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Prairie_Scouter

Hunting - What's the attraction?

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I love to hunt, mostly upland game and waterfowl. I don't care much for big game hunting, but I can understand how some would enjoy it.

 

If you city boys have ever come across animals that have frozen or starved to death you could certainly understand why we need to have hunters. If you have driven on rural highways and seen the number of deer that have committed suicide against the grille of a vehicle, you would beg for hunting to be required. If you raised grain for a living and herds of deer devastated your crops, you would vote for any sort of hunting that would cull the herd.

 

Hunters do more to protect the flocks and herds than their well-meaning yet sqeamish friends that take photos and leave the animals to starve.

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Torveaux, maybe we shold pay hunters to shoot our starving hordes from sub-sahara Africa or right here in our cities. Hate to see them suffer by starving.

 

I have nothing against hunters or campers except for those who don't abide by the "rules." Ever field dress a deer in mid-November? The human may only take the "good eating" stuff but nothing else goes to waste.

 

Man is omniverous (most of us). We eat meat. Thank goodness fish can't scream!

 

I don't think the vast majority of hunters hunt to stretch the food budget. If you look at what they pay (guns, ammo, clothes, travel, processing, etc.) venison comes out to roughly $20/lb!

 

Myself, living in Michigan which has a high percentage of hunters per populace, I like to eat what other kill but don't have the time, patience or desire to hunt.

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The attraction:

 

Food for the family. There ARE people who hunt out of need. Just because you don't know any, doesn't mean they don't exist.

 

People connect with the outdoors in different ways. This is one.

 

A family tradition. I know of 3 generations w/in a family that hunt together, and I'm not referring to the Beverly Hillbillies.

 

A tradition among friends.

 

A work/business relationship type activity -- like playing golf with a client.

 

The personal challenge. I knew a man at work who would load his horse trailer, drive to a neighboring state and pack in. He said he would have a base camp but if he was trailing an elk or a herd, he would just sleep where he was when it got dark. He had been doing this for years, he was in his late 50's at the time.

 

Get away from family/work/other.

 

Get away with your wife and do something you both enjoy.

 

Introduce your son or daughter to something you like that you think they may like too.

 

C'mon guys, put your reasons up on the board, I know I didn't cover them all.

 

 

 

 

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Her That Must Be Obeyed tells me that I'm a big woozy.

I don't own a gun, I think the likelihood of me ever owning one is zero. As far as I know other than a groundhog which I ran over with my car I have never killed anything (Not counting flies and bugs)

Of course being a Brit. I wasn't raised around guns and hunting.

Having said all that I have a good many friends who live to hunt. These guys are really into it. Some will fly from PA TO Texas to go on a turkey hunt.

They are big time supporters of Ducks Unlimited and the Wild Turkey Federation, supporting these organizations with fairly large donations and working on conservation and habitat projects.

For a good number of years I held a Wild Game Dinner and the money raised went to help local youth groups (Not just Boy Scouts)

Many have really outstanding dogs who are so well trained that they make Rory seem dumb. In fact I'm thinking of sending him to be trained, but it's $900.00 and he isn't ever going to be a real gun dog -He does really well with a tennis ball and does when he feels like it obey most basic commands.

I know Lads who couldn't wait till they were old enough to go hunting with their Dad.They were so proud when they got their first deer. For a while I admit that I thought I was short changing OJ; He was never going to get to go with his Dad. Of course there was no shortage of people willing to take him. But he never took the Safe Hunters course.

We have two sets of three Deer that Rory and I have been keeping an eye on when we go for our walks. They seemed to have out foxed the hunters so far.

Talking about Foxes, I always thought that I'd look good on a fine horse with that red jacket yelling "Tally ho" But maybe I'd be more at home at the Hunt Ball?

Eamonn.

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Sorry to have started a thread and not participated to now. Been out car shopping for a couple of days.

 

Lots of good thoughts.

 

I agree that it's a great way to get outdoors and do things with friends and family. I just wonder why animals have to die as a result.

