Paul Ryan is not only a dedicated hunter, gun owner and shooter, but he is also a long-standing leader of the pro-hunting leadership in Congress. By Patrick O‚ÄôMalley For those of us who call North America home, we‚Äôve finally turned the corner on the calendar.¬†¬† The heat of summer is fading, and dove seasons are in full swing.¬† Crisp, cool air is wafting in on north winds and big game seasons are beckoning. As we finalize our hunting calendars for the 2012 North American seasons, we must pay close attention to one date in particular. Tuesday, November 6, is a day that must find us close to home so each of us can cast an informed ballot for the candidates who will protect hunting. And if your calendar finds you far afield on that day, now is the time to contact your local registrar about applying to cast your ballot absentee.¬† Deadlines and regulations vary from state to state, but a quick search of the website operated by your state‚Äôs Secretary of State should yield speedy answers to any questions you may have. And if some happenstance has rendered your voter registration invalid (like simply moving to a new home, even if nearby) that means you have about two weeks left before the deadline in most states to make sure you are properly registered at the correct address for your local voting precinct. Mitt Romney‚Äôs selection of Paul Ryan for Vice President has brought a new focus to the stakes of the race for hunters.¬† Paul Ryan is not only a dedicated hunter, gun owner and shooter, but he is also a long-standing leader of the pro-hunting leadership in Congress.¬† Ryan is well known to the SCI leadership who participate in our Annual Lobby Day. Ryan is also the former co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen‚Äôs Caucus (CSC). ¬†In this capacity, Rep. Ryan provided steady leadership in Congress on issues of concern to hunters, gun owners, shooters.¬† And that shows in his voting record on issues of concern to SCI. Among the highlights of his record in Congress, Rep. Ryan led his colleagues to defeat all of the recent efforts to limit various seasons, specific species, and traditional methods of the hunt.¬† He has led the charge to pass many of SCI‚Äôs signature legislative goals, including successful legislation that changed the Pittman-Robertson excise tax payment schedule to remedy inequities and protect conservation funding.¬† He has spearheaded the charge to protect the right of hunters to use traditional ammunition, and played a key role in passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, blocking baseless lawsuits that blamed manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse of firearms in an effort to bankrupt the gun industry and destroy the Second Amendment. And those of us who bear arms for self-defense in addition to hunting will be pleased to learn he supported national ‚Äúright to carry‚Äù legislation, which would allow law abiding Americans to defend themselves when traveling away from their home state. Ours is not a partisan cause, but it is undeniable that the Ryan record stands in stark contrast to that of the Obama administration. ¬†In the wake of shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, the Obama White House restated its support for a ban on semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. ¬†And if re-elected, Obama would have the political freedom to push the rest of the pent-up anti-gun, anti-hunting agenda, such as the drive to ban online ammo sales, restrict magazine capacity and limit hunting and shooting on federal lands. Some may question the ability of the Vice President in any given Administration to shape key policies, but Presidents often defer to their Vice Presidents on specific issues where the Vice President has deep knowledge and interest.¬† It was never a secret that Vice President Dick Cheney was more avid a hunter than President George W. Bush.¬† As a result, his policy team took the lead on many issues of concern to gun owners and hunters.¬† The Vice President works from an office in the West Wing just like the rest of the President‚Äôs senior advisers, so he‚Äôs never far from the action, and in a Romney presidency, Ryan would also naturally fall into the role of top liaison between the White House and Congress. The selection of Paul Ryan for Vice President means that our November ballot has become a mechanism to put a dedicated and passionate hunter in the White House.¬†¬†¬† Further down the ballot, the trustees of your SCI Political Action Committee (SCI-PAC) are also hard at work, trying to elect as many friends of hunting as possible to the House and Senate.¬†¬†¬† Your active support of SCI-PAC, and the informed ballot you cast on Election Day (or by absentee before, if your hunting schedule so dictates) are both critically necessary to the success that hunters will see in the future.¬† Elections matter, and this one now matters even more for hunters and SCI members.