, snorkeling, white water rafting, and eco tours. Don’t forget Costa Rica’s Atlantic coast. The remote Caribbean side of the country is still pretty much undeveloped and home to a myriad of freshwater jungle rivers that spill into the Atlantic. This is home to some of the best tarpon fishing in the world.  Nothing is quite as thrilling as battling a 100 plus pound silver king!

Guatemala – Known as the “sailfishing capital of the world” Guatemala has produced more records for sailfish landed than any other place on the planet! Another location that is easily accessed from most major cities, Guatemala’s peak billfishing season runs from December – March with very good fishing year round.  Reports of landing upwards of 50-60 sails per boat in a day is not uncommon during peak season. Blue and striped marlin are also available. The ocean is relatively calm here, which makes for very enjoyable fishing conditions. The accommodations and lodges offered are very comfortable and located in a safe and friendly environment. Guatemala should be on every saltwater fisherman’s radar.

Argentina – Reminiscent of Wyoming, the Patagonia region of Argentina is a trout fisherman’s paradise.With a peak season of December – April, Argentina is a great excuse to escape the North American winter and cast a fly to rising trout in the South American summer. The fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout here is some of the best anywhere with an assortment of world-class rivers with the Andes Mountains as your back drop. Whether wade fishing a spring creek or floating a picturesque freestone river, Argentina offers everything for the freshwater fishing enthusiast. The accommodations here will rival that of any five-star fishing lodge with delicious meals and fine South American wines. It’s also a great destination to bring the non-fishing companion. A stop in Buenos Aires for some shopping and a tango show is a must.

Mexico – If you’re a bass fisherman, you owe it to yourself to experience the trophy lakes of Mexico. No other area consistently produces more largemouth bass and the biggest largemouth bass than old Mexico.  While it’s a year round fishery, the winter months can produce some heart pounding top water action.  There’s nothing like the strike of an 8-pound plus largemouth on top water! Initially stocked with Florida-strain bass several decades ago, the fishing here seems to get better each year with many fish in the double digit class recorded each season. Accommodations are fantastic with four-star lakefront lodging and delicious meals served daily. Anglers are met at the dock with an ice cold margarita after a day on the water. Plus, Mexico is a terrific value and makes for an easy 3-4 day fishing getaway. This is the ultimate “bucket list” destination for largemouth bass.

The hardest part about planning one of these fantastic winter fishing getaways should be choosing between them. The rest of the planning can be a breeze with the help of the experts at Worldwide Trophy Adventures (WTA), the preferred booking agent of Cabela’s. WTA’s professional staff can handle all aspects of your trip from initial consultation, detailed pre-trip planning, airline travel, trip cancellation insurance, and much more.  Plus, their services are free of charge! It costs you no more to book a trip through them than it does booking direct with the lodge or outfitter. In fact, they will save you time and money.

Learn more at or call 800-346-8747 and leave that cabin fever behind.

Hurricane Irma Relief Effort at Florida House on Capitol Hill

September 12, 2017 in General, Press Release

CONTACT: Jordan Pic/ Manager of Operations, Florida House on Capitol Hill
202-546-1555 or

Connie Parker/Director of Stewardship and Government Relations, Pure Fishing
703-624-1811 or

Florida House on Capitol Hill, Pure Fishing and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance are organizing an effort to collect and transport supplies for the Hurricane Irma relief effort.

Florida House will collect items from Tuesday, September 12th until Friday, September 15th. Supplies can also be shipped to Florida House via Amazon Prime. The items will depart Washington, D.C. for Orlando, FL on Saturday, September 16th.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management and Volunteer Florida have identified the following items as most essential:

• Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash
• Buckets and mops
• Garbage bags
• Toilet paper
• Baby Diapers
• Pediasure and Ensure
• Feminine care products

Drop off for donations will be from 9am to 6pm Tuesday, September 12th to Friday, September 15th. Volunteers interested in helping box and load supplies can reach out at the contact information above. Please feel free to share with those who are interested in helping Florida.

# # #

Florida House on Capitol Hill is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), nonpartisan organization that provides cultural, social, educational and economic resources; showcases Florida’s culture and diversity; maintains and operates Florida House; and provides opportunities for Floridians to enrich their appreciation and knowledge of our nation’s government.

Union Volunteers Rebuild Boat Ramp Destroyed by Floods

September 6, 2017 in Conservation News, General

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335 union volunteers completed construction of a non-motorized boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Mo., for the second time this year, on August 13.

The ramp was less than a week old when catastrophic flooding destroyed the newly poured concrete in May. Undeterred, the three project partners devised a design they believe will stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.union volunteers

“Flood waters destroyed nearly $12,000 of volunteer labor and materials invested at the Minnie Ha Ha Park and resulted in the cancellation of our dedication ceremony and paddling event, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of our dedicated union volunteers and partners at American Water,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water pledged an additional $15,000 in grant money to repair the ramp, and volunteers once again gave their time and skills to reconstruct it for the benefit of the entire community.”

During the original project, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers spent approximately 250 hours tearing out the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition, and then grading, framing, laying rebar and pouring new concrete. The project was finished in late April and mere days later, historic flooding damaged 90 percent of the structure beyond repair.

Union volunteers returned to Minne Ha Ha Park in early August and spent another 260 hours completing the project once again. To help the ramp weather future flooding, volunteers poured more, deeper footing all the way up the ramp and placed larger rocks on its upriver side.

“A lot of people kayak and canoe the Meramec River, and the old boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park was in pretty bad shape for the past 10-15 years,” said UWUA Local 335 President Allan Bathon. “Union members make a decent living, so we are able to give back by donating our trade skills and money to projects like this that benefit our community.”

“I am proud of the way Missouri American Water, Local 335 and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance came together to build this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “It says a lot about the determination of those involved that they wouldn’t let Mother Nature and severe flooding defeat their efforts to get this boat ramp built.”

The new ramp was one of six projects funded through a $150,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) to support USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation projects that improve access to water-based recreation activities. A ramp dedication and paddling event, originally scheduled for May 2017, is being planned for the spring of 2018.

See Project Photos HERE.

Take the Pledge to Involve Someone in Hunting or Fishing and Enter to Win!

August 4, 2017 in Articles, General

Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for NHF Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day), an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a new twist this year. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for NHF Day, is asking hunters and anglers to participate in the new NHF Day Challenge by taking someone hunting, fishing or target shooting. By pledging to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and NHF Day on Saturday, Sept. 23, participants will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or the Ultimate Outdoor Experience in America’s Conservation Capital from Big Cedar Lodge and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

“If you are a sportsman, sportswoman or an angler, you can make a difference and support National Hunting and Fishing Day by becoming a mentor,” said Childress. “Mentoring is critical to ensure our outdoor tradition lives on through future generations. Make the commitment to take someone outdoors and show them why you value hunting, fishing and target shooting.”

For millions of Americans, time spent hunting and fishing are treasured moments. Hunting and fishing brings friends and family together and provides one of the most immersive outdoor experiences possible.

“Today fewer people are connecting with nature through hunting and fishing,” said Childress. “As outdoorsmen and women, we are one of the keys to reversing this trend. Help a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker learn how to hunt, fish or shoot. Introducing someone to the joys of the outdoors not only enriches their life, it creates a future conservationist.”

Each new hunter and angler created helps fund conservation. Every time someone buys a firearm, ammunition, archery equipment or fishing tackle, they contribute to habitat conservation and science-based wildlife management through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program. The WSFR is the cornerstone of fish and wildlife conservation in North America because it brings funding from the sporting arms, archery and fishing industries and sportsmen and women back to state wildlife management agencies. These monies, in addition to hunting and fishing license fees, are critical for conserving fish and wildlife across our nation.

Those who pledge to take someone hunting, target shooting or fishing will be entered for a chance to win two amazing prize packages. The first grand prize is two HOT passes to a future NASCAR race, which includes pit and garage passes, garage and team hauler tours, and an opportunity to meet team owner Richard Childress. The second grand prize package is a trip to America’s Conservation Capital: Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. A passion of Bass Pro Shops founder and Ozarks native Johnny Morris, the destination spans multiple properties and thousands of unspoiled acres, making it the ultimate destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. The package includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge, America’s premier wilderness resort, and nature-based excursions including guided bass fishing on 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake; Adventure Passes for the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum at Top of the Rock; shotgun sports at Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor Shooting Academy; and passes to Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, the largest, most immersive wildlife attraction in the world, opening Sept, 21, 2017.


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Hosts Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park

June 20, 2017 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

More than 200 youth and adults turned out for a weekend packed with outdoor activities at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) first Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tenn., on June 10 and 11.

According to the Outdoor Foundation’s study on youth participation in the outdoors, the U.S. is facing an unprecedented public health and conservation problem as the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors amidst changing technological and social landscapes. Reconnecting youth with the outdoors is critical to the health of future generations as well as the health of our natural landscapes.

The USA’s Family Campout engaged both youth and adults in hands-on activities including a youth fishing derby, wildlife calling contest, snake and birds of prey exhibition and conservation education. Many youth got the chance to shoot a bow for the first time thanks to a mobile archery unit provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Participants also enjoyed delicious meals, and youth received fishing gear and t-shirts.

The free, public event was made possible with support from the Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, Pure Fishing, Montgomery Bell State Park and the TWRA. Nashville BCTC President Anthony Nicholson and Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus were instrumental in the success of the event from promotion to volunteer recruitment to coordination.

“As we grow our community outreach programs, we want to create fun, safe learning environments that enable families to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors,” said Scott Vance, CEO & Executive Director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our first Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park accomplished just that. We’re thrilled to have brought together more than 200 youth and adults for activities that will leave a lasting impression and inspire a love of the great outdoors.”

Less than an hour drive west of Nashville, Montgomery Bell State Park has been the site of several USA Work Boots on the Ground projects, which bring together union volunteers to tackle conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, wildlife habitats and outdoor experiences for communities across America. In 2013, USA volunteers rebuilt a bridge at the park that was washed away in the 2010 flood, and in 2015, they restored a cabin utilized by local Boy Scouts that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937.

Click HERE for more photos.

Competition & Camaraderie Through the Years

April 6, 2017 in General, Press Release

The 6th Annual Roofers & Waterproofers Shoot set an attendance record with 228 shooters.

By: Kate Nation

USA Events connect union leadership, like retired IAMAW International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger (front) with members.

When we held our first sporting clays shoot in Maryland in 2009, 152 shooters were chased to the pavilion by a torrential downpour. Instead of dampening spirits, it set the bar for the USA’s highly successful events program. Whether the sun is out, it’s pouring rain, the wind is blowing or there’s snow on the ground, union members show up at our shooting events for fellowship and fun. Bringing together everyone from veteran to novice shooters, union presidents to apprentices, retirees to children, service members and the occasional Super Bowl champion, shoots are one of our most effective tools for uniting the union community and fundraising.

In 2013, the USA shooting tour raised more than $1 million, and it has continued to grow. New records set last year include most funds raised (single event) at the Boilermakers’ shoot in Kansas City with $159,000 and highest attendance (single event) at the Roofers’ shoot in Minnesota with 228 shooters.

The Des Moines Area Conservation Dinner raised the bar in 2016 with 663 guests and raised $148,000.

The introduction of conservation dinners in 2012 bolstered the USA’s events program not only as a critical funding source, but also as a foundation for USA’s local conservation projects. Organized by union volunteers with support from USA staff, the dinners are a true testament to the dedication of USA members and volunteers. The conservation dinner season broke the $1 million milestone in 2015, and the program has grown from three dinners in 2012 to 22 dinners in 2016. Last year, the Des Moines dinner hosted 663 guests and raised a record $148,000.

As staples in the USA community, shoots and dinners raise critical funds to support our mission and operations while educating union members about the organization and recruiting volunteers for conservation projects. The growth of USA events in the past eight years has been nothing short of amazing thanks to our members, volunteers, sponsors and friends.

Union Members Volunteer to Tackle Conservation Infrastructure Crisis

April 3, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Kate Nation

Watching Old Faithful blast boiling water more than 150 feet into the air at Yellowstone National Park or listening to the thunderous roar of 3,160 tons of water per second pouring over Niagara Falls State Park are experiences you will never forget. If you haven’t visited America’s first national park or oldest state park, there is still a good chance you’ve spent time exploring one or more of America’s 59 national parks or 6,624 state parks. The U.S. national system of parks is the envy of the world and part of our national heritage, yet it’s easy to take for granted the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and recreational opportunities those parks provide without giving thought to the impact of more than a billion annual visits.

America’s National Park Service turned 100 years old last August. While that is reason to celebrate, we must face the reality that the infrastructure of our national and state parks is deteriorating faster than it can be fixed. For more than a decade, Congress has declined to provide adequate funding for national park infrastructure, resulting in a $12 billion maintenance backlog. State parks face a similar funding crisis – $18.5 billion in unmet repairs – as spending on education, health care and corrections takes priority over “nice-to-have” amenities.

For the public to enjoy the natural beauty of America’s parks, they require roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, buildings, trails and other infrastructure. Putting off basic maintenance leads to bigger, costlier repairs in the future and steadily degrades the parks and visitor experience.

As a newly-formed Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable works to ensure recreation is included in infrastructure legislation, union members are battling the crisis on the ground through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, demonstrating the centuries-old American spirit of rolling up one’s sleeves to solve the country’s problems.

Last year, 863 union volunteers donated nearly 6,800 skilled man-hours to complete 18 USA conservation projects in 15 states, saving state parks, wildlife refuges and other public land agencies a whopping $210,910 in labor costs.

For the first time this year, Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge has a central and secure facility to store thousands of pounds of dropped elk antlers – an important funding source both for the refuge and local Boy Scouts – thanks to volunteers from IBEW Local 322 who built the 20×26-ft. storage shed.

“We had these skilled tradesmen working alongside a Boy Scout, who was getting his Eagle Scout honor by participating in this project, alongside refuge staff,” said Natalie Fath, visitor services manager and volunteer coordinator at the National Elk Refuge. “This is really the first time this refuge has had a project this dynamic. I certainly have a better sense of the expertise union workers bring to federal lands. This project would not have been possible … if not for all of their involvement.”

That same level of teamwork and collaboration was illustrated in Texas last spring when the USA, AFL-CIO, U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined together to dedicate a boardwalk connecting the city of Liberty with the nearby Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. Built by volunteers from the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council who spent a grueling 950 hours battling heat, mud and mosquitos in the swamp, the 500-ft. elevated boardwalk and observation deck provide refuge visitors with access to more than 13 miles of trails and a more intimate view of the bayou.

“This project is a success story about how partnerships among agencies, communities and volunteers working together can accomplish great things,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, Ph. D.

Through a partnership between the USA and Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, volunteers from the Southcentral Alaska Building and Construction Trades Council began construction in 2016 on two cabins at the headwaters of Eklutna Lake in Chugach State Park – the third-largest state park in the nation. Unlike existing cabins, which are only reachable by foot, ATV or boat, the new drive-up accessible cabins will provide greater access for families with young children and people with disabilities.

At another lake in the Lower Forty Eight, 44 volunteers from the Ohio AFL-CIO volunteered an impressive 1,255 total hours – an average of 30 hours each – to replace dilapidated decking, railing and benches on a fishing pier at Ohio’s Antrim Park. Volunteers also installed a section of railing at a lower height to improve fishing access for youth and those with physical limitations.

In other parks and public recreation areas across the country, volunteer projects ranged from repairing horse stables and paddocks, painting Boy Scouts cabins, replacing windows, installing fishing piers and upgrading shooting facilities.

In addition to construction and maintenance projects, USA volunteers provided youth with fun and instruction at three annual Take Kids Fishing Day events in Wisconsin, a first time fishing day in West Virginia and the USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day in Minnesota.

As we celebrate the USA’s 10th anniversary this year, we are closing in on our 100th WBG project. Since WBG’s launch, dedicated union volunteers have donated more than 18,000 hours, worth more than $600,000 in labor costs, and we are just getting started. Though dark clouds may loom over parks faced with financial crisis, union members offer a ray of hope as they flex their muscles and wield their tools to ensure America’s public lands and outdoor recreation infrastructure remain for generations to come.

Q&A with a Union Leader – International President Kinsey Robinson

March 31, 2017 in General, Press Release


How did the USA peak your interest a decade ago?
Since the concept was first discussed, I have had a keen interest in the idea of a dedicated sportsmen’s organization solely for union members and their families. In 2002, a handful of concerned union leaders began to recognize that they had a responsibility to members that went well beyond traditional collective bargaining. They understood that 74 percent of union members hunt, fish and recreate in the outdoors and that as leaders, they had an obligation to demonstrate to those members that their unions appreciate and support what they do in their off-work hours.

How does the USA benefit your members?
The USA allows Roofers and Waterproofers to connect with like-minded members from other union organizations. Our members actively participate in the shooting tour, conservation dinners and conservation projects, and they enjoy the benefits provided through the magazine and “Brotherhood Outdoors.” Lastly, because we are a charter union, we enjoy the benefit of no-cost membership.

In just 10 short years, what USA accomplishments give you the most pride?
There are so many, many things that give me a sense of pride about the USA. It would be impossible to address them all. The fact that the organization has grown from a small group of concerned union sportsmen to more than 225,000 members is a source of great satisfaction to me. These numbers demonstrate the importance of the USA in the lives of union members. We have seen an outpouring of volunteerism because union members understand the value of conservation and giving back to their communities. It makes me proud that union members are willing to take up the challenge of protecting and restoring our natural environment.

What are your fondest memories from the last decade?
I have fond memories of participating in both shooting events and conservation dinners – seeing the enthusiasm generated by hundreds of union brothers and sisters sharing in their outdoor passion. It has been an honor for me to meet and engage members I would have not met if it were not for the USA and these great events.

Based on what you’ve observed over the last 10 years, why should union members join the USA?
During the next 10 years, the USA will see fantastic growth in membership and status. It will be recognized as one of the most potent forces in the conservation movement. There will be more involvement from rank-and-file members as they are becoming increasingly anxious about the impact that human activity will have on our precious natural resources and that their hunting and fishing opportunities can be permanently diminished. They understand that the investment of time and money to protect our landscape and wildlife will be a cost-effective investment in America. The USA is a way for union members to band together to harness the collective power of unions in order to protect wildlife and the environment. When we begin the process of restoring America’s land and water, restoration projects will provide good jobs, employing American workers – jobs that can’t be out-sourced to foreign countries. Our quality of life as union sportsmen and women is directly connected to the survival of fish and wildlife.

You and your wife, Mona, have directly affected thousands of people through the USA. Why is this so important to the Robinson family?
Mona and I are avid outdoors sportspersons. We spend the majority of our leisure time hunting, fishing and target shooting. We have a strong wish to pass on our great outdoor traditions to the young people in our community and throughout the country. The USA has given us an avenue to do just that through the many shooting events it puts on and the annual USA/Roofers Union “Get Youth Outdoors Day,” which is an event held in Minnesota that brings youth from union families together for a hands-on introduction to the shooting sports. The kids learn about hunter and firearm safety and how to shoot a compound bow. The experience of seeing young men and women laughing and smiling while learning about safety, responsibility, wildlife and the environment is priceless. Compliments from the parents and the enduring friendships we have made are most gratifying for us. It has been a gift to Mona and me to have the opportunity to mentor young people in the shooting sports. It is imperative to us that we share our outdoor heritage and do all we can to make sure future generations will always have access to a place to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors.

Raising an Organization – USA Celebrates 10 Years

March 31, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Kate Nation

As I wavered on the thin line between consciousness and falling asleep on my feet during one of my 6-month-old daughter’s nighttime crying fits, I found myself comparing the rearing of a child with establishing an organization. When I was hired in January 2007, the newly formed Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) was six months shy of opening its doors to members, and I was the third person on staff. The USA has changed a lot since then. While ample planning, expert advice, partnerships, research and examples can bring a lot to the table, so much of establishing and growing an organization comes down to trial and error and learning and adapting as you go, much like the rollercoaster ride of parenting

Much like children, an organization can grow up fast. Shoots and conservation dinners were not part of the USA’s early vision, but from the very first USA sporting clays shoot in June 2009, there was no denying the power of events in creating a sense of community among members. By 2010, the USA had a full-scale shooting program, and 2011 saw the introduction of a custom USA truck and trailer for transporting gear to events across the country. With the success of the shooting program, the USA tested the waters in 2012 with its first three conservation dinners and quickly tripled that number in 2013. Not only have these events become a staple within the USA community, they serve as significant fundraisers for the organization. In 2013, the USA grossed more than $1 million through shooting events, while USA conservation dinners broke that threshold in 2015.

The original vision for the USA was to be a one-of-a-kind club exclusively for union members and their families that hunt, shoot, fish and enjoy the outdoors. The concept was pretty simple: deliver value-added benefits away from the jobsite to union members who were passionate about the outdoors. With contests, giveaways, a dynamic website and TV show, it was an exciting, social program of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP).

Just shy of its third birthday, the USA experienced its most significant change. In order to better meet the needs of the union world with its own vision and mission, the leadership of the USA made the decision to separate from the TRCP in early 2010 to blaze a new trail as a stand-alone conservation organization.
For me and other staff, it was both an exciting and tense time as the USA experienced the growing pains that came with learning to stand on our own. Armed with a solid foundation, committed union leadership, a growing membership base and strong partnerships, the USA grew into the organization it is today. Our mission: “To unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.”

The USA continued to deliver value to its growing number of members and, recognizing a unique opportunity to tap into the diverse trade skills of union members, the USA launched its Work Boots on the Ground program in 2010. The objective of the program was to bring together union members who were willing to donate their time and talents to tackle hands-on, community-based conservation projects throughout North America. Thanks to a multitude of union volunteers, the USA completed an impressive 88 projects between 2010 and 2016 that improve public access to the outdoors, restore America’s parks, enhance wildlife habitats and mentor youth in the outdoors. In July 2014, the strength of the program led to a Memorandum of Understanding between the USA, AFL-CIO and Department of the Interior stating their collective commitment to rebuild, renew and restore our country’s national parks, national wildlife refuges and other public lands. As part of that partnership, the USA completed its largest conservation project to date in 2016 – the construction of a 500-ft.-long elevated boardwalk in the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. Nearing its one hundredth Work Boots on the Ground project, there is no doubt the USA has found an effective niche and brought the strength of the labor community to benefit conservation and our great outdoor heritage.

“I didn’t really expect much when I joined,” said Clayton Bolton, a member of IAMAW LL946/DL725 and one of the USA’s earliest members. “On the surface, it appeared to be a social group for union members that liked to hunt and fish. While it was pretty cool in the beginning just to be able to communicate and share with like-minded members scattered across the country, today’s USA involvement in community services and conservation efforts is beyond astounding.”

The USA has also seen a lot of change in its membership structure as it worked to strike a balance between growing membership and providing the greatest value to members. In addition to adjusting membership over the years, the USA executed a variety of recruitment campaigns including national giveaways, refer-a-friend campaigns, direct mail, events and more.

“The one thing I never expected is that the USA would be able to offer no-cost memberships to union workers belonging to charter unions,” said Roofers International President and USA Treasurer Kinsey Robinson. “This event has been a game changer, allowing every member of a charter union to join the USA without a financial burden.”

Though not every technique worked, and the changes were rarely easy, the USA has grown tremendously from March 2009 when it achieved its ten thousandth member. Today, the USA continues to grow and has more than 225,000 members.

“When I first heard about the USA, I was very excited there was finally an outdoor sportsmen’s organization for union members exclusively,” said Wess Ringgold, a member of UA Local 602 who joined the USA in 2007. “The extent of how fast the USA has grown in the last 10 years in mind boggling. What has surprised me is how many things union members can be involved in: conservation, gun-a-week calendars, USA shoots, Photo of the Week, conservation dinners and ‘Brotherhood Outdoors.’”

While the USA was fortunate to have a television presence from the beginning thanks to its union and corporate sponsors, the TV series has seen its own evolution since 2007. From changes in the production company, network, format and the very name of the program from “Escape to the Wild” to “Brotherhood Outdoors” in 2011, the USA has continually shared the compelling stories of hardworking union sportsmen and women with the American public. Those efforts led to a coveted Sportsman’s Choice Award for top hunting and fishing combination show in 2011.

“‘Brotherhood Outdoors’ has provided a great service to the Union community by selecting members (including me) for trips,” said Eric Patrick, business manager of IBEW Local 196 and longtime USA member. “The USA has educated the non-union community on the benefit of being a union member with the stories delivered on the series. They have basically put a face with a name.”

Like the TV series, the USA’s website, which went live the day the USA opened its doors, and the Union Sportsmen’s Journal, which began as a newspaper in 2009, were part of the USA’s early multimedia plan which connects thousands of USA members who may never meet face-to-face through engaging stories.

Like a parent, you can influence what a new organization will grow into, but to some extent, it takes on a life of its own. You have to be able and willing to adapt for it to flourish. It’s hard to believe that in January 2007, the USA was just an idea and a check for $1.2 million presented by nine unions as seed money. A decade later, it truly is a one-of-a-kind organization that not only connects the union community outside the workplace, but also boldly demonstrates what can be accomplished by volunteer union members to help preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

As we celebrate the USA’s tenth birthday this year, we extend our deepest thanks to you – union leadership and members, corporate partners and friends – for your steadfast support through all the ups and downs. Your hard work, sacrifice, financial support and dedication have made the USA one of America’s premier outdoor organizations, and we hope you will join us in shaping the next 10 years.

Electrical Worker Wins Trophy Hunt

March 28, 2017 in General, Press Release

Last fall, Dan Weber, a retired member of IBEW Local 34, won a trophy white-tailed deer hunt from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Sqwincher, a provider of hydration solutions for those in the field and on the worksite.

“You’re kidding me!” Weber exclaimed as Mike d’Oliveira, USA’s deputy director, let him know he won. “I’m not that lucky.”

That call was just the beginning of Weber’s journey. Shortly after, he received his gear for the hunt – a Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter FX muzzleloader and a Carhartt Rugged Outdoors Buckfield jacket and pants set. Then, on Dec. 3, he boarded the plane for Buffalo County, Wisconsin – the world’s top county for Pope & Young whitetails – where he spent five days at the Bluff Country Outfitters hunting lodge. Pat and Nicole Reeve, hosts of the TV show “Driven” on the Outdoor Channel, guided Weber on the hunt.

While searching for a trophy buck, the hunting party had to contend with the unseasonably warm weather which had the deer taking refuge deep in the woods. They spotted a few smaller bucks throughout the week, but no trophies. The last day of the hunt brought snow and cold air, but the glimmer of hope was short-lived as heavy winds reaching speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour soon followed, and once again, the big bucks stayed out of sight. Although Weber didn’t harvest a buck, he said the experience was one he’ll never forget. He’s even considering going back to lodge for a family vacation.

“I’ve thought about taking my wife and going there this summer just to spend time at the lodge again,” he said.

“We take it for granted,” said Pat Reeve, speaking about the hunting opportunities he and his wife have as TV hosts. “People who are electricians or work in other skilled trades don’t often get out into the field as much as we do, so when they do have the opportunity, they generally appreciate it that much more.”

Weber was an active member of his union for 47 years and still attends Local 34’s meetings to keep in touch with his union brothers and sisters. That kind of dedication is exactly what the USA and Sqwincher were hoping to reward.

“Partners like Sqwincher understand how hard our union brothers and sisters work,” said d’Oliveira. “Their generosity adds so much value to our organization and helps us show our members that we care deeply about their outdoor passion.”

USA Volunteers Renovate Oak Mountain Horse Barn

March 22, 2017 in General, Press Release

For years, Alabama State Parks have been unable to afford many necessary repairs and updates. To offer support, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) volunteers recently renovated a horse barn at Oak Mountain State Park, transforming a structure that had fallen into disrepair into a potential increased revenue source for the park.

While state parks often provide a first point of access for many to the outdoors, from 2011 to 2015, the Alabama State Parks saw $15 million from their budget transferred to other government programs. As a result, numerous upkeep projects were suspended, five parks closed and others were forced to limit their services and hours of operation.

