Following the unfortunate events surrounding Cecil the Lion, copious amounts of anti-hunting groups quickly tried to capitalize on the emotions of non-hunters. The scientist that discovered that Cecil was dead had been studying Cecil for 9 years and opposes calls for a ban on hunting (watch the video here). Not surprisingly, however, the Oregonian published an opinion article by Rene Tatro, a lawyer for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), calling for a ban on all “big game trophy hunting“. You may recall, I’ve written about Rene previously. Back in July of 2014 the Oregonian published another opinion piece of his calling for a ban on traditional ammunition.
Oregon Wader Manufacturer Shocks Hunters & Anglers
While working to combat the constant attacks due to Cecil’s death, we discovered that USIA, an Oregon-based company that manufactures waders targeted to hunters and anglers, had published an article titled No More Trophy Hunts. On August 5th, we broke the news to Oregon hunters and anglers and they (rightly) called for USIA to reconsider their actions or lose their business.
We reached out to USIA and asked to discuss the article. At first, USIA was silent. On the evening of August 6th, comments were disabled on the article. Then on August 7th, USIA President Kim “Capt. KUJO” Johns responded.
Interview with USIA President, Kim “Capt. KUJO” Johns
Dominic: The recent article published on the USIA blog, No More Trophy Hunts, called for an end to all trophy hunting. It also stated that those engaged in trophy hunting must be compensating for some “shortcomings” (hinting specifically towards male virility). Many of your customers thought you supported their lifestyle. Why did USIA publish the article?
KUJO: First thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions.
Let me start by addressing the employee who wrote the piece. I will refer to him as the “author” as he does have a right to privacy. I have known the author for nearly 20 years. I have contracted with him over the years to produce videos and some graphic designing for USIA. An opportunity came available where I thought USIA should have a full-time person writing (blogging), maintaining our website and social media. He was a great fit for me. He knows me, knows my adventures, produced my “Black Rocket Charters” media, a great asset for the company. He got a supreme a$$ [sic] chewing, but I’m not going to fire him after making a mistake and owning that mistake fully.
Since this episode, I sat down with him and bluntly asked WTF were you thinking? His response was “I messed up”.
The article was a personal emotional response to a current story about an illegal (still don’t know if the dentist knew) lion hunt. I personally believed he paid $50K and thought he had legitimate guides directing him. It doesn’t look like they were. The author was referring to possible shortcomings of the dentist who shot the lion and others who poach illegally. The author did not mean to impugn legal hunters.
Dominic: The article argued, incorrectly, that predators help prey populations. There are numerous studies available providing evidence that predators can negatively impact prey populations. Many sportsmen would point to Oregon’s overpopulation of cougar or seal lions as a prime example. Do you support balanced predator management such as wolves, cougars, sea lions, cormorants, etc.?
KUJO: The author believes taking the largest lions at their prime illegally is wrong. If it’s legal, that’s another matter. The author was not talking about domestic [USA] cougar, wolves, sea lions or any other animals that need management. In fact, the article states specifically that killing “problematic” animals is a necessity.
Although there is not a reason for USIA as a company to take an official position, I personally support balanced predator management. If fact, I have in the past been part of a USFW/USGS program to take out seagulls with .22’s on the Columbia River near Astoria by training boat operator from a college work study program at Oregon State University dealing with “species preservation.”
Dominic: Do you consider yourself a sportsman? If so, what activities do you regularly enjoy?
KUJO: Yes, I took trophy ling cod back in the day (45 to 60 lbs range in late 70’s and 80’s). I did use the meat but those big ling are breeders and don’t taste nearly as good as the smaller fish in the 15 to 20 lbs range. I personally don’t shoot big fish anymore but do still spearfish and don’t demonize those who are new to the sport and wish to hunt trophies underwater. It’s legal.
Dominic: Do you understand why Oregon sportsmen and women are upset? If so, do you regret what happen?
KUJO: I hunt and fish, how hypocritical is that. I fully regret the publishing of the article.
Dominic: Something that we only discovered after the trophy hunting article surfaced was that USIA has either done business with or supports an organization that many consider a terrorist organization, The Sea Shepard. Is this true? If so, do you support their goal of eliminating all animal deaths?
KUJO: My history with Sea Shepherds started at a dive show in Seattle Washington a few years back. One of their employees at their booth (which was next to mine) was a retired special agent in charge of the criminal division of the EPA in Seattle. He’s a nice guy and passionate about the whale thing. I met his wife and daughter. His 16-year-old daughter was going to Antarctica on an anti-whaling campaign and he asked me to build her a surface suit to protect her. I did that for him. [This was verified by OOC through a former USIA employee.] She wore it and posted a picture and a thank you.(http://eloramalama.com/2012/11/04/thank-you-usia/)
The next thing I know I’m being labeled as an “eco-terrorist” Ha! Really, me? I’ve been laughing ever since.
I then got the opportunity from the Discovery Channel (Animal Planet) to replace all the surface dry suits on the TV show “Whale Wars”, with the same dry suit.I’m not a supporter of what and how they do it. But putting the USIA label in front of 6 million viewers along with mustang, and zodiac was a sound business decision.In March 0f 2015 I took two 110 foot former Coast Guard fast patrol boats Sea Shepherds purchased, from Annapolis MD to Key West Florida. Was it because I support them? No, it was because I saw I once in a lifetime opportunity to Command an 110 foot Fast Patrol Cutter down the east coast, around Cape Hatteras, through the Bermuda Triangle and through the Straights of Florida.
That’s me at the helm! When I got there almost every one of those vegans hated me. Mostly for smuggling beef jerky and pepperoni aboard for the 88-hour trip. So do I support them? I wouldn’t call it support. Would I sell them dry suits? Absolutely.
Do I support their goal of eliminating all animal deaths?
Not just no…but HELL NO!
Dominic: Are you willing to make a commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with sportsmen and women of Oregon and to partner with pro-sportsmen groups to further support our lifestyle?
KUJO: Of course I am!
Dominic: Finally, sportsmen are often skeptical because our lifestyle is under constant attack. How can those that are skeptical of your explanation verify that you’re committed to supporting our lifestyle?
KUJO: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Please, just take a look or subscribe to the CAPTKUJO channel on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/
We would like to thank USIA and Kim “Capt KUJO” Johns for taking the time to discuss this issue with us. We (and hopefully all Oregon sportsmen and women) appreciate his apology. You can learn more about USIA’s waders at http://www.shopusia.com/waders/.
Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping!