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Noem: Hunting and Guns Fundamental to South Dakota’s Culture and Success

I’m not sure KSFY’s transcript is complete, but in her State of the State speech yesterday, Governor Kristi Noem appears not to have mentioned civics education, one of the hallmarks of her failed inaugural agenda. When it comes to fiddling with the curriculum, Noem now appears to think it’s more important to teach kids how to handle guns:

On a related note, in 2019, Game, Fish, and Parks began a pilot HuntSAFE program in schools across the state. The goal of the course is to teach students the responsible and safe handling of firearms as well as the values that come from being a true sportsman – values that should never be lost. We have 32 schools that are now certified to teach the program, up from just 8 schools in 2018. I’d love to see every school offer this program [Gov. Kristi Noem, State of the State Address, as published by KSFY, 2020.01.14].

The Governor does not appear to be saying she wants to require GF&P’s gun safety and hunting curriculum for graduation, thank goodness. But she continues to overblow the centrality of killing critters to our identity and prosperity:

Trapper Kristi Noem
Trapper Noem, still at it….

I’m also pleased to announce that the bounty program we launched last year has been a success in more ways than one. Game, Fish, and Parks recently conducted a survey on South Dakotan’s perceptions* of the bounty program and the results were overwhelmingly positive. We’re getting more people involved in trapping and the outdoors. Hunting, trapping, and shooting are great American traditions, fundamental to the culture and success of our state. These traditions help kids develop respect for nature, for property rights, as well as for other people.

You know, Greta Thunberg seems to have developed a deep commitment to nature in South Dakota and across the globe, and as far as I know, she didn’t grow up hunting, trapping, or shooting. And shooting, hunting, and especially trapping are marginal activities: hunting participation has declined from a peak of 7.3% of the U.S. population in 1982 to less than 4% of the population in 2016, yet our economy has grown over the last forty years. The young people Governor Noem says she wants to keep in South Dakota are turning away from hunting and pursuing other outdoor interests. Young South Dakotans move to places like Minneapolis and Chicago not because they are looking for more chances to skin possum and gut pheasant but because they recognize there’s a lot more to a rich culture and successful economy than those activities. Expats can still still jet back to South Dakota for a weekend of shooting and carousing, then go back to Minneapolis or Denver for 363 days a year of job opportunities, big-league sporting events, concerts, bike trails, downtown shopping, and all the other culture and success they can enjoy in communities not built on illusions of frontier reënactment.

I welcome our public schools to teach kids about the rich variety of outdoor activities that students can enjoy throughout their lifetimes. But wielding guns and killing critters is not the only way to teach true sportspersonship and love of the outdoors. Such specific recreational activities are certainly not central to a complete education, good values, or economic success. Toward those ends, a real focus on serious civics education would be far more productive.

*Note that Governor Noem highlights perceptions of the her varmint bounty program. Percceptions are all she has to tout, because her program failed in its stated purpose of getting more young people to hunt and fish, failed in its stated purpose of increasing the pheasant count, and failed to offer any counterevidence to the conclusion of multiple scientific sources and our own GF&P experts that trapping raccoons, opossums, skunks, and other little predators cannot have any measurable impact on pheasant populations. A focus on perceptions fanned by the ceaseless flow of bushwah from Noem’s mouth is all Snow Queen Noem has left.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-01-15 09:02

    There’s a certain lack of understanding that goes along with Noem’s elevation of gun culture and hunting from hobbies to “values that should never be lost.” I grew up in South Dakota. Like a lot of boys of that era, I went hunting. I shot a gun. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, and quickly lost interest. I don’t feel I lost any values as a result.

    Back then there was a lot of road hunting. It was easy, because as kids we didn’t want to go ask some farmer whether we could tromp around in his corn field. That “value” of free and independent road hunting has been pretty much extinguished, hasn’t it? Landowners didn’t like urban kids with guns out in the country, and successfully lobbied away that “value.”

    Back then girls were not included in hunting. I suppose some did try to shoot guns, but it was quite uncommon to see a girl or woman out hunting. I never saw it. My mom did ride along when we were road hunting. She didn’t hunt, so much as spot pheasants. I guess that’s hunting, but she never shot. If we hit something, she would put her farm background to work, cleaning the bird and cooking it. My dad wasn’t big on either of those activities. Now, girls and women are encouraged to hunt. We “lost the value” of the all-male hunting party, though if you actually do go hunting, it’s still mostly male.

    Then there are all the pheasant farms, where no one without money can hunt tame birds. What “values” do we learn from these outfits?

    So, what is Noem talking about? Can something be a “value” if only a small sliver of the people engage in it? Doesn’t that make it a hobby or a recreational activity, sort of like what I gravitated to, bird watching and hiking? I guess you learn lessons from stamp collecting, but does it impart “values.” Just because Noem likes something, or, at least uses it as a female politician to ingratiate herself with the still largely male hunting voting block, does not make something a “value.”

  2. o 2020-01-15 10:47

    This makes me remember that gun safety, especially surrounding hunting, used to be the advocacy of the NRA. They would sponsor events to stress responsible gun handling and ownership. Now they spend their time and resources advocating an absolutist radical agenda that puts safety aside for individual ownership rights.

  3. Aaron 2020-01-15 10:54

    If she wants to develop a “respect for nature”, she could do something about the cafo’s turning the lakes to green sludge.

  4. mike from iowa 2020-01-15 15:42

    Noem does like any other wingnut with their tail in a crack….she moves the goalpost to make it appear she did something that worked.

  5. Debbo 2020-01-15 16:25

    That’s an excellent point about Klueless Kristi’s “perception” comment. It seems she’s all about appearances.

    There’s nothing wrong with hunting and sensible gun laws. I especially favor a rigorous course of gun safety instruction. There are way too many deaths of children due to stupid, careless adults leaving loaded guns lying around.

    KK ought to add a program like Minnesota’s “No Child Left Inside.” There’s state and private $ behind it to get all children, especially those least likely, outside to hunt, fish, bird watch, hike, mountain bike, snow shoe, etc. in nearby parks and rec areas. Being in nature is a proven plus for mental health with a strong calming effect. Children involved love it!

  6. leslie 2020-01-15 19:50

    Concealed weapons in the Capital. This is where it leads.

    The NRA is dying as is the Republican party. The gun show loophole closing is reasonable regulation when Everything is a 5 alarm fire for the GOP.

    Between the lines conservative blogger MacIntyre is backing off her Republican Fanaticism because one can’t really defend Trump’s idiocy. “I’m sick of politics for the most part. There’s nothing Trump can do right and the Democrats are hell bent on getting him for something….yes, sometimes it [trump’s tweeting policy] comes across as petty and a bit below the dignity of the office of the President.” PITBULL BLOG.

    Understated, yes, but from a hardcore Repub…truth is welcome.

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