Even Oak Mountain, Alabama’s largest state park, with more than 500,000 visitors annually, has been forced to contend with a budget and continually postpone infrastructure repairs, such as those required for the four barns near the front of the park.

“For years, we would come up with maintenance projects, and then the general fund would take millions from the state parks,” said David Johnson, office superintendent, Oak Mountain. “That would drastically affect what we could do, so things like the stables got put to the side every year.”

Furthermore, the barns could help to offset park operating costs. Oak Mountain currently boards 18 horses for a monthly rate of $450 each and has the potential to board eight more with the new renovations.

It was after the USA’s 2nd Annual Alabama Conservation Dinner in September, held to raise funds for a local project, that Patrick Cagle, president of the JobKeepers Alliance, spoke with state park officials and identified the barn renovations as one their most pressing needs. With the support of Bren Riley, president of the Alabama AFL-CIO, and Donald Stanley, president of the Alabama BCTC and business manager for Insulators Local 78, the dinner brought together 200 attendees and energized the union community to volunteer to improve outdoor access for their fellow Alabamians and out-of-state visitors.

One of the dinner attendees, Craig Francis, apprenticeship and training coordinator at Insulators Local 78, volunteered to serve as the project manager and encouraged his apprentices to lend a hand, as well.

“I consistently preach to our apprentices the importance of contributing to the community,” said Francis. “In the past, we’ve helped clean up areas damaged by tornadoes, and this project at Oak Mountain seemed like another great opportunity to aid the wider Alabama community.”

More than 40 volunteers began work on Nov. 26 and replaced the siding, built and installed new Dutch doors and set new fence posts for the paddocks. In addition to Francis and numerous apprentices, Glenn Welden, president of Insulators Local 78, and Ricky Aaron, another apprenticeship instructor, also assisted with the renovations, and several employees from Oak Mountain helped run the auger to dig holes for the fence posts.

“Our state park system is heavily dependent on the support of our partners, volunteers and the communities where we exist,” said Greg Lein, director, Alabama State Parks. “It’s organizations like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Alabama AFL-CIO and Alabama Building and Construction Trades Council giving their time and talents that really make parks like Oak Mountain such a great success.”

Made in the USA: Henry Repeating Arms Lever Action .410 Shotgun

March 21, 2017 in Articles, General, Hunting

Henry Repeating Arms has introduced two lever action .410 bore shotguns for those who like their small-gauge shotgunning to be done through a quick-handling platform they’re familiar with in rimfire and centerfire versions already used in the field.

Both model variants are based on Henry’s blued steel-framed .45-70 Lever Action, with five-shot tube-loading magazines chambered for 2.5” shells only, dark straight-grained American walnut furniture, pistol grip wrists, checkering fore and aft, sling-swivel studs and a good thick non-slip ventilated black rubber recoil pad at the rear. Whether you’re in a camp that regards the .410 as a beginner’s gauge or a camp that considers it a specialist’s gauge, Henry’s got you covered with these two new models. MSRP $850-$902

From the Director’s Desk: A Milestone for Union Sportsmen

March 16, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Scott Vance, CEO & Executive Director, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance

What do you think of when someone says “a decade?” Most of us probably think of our own lives and how fast the years have gone by. I can certainly relate as my beard has turned gray and at least a portion of my hair has turned loose over these past 10 years! The most significant event in my entire life happened just 10 years ago when I became a dad. A decade used to seem like a long, long time to me, but as I’ve put more decades in my log book, they now seem shorter than ever.

The renowned iPhone was released just 10 years ago. YouTube was launched in late 2006 and now houses nearly 82 million videos. Ten years ago, Facebook was made available to anyone over the age of 13 and now has 1.8 billion users. Ten years, ago Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana. And last, but certainly not least, just 10 short years ago, several visionary union labor leaders and conservationists announced that they were forming a group called the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) that would unite labor unions all across this great nation for conservation and the preservation of our outdoor heritage.

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been 10 short years since our union leaders teamed with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) to form what is now a thriving and influential conservation organization. In those ten years, a tremendous amount has happened. The USA has grown from a sportsmen’s club into a true conservation powerhouse that makes a difference in hundreds of thousands of lives each year through our Work Boots on the Ground and youth outreach programs. Each year, thousands of union members come to connect and enjoy USA dinners and sporting clays shoots that help drive our conservation efforts. The USA has also grown into a permanent, self-sustaining non-profit which no longer requires the support of TRCP, but it still strongly values the partnership and relationships we’ve built together.

I am still very much a rookie with the USA, but in my few months on the team I find myself constantly awed and energized by the overarching concept and untapped potential. Uniting patriotic, tireless union members through conservation and for conservation leaves a legacy that will live on long after we all are gone. We put to work the innovation, knowledge, determination and drive of a labor community that has a resilient and an undying dedication to the progress and success of this country. We are connected by shared skills, bound by a common purpose, and united by a passion to leave things better than we found them. Harnessing the power of our labor unions and putting that energy to work for conservation was not only visionary, but it also has the potential to be the most influential thing to happen for conservation in a very long time.

In a few months we will complete our one hundredth Work Boots on the Ground project. What a testament this milestone project is to the men and women who volunteer their time, skills and resources to help others enjoy the outdoors. Started in 2010, the Work Boots on the Ground program has improved access to millions of acres of wild places and connected thousands of people to the outdoors. Our goal is to not only continue these vitally important conservation infrastructure projects, but to substantially grow them over the next several years. As state and federal agency budgets continue to shrink, the USA will become even more important to building and sustaining the vital infrastructures of our parks, wildlife management areas and public waters.

We are also focused on growing our community outreach programs. We want to create a fun and safe learning environment that not only allows you, and your family, to spend more time enjoying the outdoors, but also unites a community around conservation, labor and outdoor heritage. USA members tell us that three things are vitally important to them when it comes to the outdoors. First, they want to spend more time in the outdoors with family and friends. Secondly, they want to have more places to hunt, fish, shoot, camp, boat and recreate outdoors and they want quality experiences when they do these things. And, finally, they want to pass along this vitally important outdoor heritage to the next generation. The USA wants to build programs and events that do all of these things. We will need your input, ideas and, most importantly, your energy to help us grow the next generation of conservation leaders and the next chapter for the USA. The time to change the future of conservation is now, and I know that together we are up for that challenge.

I am enthusiastic, excited and a little impatient to see what the next 10 years hold for our organization and our great nation. I am honored and humbled to be a part of something so wonderful and with so much potential, and I can’t wait to be part of it with you and your family as our partners.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance inks MOU with Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever

March 10, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Jess Levens

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever (PF/QF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday at a cosponsored breakfast at the 82nd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Spokane, Washington.

The partnership will last through March 7, 2020, and allows the organizations to team up on conservation and habitat projects, mentored hunts, volunteer training and education.

The USA is a non-profit conservation group created by and for union members and their families. What makes the USA truly unique is that it harnesses the power of expertly-trained union volunteers who put their professional skills to use by tackling projects that create or improve public access to the outdoors, improve wildlife habitats, mentor youth in the outdoors and restore America’s parks, which are in disrepair and backlogged by tens of billions of dollars. The USA also raises funds that cover materials and equipment through local conservation dinners, sporting clays and trap shoots, plus a new fishing tournament program.

USA’s CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance and PF/QF’s President and CEO Howard Vincent signing MOU

PF/QF will lend its expertise in wildlife biology and habitat conservation to identify collaborative opportunities and set the USA’s massive, expert volunteer workforce in motion.

“We are honored to partner with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever as we collaboratively mobilize our volunteer work force to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and our next generation of conservationists,” said Scott Vance, USA’s CEO and executive director. “Their willingness to partner with our union sportsmen ultimately helps both organizations do more for conservation.”

Like the USA, PF/QF is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization driven by its conservation mission. This like-mindedness will help all involved ease into the partnership as we focus on hunter recruitment, retention and activation, as well as habitat conservation through infrastructure and prescribed burning, said Vance.

“The recipe to create wildlife habitat in 2017 is to build bigger partnerships and engage larger groups of people,” said Howard Vincent, PF/QF’s president and CEO. “I am thrilled to formally welcome the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to the prairies, fields and banquet halls where our organization works to create habitat for pheasants, quail, pollinators, monarchs and hunters. Together as partners, we can all do more for wildlife and our hunting heritage.”

AFL-CIO President and USA Chairman Richard L. Trumka, an avid sportsman and conservationist, said he is proud of this partnership and eager to see the future results.

“It gives me great pride to see the USA join forces with Pheasants Forever, a respected conservation organization,” said Trumka. “The USA has completed 88 high-impact conservation projects since 2010, and those are just the beginning of what we can do with strategic partnerships with other non-government organizations. I believe USA is poised to make a greater impact in communities across this nation than ever before.”

This partnership comes on the heels of a similar MOU signed between the USA and angling giant Pure Fishing, Inc., last month.

“By teaming with like-minded partners, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is expanding not only our conservation footprint, but also our ability to connect our union members and their families to the outdoors,” said Vance.

About Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever: Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 149,000 members and 720 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $708 million on 517,000 habitat projects benefiting 15.8 million acres nationwide.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Turkey Prep (not a recipe)

March 8, 2017 in Articles, General, Hunting

By: Chris Ellis

I remember not that long ago, it seemed like the sport of turkey hunting used to be easy – grab a few shells from the gun cabinet and an old, reliable pump shotgun and hit the woods. The hardest part was walking back to the truck with the turkey and plucking the feathers neatly enough so that none of them made it to the dinner plate.