 

Now I would question the assertion by Torveaux that hunters are doing wildlife some sort of service while, say, "squeamish photographers" are doing nothing. As I hypothesized in my original post, I wonder if hunters are really interested in hunting animals that are starving and freezing to death, as Torveaux seems to be saying. It seems that they're more likely to be looking for the biggest and best for their trophies. Does an atrophied, dying animal make good eating? My guess would be no. So, at least for some, hunting is removing from the population exactly those animals that should remain in the population to strengthen the herd. Are there hunters who's job it is specifically to thin the herd and remove the weakest members? I'm sure there are, and they do provide an extremely necessary service that used to be provided by the natural predators of whatever prey species is being discussed.

 

At the professional end, photographers document the natural world. They bring to light issues that need to be addressed in a fashion that is difficult to dispute. They serve the natural world by providing some measure of protection by bringing the public images of issues that need addressing, hopefully ending with some sort of protection or correction being provided. Further down the "photography foodchain", photographers of all sorts bring to their family and friends images of wildlife that they might not otherwise see. I don't have many friends who want to join me sitting in a blind for hours on end on a cold and snowy day while I shoot pictures, or track some animal through the woods. I don't think that there's anything particularly "squeamish" about it, just as I don't think that there's anything particularly "manly" about going out and killing animals at long range with high powered rifles. I like to think that my pictures might make someone think twice about the value of going out and shooting that same animal.

 

Really, it's not a sport like any other, as some would like us to think. Nobody dies (well, hardly ever) watching a football game with friends a family.

 

DanKroh,

Regards whether I think meat taken in a hunt is somehow "tainted" compared to grocery bought foods....

No, not the way I think. There is a natural circle of life. Our use of beef as a food source is just one part of that circle. Hunters are certainly another. I've eaten bison, and I like it a lot. So, I know how the food chain works. (Although with their high powered weapons, most hunters, and most of us, would be easy picken's for many of the predators out there...:)). And I don't begrudge any subsistence hunters or those hunters who actually eat what they hunt. It's a perfectly legal activity and the animal is at least being used in what I'd hope is a respectful manner.

 

My question, I guess, is why there are people who make entertainment out of ending the life of an animal. Yes, there are those who are doing it to provide food for their families and for us, the general public. And yes, there are those who hunt to legitimately cull herds of their weakest members. We as human beings have a responsibility to do this now that we've eliminated that natural predators.

 

I suppose, like with any activity, there are subgroups. There are hunters who hunt to feed their families. There are those who hunt to cull the herds of their weakest members. And there are those who see killing an animal as just entertainment on a Saturday afternoon. It's this last group that I think make a sad commentary on who we are, most likely the only species, or at least one of very few, that kill just for the sheer fun of it.

 

 

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This thread reminds me of an initiative that the animal rights types got placed on the Washington State ballot a few years ago. The initiative would prohibit hunters from using dogs to track mountain lions. Well, that didn't sound sporting, and the initiative was passed.

 

Within a couple of years, there were increasing complaints about mountain lions extending their range into suburban communities and taking dogs and cats. After the first child was attacked, the state legislature repealed that law.

 

Now the mountain lions usually stay in wild country, and dogs, cats and children are safe for the most part.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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"... there were increasing complaints about mountain lions extending their range into suburban communities ..."

 

I know that in this part of the country, mountain lions do not extend their range. Rather, human extend their range. In places where lions are "managed", I have to wonder whether the deer also need to be "managed".

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Prarie,

 

Your concern about those that make 'entertainment' about ending the life of an animal is valid, however, I submit that the vast majority of hunters don't feel that way, and are very honorable and respectful of the sport.

 

As I've seen in many areas, its that 1/10 of one percent of the group that ruins things for the rest of us. You seem to be focusing mainly on that very small minority, and painting the canvas with much too large a brush, if you know what I mean.

 

You might equate this to people claiming the entire Scouting organization is bad because we have one person out of many thousands of volunteers who gets arrested for indecent material on his pc.

 

And btw - I am not a hunter.. the only thing I hunt for is the remote!

 

:-)

 

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the desire to hunt or not to hunt is a viseral deep rooted emotion I find akin as to why some one would love the World Series Champion White Sox and others the crummy loser cubs.

 

 

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Prairie,

 

I don't know if you are being deliberately coy or if you simply do not understand the dynamics of life in the wild. Let me try to explain.

