If Hillary, Bernie or Donald wants your vote, the candidates better pay attention to the great outdoors. A recent poll indicates that candidates who ignore hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts do so at their own risk.

Southwick Associates, a Florida-based research firm with a specialty in outdoor topics, recently surveyed men and women who fish and hunt and found a high percentage who plan to vote.

Up to 92 percent of anglers and 94 percent of the hunters said they plan to vote in November. Up to 72 percent of the anglers said a presidential candidate’s position on issues related to sports fishing was important to them and would impact their choice.

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For both anglers and hunters, a candidate’s stance on gun and hunting issues were critical. Nearly 96 percent said a candidate’s positions on those topics would affect their voting decision.

With nearly 14 million hunters, over 20 million recreational shooters and more than 33 million anglers, that is a lot of votes.

“Hunting, sport shooting and recreational fishing are activities that participants are most often extremely passionate about; so much so that it has a direct impact on how they vote,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates.

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“Few sportsmen are willing to support a candidate who doesn’t support positions that are friendly to hunting, shooting and fishing, regardless of where they may stand on other issues.”

Whether a candidate actually hunts or fishes was important to respondents. Hunters and shooters in particular wanted a candidate who was “one of them.” Candidates who not only support sporting issues, but also understand them first hand through their own participation would have an advantage of winning over hunter and angler support.

None of the current presidential candidates are known to fish or hunt, although Donald Trump’s sons are avid hunters, and Trump – an NRA member –says he owns a handgun and has a concealed weapon permit.

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Trump was asked by Field & Stream magazine whether – if elected – he would go hunting with his sons, and his reply was “yes, I would do that. I’ve done it before, but I’d love to do that.”

“I think we’d keep it to the upland-type birds. You know, that’s how I’ve introduced anyone that I’ve ever introduced to hunting,” he went on. “And I’ve taken some of these people that are city people, and just take them on a walk-up — go shoot some clays, and then take them on a walk-up. And not one of those people has ever turned to me and [not] said, “You know, that was one of the greatest weekends I’ve ever had in my life.”

Being elected president is not the best path to expanding your hunting horizons. Presidents are strongly discouraged from the activity, particularly since Vice President Dick Cheney shot and wounded his hunting partner while quail hunting in Texas in 2006.

Jimmy Carter was the last president to be widely known as an avid outdoorsman, and was elected to the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Hall of Fame. Carter fought with the Secret Service over their objections to his continuing to quail hunt in Georgia, and one of his best known quotes was: “Life is too short to go quail hunting with the wrong people.”

Dick Cheney’s hunting buddy would agree.

Photo credit: Wikicommons