As with most things in life, we humans tend to complicate matters – especially matters we care deeply about. In the true spirit of complication, as a pre-season ritual, a band of avid turkey hunters set a date on their calendars to meet at the gun range for our annual turkey-gun-patterning session.

My crew showed up at a predetermined locale with one goal in mind – to pattern our shotguns for the spring gobbler season. You see, turkey season is considered by most to be a short season, and in that short amount of time die-hards want everything predictable to be well, predictable. So, with a mixture of no less than 12 variety of shells with various forms of shot, shotguns of all makes and models, a plethora of choke tubes and targets, we were bound and determined to see which turkey load/choke combination would serve our needs the best in the weeks ahead. (With all of us bringing a mixture of shells and chokes, we saved time and money by each of us not having to buy everything individually. We all share the initial cost of setting up our shotguns.)

To save the shoulders (and wallets) from soreness, we started with target loads at the 25-yard line. Once our shotguns were sighted in some with beaded sights and some with optics, we switched to mega-magnum loads and began the process of increasing yardage to see just how far we could shoot and still have an effective pattern on the turkey target. Some shotguns patterned easily and required no choke change or load modifications while others were finicky and took many different combination trials to gain headway. The ranges varied from 15 to 40 yards until we were satisfied that our field guns were ready for the chance to wreck Old Tom’s day.

With the speak of shotshell pellet ballistics (internal, external and of course terminal performance), our motley crew of worn out turkey hunters sounded like an article I once read about the how a shotgun actually works, and I am sure if recorded, we could have sold the session to one of the outdoor television networks and appeared really smart … Until, someone brought up the a “favorite” complicated topic for turkey hunters: How far of a shot is too far?

The conversation quickly turned to field experience, and old tales of miraculous hits and misses began surfacing. Someone knew someone who knew a guy who shot a dreaded field turkey at 60 paces and dropped it like a stone. Others laughed and said it is best not to “stretch” the barrels and wait until the turkey is at a much more suitable distance before firing.

Perhaps the best advice came in the form of two memorable quotes from this particular range session: “Wait until you can clearly see the definition of the folds in the gobbler’s wattle,” said a tenured turkey hunter.

The second bit of advice that proved to be truer than any: “Boy, all these shotguns pattern well at 25 yards.”

The biggest dilemma in setting up your shotgun for turkey hunting is getting a pattern you like and are confident in both close and long-range situations. Setting a shotgun up for ultra-long shots that throw a softball-sized pattern at 45 yards can mean that if a turkey sticks his head up at seven steps away, that shotgun is now going to be so super tightly patterned that making that shot can be tricky. I’ve seen many turkeys missed at close range with super-magnum set-ups that your granddaddy’s old .410 shotgun would have clobbered the bird. On the flipside, if you pattern your shotgun with a load/choke combination to have the perfect pattern at 15 yards, and Old Tom steps out at 43 yards, that shot can be tricky, too. Finding a happy medium in both range and pattern densities is the key to having assurance in the field. When the old gobbler finally presents himself to you, having that load and pattern data and knowing your ideal effective yardages will give you confidence to take the shot.

When setting up your shotgun for turkey hunting, don’t complicate things. More importantly, spend some time at the range practicing hunt scenarios.


Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Adds to Leadership Team

March 8, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Kate Nation

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has hired Brian Dowler to be its new director of membership, marketing and communications, as well as Forrest Parker as its new director of conservation and community outreach.

Created by and dedicated to union members and their families, the non-profit conservation organization is escalating its conservation efforts, partnerships and memberships and expanding internally to keep pace.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is more focused than ever on uniting the union community through conservation,” said Scott Vance, the USA’s CEO and executive director. “We are committed to growing our conservation impact through partnerships, volunteer empowerment and good old union ingenuity. We look to greatly expand the scope of our Work Boots on the Ground program in the coming years and also connect more local communities to conservation through family and youth outreach events.”

Brian Dowler

Brian Dowler

Dowler served as the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) director of membership marketing and industry partnerships. In his nearly 13 years working for the NWTF, Dowler handled the organization’s direct mail and digital marketing efforts, helping grow NWTF’s adult membership and non-event fundraising revenue. He also managed the organization’s relationships with endemic retail and affinity partners. Prior to his role in marketing, Dowler served NWTF’s members through its communications efforts as public relations manager.

Dowler hopes to increase membership value proposition through new benefits and affinity partnerships, bring greater awareness to the USA’s good work for conservation and create stronger relationships with endemic partners and USA members.

“Brian brings a diverse history in non-profit membership acquisition and retention, direct fundraising and communications,” said Vance. “Our charter unions and labor partners have done tremendous things for conservation over the past decade, and we believe Brian can bring a new dimension to our organization. We are happy to welcome him to the team.”

Dowler, a passionate hunter, angler and recreational shooter, hails from Parkersburg, West Virginia, and graduated from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. He currently lives with his wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Emily, in Martinez, Georgia.

In his role as director of conservation and community outreach, Parker will lead the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program and work to increase the reputations of unions in their local communities through youth outreach events, volunteer infrastructure projects and more. Parker plans to key in on new conservation partners – other non-profit and for-profit organizations – and select projects with highly tangible impact that will drive more community engagement.

Forrest Parker

Forrest Parker

“Forrest’s impressive background in conservation, project management and infrastructure construction make him extremely qualified to lead the charge for our conservation programs,” said Vance. “His passion for the outdoors and passing along our conservation heritage to the next generation drives him to constantly strive to connect more people to hunting, angling, shooting and other natural pursuits. He’s the perfect addition to our team to help connect more of our union members to an enlightening, healthy and rewarding outdoor experience.”

Parker, who enjoys adventure hunting worldwide, most recently served as the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority’s executive director of engineering. He spent the previous decade serving the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, where he created innovative, sustainable conservation programs and sportsmen-based revenue programs such as the Cherokee Trout Fishing Enterprise, which has a $24 million annual impact.  Parker’s volunteer experience includes serving as executive director for Talking Trees Children’s Trout Derby, a founding member of the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians and an advisor for the South Carolina Fellowship of Christian Athletes Annual Hank Parker Invitational Charity Shoot.

Parker earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management and policy from Western Carolina University and resides in his hometown of Cherokee, North Carolina, with his wife, Amy, and two daughters, Faith and Reagan.

The USA harnesses the power of expertly-trained union volunteers who put their professional skills to use by tackling projects that create or improve public access to the outdoors, improve wildlife habitats, mentor youth in the outdoors and restore America’s parks, which are in disrepair and backlogged by tens of billions of dollars. Vance said the additions of Dowler and Parker will undoubtedly help the USA build a strong reputation as a conservation powerhouse and grow its membership of 225,000-plus union members and their families.

Both Dowler and Parker have begun work at the USA and can be reached at and respectively.

Big Smallies: Get Ahead of the Pre-Spawn

March 7, 2017 in Articles, Fishing, General

By: Chris Ellis

A trophy-sized fish is what drives us to spend so much time, energy and money on our passion – fishing. So, when a group of anglers starts the conversation about catching big fish, it doesn’t take long until the phrase “pre-spawn” rears its ugly head.

The pre-spawn time in fishing can be a mystery. In fact, it’s hard to predict the exact time, and circling dates on your calendar as fishing days is well, tricky. Throw in predicting the weather and water temperatures during the spring, and you might just have a full-blown planning nightmare on your hands.

So why do we put ourselves through this? Just like hunting the rut to deer hunters searching for the elusive big buck, fishing the pre-spawn is considered “the time” to fool big fish into biting. Why? Let’s take a look.

To simplify a complicated subject, I decided to pick a species. I’ll start with river fishing and smallmouth bass – my home-water species – and try to unlock the mysteries of catching trophy bass during the pre-spawn.

In short, spawning for smallmouth bass just involves the male finding and preparing the nest, the female laying her eggs while the male fertilizes them, and then the male guarding the nest, and young, for a period of time. They don’t spawn on any one specific day or week though. It tends to be spread out over a period of time, like a bell curve, with a few spawning at the beginning, and ending, of the spawning period.

Lengthening days is what triggers the spawn of all fish, just as it causes turkeys to gobble and the rest of nature to come alive, but the water temperatures also play into it. I’ve always felt that smallmouth actively spawned mostly between 58 and 62 degrees on the rivers of my home in West Virginia.

But rivers aren’t lakes, and different sections may have different water temperatures caused by depth, creek or spring influence and where the river flows from – i.e. bottom or top release dams or free flowing from high in the mountains. Each river and section of river is different and the nearly month-long spawn may occur at different times depending on the body of water.

Look for male bass to be making the nest and guarding it. Also, smallmouth need a clean grave to spawn, so they often times have to fan out areas to keep them clean. Catching a bass with a tail that has sores or areas rubbed raw is a tell-tale sign.

Why is fishing the pre-spawn so productive or is the pre-spawn just another fishing tale?

The myth may come from the fish “feeding up” for the upcoming spawn, which is a big stress on their bodies. Females use a lot of energy producing eggs, and the males use up lots of energy guarding the nests.

We have all heard folks say they catch females off the nest, but only the males guard the nest. Perhaps they caught a female hanging nearby that was going to lay her eggs with the guarding male, but only the males guard. Having said that, it is when the males are in guard mode that they are most susceptible to the hook.

Also, the fish may be more available because they have moved into certain areas where they stage up before spawning. Even though smallmouth aren’t really schooling fish like walleye, you can still pattern them because they will tend to be in the same-type areas.

