(Columbus, OH) – The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) awarded one of its highest honors on two longtime sportsmen’s advocates. The honor—the Patriot Award—is awarded to people who have contributed throughout their lives to the protection and advancement of sportsmen’s rights. The recipients were recognized before 1,000 of their fellow hunters, anglers and trappers at the 16th annual U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance “Save Our Heritage” Rally in Columbus, Ohio.

The first honoree, Michael J. Budzik, is a former Chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. During his tenure, the state opened up hunting on Sundays and defeated a ballot issue to ban mourning dove hunting. Since his retirement, Mike has volunteered for USSA and many candidates for office that support the right to hunt, fish and trap. He has been instrumental in fostering dialogue with governors, senators and candidates for the White House.

The second recipient was Congressman Bob Latta. Latta, who currently represents Northwest Ohio’s 5th district in Washington, has a 100% pro-sportsmen voting record in Congress, and when he previously served in Ohio’s Senate and House of Representatives. Bob has been instrumental in protecting hunting license dollars from being used to bail out budget deficits, and most recently voted to protect, and open, federal lands to hunting access. Impervious to the partisanship that paralyzes Washington D.C., when it comes to sportsmen’s rights, Latta has never wavered.

“The Patriot Award is not awarded every year,” explained USSA President and CEO Bud Pidgeon. “It is reserved for only those few who have gone far beyond the call of duty in defense of our great outdoor heritage. We are thrilled to give the award to Mike and Bob, and look forward to our work with them on behalf of sportsmen.”