 

I hunt pheasants, ducks and geese. Like most of my fellow hunters, I am lucky to get shots at 'a' bird, much less a 'trophy'. However, I understand that the big game types tend toward the larger males with showy antlers, horns, jaws, etc. (depending upon what species they are hunting)

 

Now, a certain acre of land can support a certain number of any given species. Anything in excess of that will reduce the amount of safe cover or fodder for the animals. If there is not enough food and cover, the animals freeze to death or starve to death. One often leads to the other. Animals with low food intake freeze more easily. Mother nature does not care much about big racks and such. Often the 'smarter' animals are not those who are genetically larger or chronoligically older (those who tend to be bigger). Shooting the 'trophy' may or may not be the worst thing for the herd. The larger animals generally need more food, so shooting a 'trophy' could be better for the herd in the cases when food is scarce. Again, whether hunters shoot the strong or the weak does not really make the largest difference. The number per acre make the most difference.

 

You may or may not be aware that hunting seasons tend to be in the Fall and early Winter months, long before the period wherein animals have starved, frozen or would be emaciated. By reducing the herds and flocks before Winter sets in, the starvation is prevented. Which animals are killed means much less than keeping numbers in check. Also, the license fees and (for many hunters) association dues (Ducks Unlimited, etc.) go to pay for the maintenance and improvement of the habitats favored by the animals.

 

I am sure there are exceptions, but I don't know any hunters that kill for trophies that do not also process and consume the animal. While you can make the high-end case for expensive guns and equipment raising the cost. However, you must average that with the people that hunt for food. They do not have fancy new guns. They often have family heirlooms that have been through 3 or 4 generations. Many of them load their own rounds further reducing costs. They also butcher their own animals. The most expensive part is the license for these types of families.

 

I would invite you out to ride with Game and Fish Wardens in the winter to take your photos of the dead and dying animals. Overpopulation kills more animals than hunters. By portraying the animals in an unrealistic light, you could be doing more harm than good. Shooting is much more humane than starvation.

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"Overpopulation kills more animals than hunters."

 

Animals do not naturally overpopulate themselves, leading to freezing and starvation. The almighty all-knowing human species fiddles with mother nature to make "improvements." The unintended results lead to more fiddling. If humans would quit meddling so much, there would be fewer problems to fix. Mother Nature has been doing quite well for 38 billion years and doesn't need any help from well-intentioned but mis-guided humans.

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how about a what if?

 

Man is a part of the world, man is not made but born just as all mamals, perhaps the "natural" order of things is to have man become the primary predator. Perhaps in time man will lose his status as the prime predator, what do we know about what is natural when we live in nature?

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Quibble all you like FScouter. But when mountain lions were found to be stalking young children in their own neighborhoods, hunters were once again invited to use dogs to track them down while hunting. Only infrequent sightings of mountain lions in built up areas since that change occurred.

 

 

I suppose the entire city of Seattle and all it's suburbs were once mountain lion habitat. Perhaps you think that mountain lions should be free to stalk children but the legislators of Washington State don't agree.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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Well, since the college football season is almost over and ESPN has on collge basketball (I could ask where is the attraction to that) I am watching ESPN2's coverage of the Bassmasters. How does fishing figure in? Creatures die, children are encouraged to participate, is this the same as hunting?

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The story of the Bison "hunters" trying to use their bows and arrows on full grown adult bison reminds me of one of my previous boss' decision to hunt black bear with a long bow (he owned a fishing/hunting camp in Maine - where people came from all over the country to pay for the privelege of hunting/fishing in the Maine woods). He practiced all summer - on his first day out, a black bear passed his stand - he shot the bear but the arrow just bounced off. Problem - the bear was between him and his truck - and she was not a happy bear at this point. She kept him tree'd for 5 hours before she got hungry (presumably) and wandered away.

 

There is a reason that the first americans tended to hunt bison by driving them off cliffs - those paintings of native americans on horseback hunting bison with bows/arrows come mainly from the imagination of the artists. Bison have a very think hide - even modern bows, with their technological edge, aren't a match for bison.

 

When I was a young lad, I used to hunt pheasant with my father and uncles - they were quite challenging to hit - I didn't actually shoot my first pheasant until my 5th time out - which taught me a great deal about patience and handling frustration. I've since learned that pheasants, which were originally imported from Asia, are a prime reason for the decline of our native fowl - the Prairie Chicken - in the US. Since I'd much rather see a strong population of native species, I'm ready to take up pheasant hunting again. Besides, prepared correctly, pheasant is delicious.

 

I've gone goose hunting in the Horicon Marsh area of Wisconsin - I've taken one goose home in the 6 years I went hunting up there. I'll lead Audubon Society field trips up there during hunting season and have been known to take the group to watch hunters try to shoot geese from the sky - usually because someone says its a real shame that people are hunting the geese - to this day, we have yet to see a hunter successfully take down a goose - then I take the group to the National Wildlife Refuge and explain that the refuge and its maintenance is largely paid for by hunters through the sales of duck stamps and when birders are willing to start paying for annual binocular stamps to help fund refuges, then we'll be able to complain about goose hunting. It never fails, though, that later that winter and the next spring, the people complaining the loudest about the goose hunting are also the people who complain the loudest about goose poop in their parks and lawns because of the increased population of year-round geese in the Chicago area (when you turn your suburban corporate business parks into a replica of the tundra/taiga - the natural habitat of Canada Geese, you get geese staying).

 

I've never been deer hunting but never passed up a gift of venison from a deer hunting friend (who often got a gift of pheasant from me in return). I went to college in rural Maine and it was common to drive onto campus (I lived off campus) on a Monday during deer season and see two or three deer hanging from a dorm room window. Heck, my college's information booklet for prospective students listed as an amenity an on campus game cleaning station - and our security office had gun safes so that students could store their guns and bows/arrows on campus (and they still do - hunting is still a tradition at my alma mater).

 

Yes, some hunters are selective about which animals they will shoot - only selecting the trophies - but this is not a bad thing. It's a myth that the trophies are the key to survival anyway. Hunting season for most large animals takes place after rutting season (aka mating season)- chances are that this years trophies won't be the best choice for mating the next year.

 

Prior to the euro-american settlement of the country, there were more natural predators of the animals we hunt in the wild. The animals most likely killed in the fall by the predators are what we now call the Trophy Animals. Why? Because after rutting season, they were the most successful at fighting to mate with the females, and, having expended most of their energy fighting and mating (usually not taking in much food during this time either), they were also exhausted and thus tended to be weaker than the animals that were not successful - and the predators go after the weak and tired.

 

Since we have removed most of the predators from the wild, its my opinion that its our moral obligation to replace them in the wild. The fact is that animals will overpopulate if the checks and balances provided by predators is not available. Overpopulation then destroys the balance of the ecosystem and eventually leads to death by disease and starvation, as well as long-term damage to an ecosystem that takes years to recover from.

 

I'm practicing with a bow this winter with plans to go turkey hunting in the spring. One reason I plan to hunt is because I feel its my obligation to help maintain a balance for a healthy ecosystem (I saw a flock of approximately 60 wild turkey in a farm field in Kentucky recently - thats way to many turkey for one small area). I also plan to prove to some friends who insist that I must wear full camoflage if I'm going to be successful at getting a turkey that its not the clothes but the knowledge of ones prey and patience that will earn me a turkey by hunting in blue jeans and a sweatshirt. There is also a certain satisfaction in eating meat one has hunted for oneself - its not so distanced as it is when one just buys their food in the store with no thought of where it comes from. I know I shouldn't be by this time but it still never ceases to amaze me that suburban and urban children can't make the connection between the cow in the children's zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo and the McDonalds Hamburger they're going to eat at lunch.

 

There are a lot of reasons to go hunting, just as there are not to go hunting - but it comes down to it being a matter of personal choice. Yes, there are slob hunters - but then again there a slobs of one kind or another in all activities - even in the BSA.

 

One last thought to ponder - in our increasingly urban society (over 60% of us live in urban areas now) where fewer and fewer people know how to work the land and grow or find food, the skills of hunting or fishing or farming/gardening are starting to fade. When it comes right down to it, those are the building block skills needed for our survival and we need to maintain them - even if its just some of us.

 

CalicoPenn

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