Back when I was a fishing guide for smallmouth bass in my home state, there were a few old crusty river guides that understood the stages of the spawn and how best to catch fish much better than I. They were good – really good. I was convinced, like most young guides, that the old guards had a magic bait or a secret go-to technique. It wasn’t until later that one of the old river rats told me his secret.

“Think like a bass. You know the water is going to rise in the spring, so you have to build your nest for your young someplace hidden and safe,” he said in a whisper so that the others in the local hangout couldn’t hear. “Look behind the downstream-side of an island or a point of river bank, the inside bend in the river where the water will eddy during high flows, behind large boulders and big rocks in the water – anyplace safe and sound. But here is the key; the river’s bottom must be right. Smallmouth like clean rocky, gravel bottoms. They don’t like mud.”

“Find and mentally mark these areas in the late summer and early fall when the water is low and clear. Remember them well. Come next spring, you will know the best kept secret in fishing – fish where the fish are!” So, you want to catch more big fish during the pre-spawn? Perhaps the best answer is to fish where the fish are.

There are many natural enemies of the smallmouth nest – lots of egg-eating fish out there that will decimate a nest if the male bass is gone including sunfish, minnows, etc. As for the fry and young of the year fish, once the male leaves them, they are just another small fish trying to survive long enough to grow up. So, fishing baits that mimic these natural enemies, as well as having the baits rigged correctly
so that they bounce along the bottom, is key.

Larry Nibert of the West Virginia Experience suggested these Top 5 Lures for river smallmouth fishing during the pre-spawn:

  1. 3 ½ – 4-inch tube baits. Any earth-toned color. Rigged on either weedless/slip sinker or with inserted lead head.
  2. Z-Man Big TRD stick baits. Rigged wacky or Carolina (wacky-rigged is preferred).
  3. G-Tail grubs. Any earth-toned color. Rigged with 1/8 to 1/4-ounce grub lead head.
  4. Swimbaits – Paddle tail. Any earth-toned color or two-toned. Rigged with swimbait lead head of ¼-ounce or larger.
  5. Suspending jerk baits.

Union Volunteers Refurbish Cedar Hill State Park Facilities, Provide Training for At-Risk Youth

March 2, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Kate Nation

As Texas state parks struggle with hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, union members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area volunteered their time and unique trade skills on Feb. 24 and 25 through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program to refurbish safety railings at two scenic overlooks, install benches and paint a primitive restroom at Cedar Hill State Park.

Between prep and on-site work, 26 volunteers from the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 100 and Sprinkler Fitters Local 669, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 20, International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 21, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Job Corps and Morgan Stanley Investment Group, along with several family members, logged more than 197 hours to complete the projects. In addition to donating labor, union members raised the $2,334 needed for lumber and other materials at the USA’s Dallas-Fort Worth Area Conservation Dinner last year.

While improving the park, the project also provided hands-on training for four students from the IUPAT Job Corps, which gives at-risk and underprivileged youth academic and vocational training to prepare them for the job market.

“We enjoy the comradery of Union Sportsmen’s Alliance conservation projects,” said Texas State Building Trades President and UA Local 100 Business Manager Craig Berendzen, who led the projects. “Volunteering our time and skills makes us feel good and provides an avenue for us to get the message out that union members really care about their communities. Sometimes we are our best kept secret.”

Being so close to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and its more than six million residents, Cedar Hill State Park is an integral part of the community for outreach, interpretation, education and economic impact. It is also the site of the USA’s first state park project in 2013, which involved union volunteers reconstructing three dilapidated bridges.

“Since Work Boots on the Ground began in 2010, union volunteers have donated more than 18,000 hours and $600,000 in labor costs to improve access to wild places across the country and connect thousands of people to the outdoors,” said Scott Vance, USA CEO and executive director. “Our goal is to not only continue these vitally important conservation infrastructure projects, but to substantially grow them. As state and federal agency budgets continue to shrink, the USA is committed to helping build and sustain the vital infrastructures of our parks, wildlife management areas and public waters.”

Set in Stone: OPCMIA Cements Commitment to USA

March 1, 2017 in General, Press Release

By: Kate Nation

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is pleased to welcome the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association (OPCMIA) as its newest charter union. Joining the ranks of the AFL-CIO, Building and Construction Trades Department and 14 labor unions, OPCMIA solidified its commitment to help the USA fulfill its conservation mission through valuable financial support and promotional resources.

Through their sponsorships, charter unions provide their members with the added benefit of a no-cost USA membership, which means active and retired OPCMIA members can now join the USA for no cost and get access to the USA’s digital magazine, promotions and giveaways, member-only discounts and more.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce that OPCMIA has joined the USA as a charter union,” said OPCMIA General President Daniel E. Stepano. “The USA unites union members who love the great outdoors and are willing to volunteer their unique trade skills to help protect our outdoor heritage for future generations. By organizing conservation dinners and shooting events across the country, the USA creates a unique atmosphere where all union members – from a young apprentice to a general president – can come together off the job site and bond over their passion for the outdoors and all the recreation it offers.”

Matt Gehris, OPCMIA Local 11, got his first turkey as a guest on "Brotherhood Outdoors."

Matt Gehris, OPCMIA Local 11, got his first turkey as a guest on “Brotherhood Outdoors.”

Boasting a longstanding relationship with the USA, OPCMIA members were involved in the USA’s very first hands-on conservation project in 2010 where union volunteers, including OPCMIA Local 599, assisted the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with a white-tailed deer study. OPCMIA members also repaved a wheelchair accessible trail at Virginia’s York River State Park, replaced gravel with concrete in a picnic area at Iowa’s Lake Ahquabi State Park and assisted at the USA’s Take Kids Fishing Day events, among other conservation projects and USA events.

Each year, OPCMIA Locals 633 and 518 have teams at the USA’s Twin Cities and Kansas City sporting clays shoots, and OPCMIA locals have purchased tables at the USA’s Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and Des Moines conservation dinners. Perhaps most notably, the USA’s television series, “Brotherhood Outdoors,” featured Matt Gehris, a member of OPCMIA Local 11, on his very first turkey hunt in 2013.

“As we celebrate the USA’s tenth anniversary, we are honored and very proud of the growing number of unions that have pledged their support to the USA’s conservation mission and provided their members who hunt, fish, shoot and recreate outdoors access to an organization they can call their own,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “The USA is for unions, by unions, and partners like OPCMIA help keep the USA as strong and durable as the plaster and concrete its skilled members craft on the job site each and every day.”

USA, Pure Fishing Hook Up with New MOU

February 22, 2017 in Fishing, General, Press Release

Franklin, Tenn. – The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and angling product powerhouse Pure Fishing, Inc., have hooked up to improve the future of angling and conservation across America. To memorialize the partnership, the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday in Washington D.C., that will last through March 8, 2020.

The purpose of the partnership is to work collaboratively on angler recruitment, retention and reactivation programs and events and jointly develop a national angler recruitment program that connects union and non-union families to the benefits of angling and the outdoors.

Ultimately, both organizations feel this partnership will help ensure a rich future of fishing in America. Pure Fishing produces more than 30,000 pieces of angling equipment, and its portfolio features some of the top brands in fishing. Through its strong volunteer workforce and support from its 17 affiliates and charter unions, the USA has completed nearly 100 volunteer projects and community outreach events since 2010.

“The USA’s dedicated union volunteers have already introduced thousands of families to the outdoors, with potential to reach many more,” said AFL-CIO President and USA Chairman Richard L. Trumka. “Partnerships with industry pace setters, such as Pure Fishing, are exactly what it will take to build these programs to a level that secures the future of angling, and hunting, in the United States.”

Scott Vance, USA’s CEO and executive director, said he feels strongly that this pairing is primed to make a major impact on people’s lives.

“We are very honored to have Pure Fishing as our partner as we expand our angling recruitment and retention programs nationwide,” said Vance. “Their brands represent some of the best outdoor products in the world, and their support will help us connect thousands of youth and their families to an outdoor pursuit that is healthy, fun and sustainable. This partnership will also help union members give back to their local communities in ways that enrich lives and natural resources for everyone.”

John Doerr, Pure Fishing’s president and CEO, also expressed great optimism about what can be accomplished with Pure Fishing’s experience and resources combined with the USA’s skilled labor force of more than 225,000 union members.

“We are excited about our new partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, as it dovetails perfectly with existing Pure Fishing initiatives to protect and restore fishable waters and fish populations both today and in the future,” said Doerr. “We look forward to partnering with the hardworking men and women of the USA in their efforts to improve access to fisheries and provide education to ensure that current and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the great sport of fishing.”


About Pure Fishing, Inc.: Pure Fishing, Inc. is a leading global provider of fishing tackle, lures, rods and reels with a portfolio of brands that includes Abu Garcia®, All Star®, Berkley®, Chub®, Fenwick®, Greys®, Hardy®, Hodgman®, Johnson®, JRC®, Mitchell®, Penn®, Pflueger®, Sebile®, Shakespeare®, SpiderWire®, Stren®, and Ugly Stik®.

With operations in 19 countries and a dedicated workforce conversant in 28 languages, Pure Fishing, Inc. is a subsidiary of Newell Brands, Inc.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

USA Taps Rusted Rooster to Produce Brotherhood Outdoors

January 20, 2017 in Brotherhood Outdoors TV, General, Press Release

Jonathan Scaife, IAFF Local 3690, poses with his freshly-harvested white-tailed buck on the revamped Brotherhood Outdoors, which is now produced by Rusted Rooster Media.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has enlisted outdoor television powerhouse Rusted Rooster Media to take over production of Brotherhood Outdoors.

Brotherhood Outdoors is entering its ninth season with new episodes on Sportsman Channel beginning in July.

Rusted Rooster, founded and operated by brothers Chris and Casey Keefer, is the production house behind TV shows Sheep Shape and Dropped. The group will produce nine original episodes of Brotherhood Outdoors for the third and fourth quarters of 2017, and nine episodes in 2018. Rusted Rooster also works with industry giants such as Buck Knives, PSE and Winchester.

Brotherhood Outdoors takes real, hardworking, American union members – selected through an application process – on a hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime, while highlighting their home and work lives. The show gives viewers a look at everyday people on realistic excursions. The show also offers a glimpse of the USA’s conservation efforts, which are executed by an all-volunteer union labor force.

With 2017 marking the USA’s first decade, its leaders decided a big, bold move for Brotherhood Outdoors was in order.

“Television offers our organization a way to highlight our members’ dedication to their skills, their families and their hunting and angling passions,” said Scott Vance, executive director, USA. “Rusted Rooster has a proven track record in outdoor television production and a vision that, I believe, will elevate Brotherhood Outdoors to a new level of excellence in television.”

According to Chris Keefer, Brotherhood Outdoors will be more focused on the individual guest each episode in order to build a deeper personal connection and a more intimate outdoor experience for viewers. In its first eight seasons, the show had a traditional, host-driven format, but the Keefer brothers have plans that are refreshingly non-traditional.

Brotherhood Outdoors is such a unique concept,” said Chris Keefer. “We have high hopes and great things in store as we work to make each episode a personalized cinematic story for each guest. We really want viewers to identify with the people on the show and see quality hunting and fishing trips.”

Active and retired union members can apply to be on the show by submitting the online application at

Additional episodes of Brotherhood Outdoors can be viewed at

About Rusted Rooster Media: Rusted Rooster Media is an award-winning production house based in Midland, MI. The creative team at “The Roost” is best known for their commitment to telling a great story, and their ability to mine out every last bit of human interest that can be found, from every angle.

Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel/Sportsman HD is a television and digital media company fully devoted to honoring a lifestyle that is celebrated by millions of Americans. A division of Outdoor Sportsman Group, Sportsman Channel delivers entertaining and informative programming that showcases outdoor adventure, hunting and fishing, and illustrates it through unique and authentic storytelling. Sportsman Channel embraces the attitude of “Red, Wild & Blue America” – where the American Spirit and Great Outdoors are celebrated in equal measure. Sportsman Channel reaches more than 36 million U.S. television households. Stay connected to Sportsman Channel online at, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

From the Director’s Desk – Fall 2016

November 14, 2016 in Articles, General


Alaskan Union Volunteers Build Public Use Cabins

November 14, 2016 in Alaska, Articles, Conservation News, General, Work Boots On The Ground


Put & Take: The Other Trout

November 14, 2016 in Articles, Fishing, General


Mule Deer: A Classic American Hunt

November 14, 2016 in Articles, General, Hunting

MULE DEER: A classic American hunt

Union Leader Q&A: NFLPA

November 14, 2016 in Articles, General


Man vs. Ram

November 14, 2016 in Articles, General, Hunting, Meet a Member

Man versus ram

Houdini’s Last Escape

November 14, 2016 in Articles, General, Hunting, Meet a Member


USA appoints Scott Vance executive director

August 9, 2016 in General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has appointed Scott Vance as its new executive director. Vance will begin his new role Sept. 1.

Scott Vance

Scott Vance

Vance currently serves as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) vice president for hunting heritage and executive director for hunting heritage centers. In his nearly 17 years at NWTF, Vance piloted many successful endeavors, including leading a multi-national, multi-disciplinary team of wildlife and conservation professionals to restore the Gould’s wild turkey to southern Arizona.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is doing outstanding things for communities, wildlife and our conservation legacy,” said Vance. “It is with tremendous excitement and gratitude that I accept this auspicious role. The opportunities that lie ahead for us are enormous, and the ability to serve the USA as we conserve our nation’s treasured resources is deeply humbling and incredibly exhilarating. I look forward to helping enhance the lives of union sportsmen and women and their families in ways that are fun, rewarding and impactful.”

With a background rich in wildlife conservation and biology plus his proven track record of successful, creative problem solving and nearly two decades of experience in the non-profit sector, Vance said he sees a wealth of potential in the USA and is eager to lead the 9-year-old non-profit into its next decade.

“We are at a critical crossroads in our country, and ensuring a strong conservation future depends on skilled, knowledgeable, dedicated people to make it happen,” said Vance. “I couldn’t be more confident that the men and women of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance are those kind of people.”

Vance is a hunter and angler who spends time outdoors with his family and his champion bird dog, Hydro. For him, the USA’s mission of conservation and preserving America’s outdoor heritage goes beyond work – it’s a part of his everyday life.

“Scott Vance has all the credentials to lead the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, but it’s his genuine passion for the outdoors and conservation that set him apart as the clear choice,” said AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, who serves as the USA’s chairman of the board. “He not only believes in our organizational values, but he lives them every day. I know that Scott has the vision and experience to propel the USA to new heights.”

NFLPA, USA Team Up to Put the ‘Sport’ in ‘Sportsmen’

June 22, 2016 in General, Press Release

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) officially signed on to support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) as its sixteenth governing affiliate. The decision was a result of years of dialogue discussing how the two organizations could work together to enhance the value for their members, and the partnership was solidified with the recent appointment of NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to the USA Board of Directors.

Many NFL players and former players (Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Adam Vinatieri and Joe Thomas, to name a few) are avid outdoorsmen who enjoy hunting, fishing and spending time in nature with friends and family. The NFLPA and its members also place great importance on volunteerism and community service, according to Nolan Harrison, former NFL player and current Senior Director of Former Player Services. With the USA’s mission to unite the union community for conservation and its unique environment of fellowship in the outdoors, the partnership is a natural pairing.

“We are always looking for ways to connect with our larger family of organized labor,” said Smith. “Because so many of our players participate in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities during the off season, the USA became a natural way for us to get our players more involved in this union and with other union members outside the football world. With so many different unions with different goals, I believe we always have to focus on the things we have in common. When I look to the USA, I look to it as one of the ways we can focus on the core things that bind us together.”


Former Redskin and now USA member Dave Butz (center) took the high over all individual award at the USA’s 4th Semi-Annual IAMAW St. Louis Area Shoot.

With some NFLPA members already in the USA’s ranks, the opportunity to extend the involvement to all current and former players will go a long way in building excitement and participation in events and volunteer projects, plus it will certainly – to borrow a line from AFL-CIO President and USA Chairman Richard L. Trumka – add more muscle to the conservation movement.

“We are ecstatic to have the NFL Players Association join the USA as its newest governing affiliate,” said USA Deputy Director Mike d’Oliveira. “They represent so many members who share a deep passion for our outdoor heritage, and we welcome them and their families with open arms to our growing team of hardworking sportsmen and women.”

With the NFLPA’s charter-level support, active and former NFL players can join the USA at no cost and are encouraged to participate in the organization’s fundraising dinners, sporting clays shoots and volunteer conservation projects that improve public access to the outdoors, enhance wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth to be responsible stewards of our wild spaces.

Pull the Trigger on Your 2017 USA Calendar Order

June 16, 2016 in Articles, General

2017 USA Calendar inside reader spreads.inddBelieve us—we get it.  Everywhere you turn, somebody is looking for a donation.  When they are all good causes, how do you choose?  We made it extremely easy for you.

Six Simple Reasons to Donate to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance:

  1. You value hunting, fishing, shooting and America’s great outdoors, and your donation will support the USA’s conservation mission.
  2. Partners that donate $2,000 to the USA by Sept. 1, 2016 will receive 100 of the USA’s 2017 calendars and a Remington gun.  Those calendars and the gun can be used to raise funds for worthy union causes.
  3. Partners that donate $1,000 to the USA by Sept. 1, 2016 will receive 50 of the USA’s 2017 calendars and a Carhartt jacket.  Again, they can be used as a fundraiser.
  4. Everybody needs a 2017 calendar to remember important events, appointments as well as anniversaries and birthdays (better safe than sorry, guys).
  5. The calendar is a great way to enter the USA’s 2017 52 Gun Sweepstakes for a chance to win a gun every single week of 2017.
  6. Those guns add up to more than $30,000 in value.

Donating to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to support conservation is more like making an investment when you can use calendars as a fundraising tool for your own worthy cause, but don’t just take our word for it.

Brad Dutcher

Brad Dutcher

“The USA calendar program has given us the opportunity to speak with our members, not only about conservation and the outdoors, but the issue of responsible gun ownership as a whole,” said UAW Region 4 Assistant Director Brad Dutcher. “With over 2,500 calendars sold last year, we have already seen our share of lucky winners. Our local unions do an excellent job getting these calendars out to their members. Many of those locals use the proceeds for community projects as well as donations to our veteran organizations.”

Based on the request of many unions that participated in the calendar program in the past, we got an early start on the 2017 calendar to give our partners more time to promote calendars to their membership. We have the 2017 USA calendars in hand and ready to ship, so now is the time to pull the trigger and make a donation.

Click here to order your calendar today.

Face-to-Face at Union Conventions

June 15, 2016 in General

In an age when teenagers (and some adults) start and end relationships with a text message, we keep tabs on friends and acquaintances through Facebook and professionals send emails more often than they pick up the phone, there’s a lot to be said for face-to-face communication. That isn’t to deny the importance of emails, text messages and social media or how they have revolutionized communication, but they simply can’t replace meeting and talking in person.

(L-R) USA staff Craig Coffin, Heather Tazelaar and Kevin Grubbs prepare to greet union members at USA’s booth at the 2016 BCTD Conference.

(L-R) USA staff Craig Coffin, Heather Tazelaar and Kevin Grubbs prepare to greet union members at USA’s booth at the 2016 BCTD Conference.

That’s why the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance attends 15-18 union conventions each year, despite a staff of about 15 people who juggle 40-45 USA shoots and dinners annually. Attending conventions provides us with the chance to address large audiences as well as speak one-on-one with union leaders and members about the USA and cultivate relationships that lead to the formation of USA dinner committees, new shooting events and conservation projects.

Attending union conventions also helps us grow our union-dedicated outdoor community because everyone who visits the USA booth and fills out an application, enters our daily door prize or gun drawing, takes a spin on our Spin N’ Win wheel or makes a Gun-A-Week calendar donation receives a complimentary USA membership.

As valuable as union conventions are for growing membership and building relationships, attending can be a challenge when you consider event scheduling, manpower and cost of travel, lodging and booth registration. As a non-profit organization, we strive to be efficient with our budget, so we can bring the greatest value to our members and partners while keeping our conservation mission top priority.  Before attending any convention, we weigh the estimated costs with the potential benefits and consider whether or not there are opportunities to at least cover our costs through fundraisers at the booth and other methods.

Our all-time record for fundraising at a union convention was $15,775 at the 2012 UA convention, and we hope for a repeat performance this year.

How you can help:
If you’re a union leader involved in convention planning and would like the USA to attend, these are a few ways you can help us:

  • Let us know about the convention as far in advance as possible
  • Comp booth space for us in a high traffic location
  • Allow us to fundraise to help cover costs
  • Provide us with a speaking or presentation opportunity
  • Let us know if we can pre-promote our booth and activities
  • Stop by the USA booth – we’d love to talk to you
  • Encourage fellow members to stop by our booth 

    Attending a union convention this year?
    If you’re attending a union convention this year, there are many reasons to stop by the USA booth (if we have one):

  • Learn about USA events and conservation projects
  • Order your USA 2017 Gun-A-Week calendar(s)
  • Learn how the USA can connect you with union brothers and sisters outside the workplace
  • Apply to be a guest on USA’s Brotherhood Outdoors TV show
  • Earn prizes from Buck Knives, Carhartt and other USA partners on our Spin N’ Win wheel
  • Enter to win gear in our Daily Door Prize drawings
  • Enter to win guns, cash or other gear in USA’s 50/50 or gear drawings, while helping us offset the cost of attending the convention

    By all means, post on our Facebook page, chat on our forums, text us your hunting and fishing trophies—we love it all. But we really want to meet and talk to you in person.  Although we can’t make it to every convention, don’t hesitate to invite us. We’d love to see you there!

Former NFL Player, Proud USA Member

June 6, 2016 in Articles, General

Ask what Deion Sanders, Brett Favre, Bo Jackson, Brian Urlacher and Randy Moss have in common, and almost anyone can tell you they are football royalty. What most people don’t know is that they all share a love of the outdoors. Add names like Adam Vinatieri, Joe Thomas, Jared Allen, Trent Cole, Herschel Walker and Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka and that still doesn’t begin to tackle the long list of current and former NFL players who love to hunt, fish, shoot and spend time outdoors.

After years of discussions, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance scored a touchdown in early 2016, welcoming the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) as our newest charter union and opening our doors to the many athletes whose sporting pursuits take them beyond the football field and into the woods and waters we all cherish.

Charter unions provide valuable support and resources to help the USA fulfill its mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.  Through their sponsorship, they also provide their members with the added benefit of a no-cost USA membership.

The USA is proud to already count a number of NFLPA members among its ranks, including Darryl Haley, a former Patriots, Browns and Packers lineman.  Haley had the opportunity to visit national parks as a child through a program for young athletes with good grades, so he knows the importance of getting youth engaged in the outdoors.  In one of his blog posts promoting the Every Kid in a Park initiative, he wrote “it is my personal passion to connect young people with parks.”

It was a shared interest in outdoor access and engaging youth in the outdoors that attracted Haley to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance:

“I joined the USA after meeting some of the members and seeing their efforts to maintain and improve our parks and recreation areas,” Haley said. “As I attended additional events, and met members from around the country, I had great respect for their outreach efforts.  The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance had a sense of teamwork.  This reminded me of playing professional sports, where every team member brings something important to the process of meeting the goals.

Darryl Haley (R) catches up with USA staff members Mike d'Oliveira (C) and Walt Ingram (L) at the USA's Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot

Darryl Haley (R) catches up with USA staff members Mike d’Oliveira (C) and Walt Ingram (L) at the USA’s Capital Area Sporting Clays Shoot

The Capital Area Shoot was an opportunity to meet many members and discuss their plans and programs.  I felt an affinity for their determination and sense of purpose. Not only were they protecting our natural spaces, but they wanted to extend these spaces to those that were unfamiliar with them.  This struck a chord with me because … my first exposure to national parks was as a young boy.  Those experiences clearly stayed with me throughout my life!

Each event attended brought new connections and introduced me to dedicated members with a love for the outdoors and preservation.  I felt these events, while on their own were enjoyable and fun events, offered an ability to interact and share ideas.

The USA’s efforts to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage through hands-on conservation projects and youth events dove-tailed perfectly with my own efforts.  I feel that they demonstrate the power of teamwork and using everyone’s input to reach the goal of protecting and preserving our natural environments and green spaces.  Most importantly, while they are achieving their goals of conserving and improving these environments, the outreach to young people achieves the most important goal – ensuring that the next generation values these natural environments.  Through this awareness and exposure, they will impact young lives and provide a means to keep these programs moving forward for years to come.”

IBEW member and son receive VIP treatment at 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic

April 28, 2016 in General, Press Release

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Celebrity encounters, backstage passes, VIP treatment, exclusive access to the latest and greatest in bass fishing, weigh-in shows that were part-fish competition, part rock concert and a story-book finish made for an unforgettable trip.

Mark Duncan and his 16-year-old son, Patch, experienced the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic unlike any of the other 107,605 attendees at the 3-day event.

Mark, a longtime member of Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and IBEW Local 26 in Lanham, Maryland, won the Ultimate Bass Sweepstakes presented by USA and Carhartt. The prize included an all-expense-paid trip for him and Patch to attend the Bassmaster Classic, complete with VIP treatment and exclusive access.

“I’d watched the Classic on TV in years past, but I’d never seen an event like this before,” Mark said. “The lights, the music, the people there – it was all insane.”

The Duncans witnessed a historical comeback at the Classic. Jason Christie, the two-day leader, started day three six pounds ahead. But the tournament wasn’t over for Edwin Evers, who caught 20 bass that morning, making a last-minute play for the title.

Father and son arrived at the Classic Expo at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on March 4 and met with representatives of USA and Carhartt who served as host for the weekend. They also met legendary angler and TV host Bill Dance before taking a group photo with the Classic’s soon-to-be-awarded trophy.

The Duncans’ Carhartt hosts ushered them around the Expo, taking them backstage with one of the Classic’s producers. They got to see it all, from the press room to the hole in the stage where the fish are dropped into a livewell that takes them back to the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

“We got our pictures taken on stage, saw where they weigh the fish and how the boats and trucks get in and out,” Mark said. “It was an incredible experience getting to see every part of the show.”

Both Mark and Patch’s favorite moment came during the last day. More than anything, Patch wanted to meet Kevin VanDam, the all-time money winner in professional bass fishing and his idol. The Duncans were sitting in Carhartt’s sponsor room, and Patch knew his chances were growing slim. Then, VanDam walked into the room. They got a photo with the legend – a moment both father and son will cherish for a lifetime.

“It was my favorite part because it was what [Patch] had wanted all weekend,” Mark said. “My son got to meet his idol. Just goes to show that the decision I made to become a union member almost 30 years ago is still paying dividends today.”

It was a sweet end to the Duncan’s trip. Back home, the experience continued to pay off, helping kick start a project. Before the trip, Mark and Patch had talked about converting their john boat into a “poor man’s bass boat.” The Classic gave them some ideas and resources, along with a little inspiration, and their project is now underway.

The trip also provided Mark with another opportunity to speak highly of his membership to both his union and the USA.

“Here is a situation in which I now get to discuss my union and why I’m a member of the USA with other people,” Duncan said. “All I have to do is mention the trip and they ask, ‘How did you win that?’”

It was the final weigh-in, and Evers stood in his boat as it was pulled into the Expo. “Dynamite” by Taeo Cruz blared over the speakers as Evers reached into his live well and pulled out his two biggest fish for the crowd to see.

His bag was taken to the stage for weighing. “Look at these big freaks of nature,” host Dave Mercer said of Evers fish, announcing he needed a 15 pound, 2 ounce bag to pull ahead.

“29 pounds, 3 ounces!” Mercer announced as the crowd erupted.

The Duncans cheered from the VIP sponsor suite as confetti rained down on the arena. “We are the Champions” blared through the speakers and Evers was crowned the 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion.

It was the perfect finale to the Duncan’s storybook experience, all thanks to Carhartt.

“We are grateful to Carhartt for their excellence, not only in their products, but in the way they serve others,” said USA Deputy Director Mike d’Oliveira.  “This trip is a perfect example of how Carhartt goes above and beyond to support and celebrate our members.”