Eye on the Antis – February 2005

Wasn't Hunting Once a Glorious Pursuit?

I saw a buddy of mine over the holidays. Good guy, lives in Atlanta, works as an architect, doesn’t hunt.

“How was your harvest?” he asked.

“Pretty dang good — 42 bushels an acre.”

“No, your deer harvest.”

“Oh, I killed two, but we’ve eaten one of ’em up already. Freezer’s pretty empty. By the way, we harvest beans. We kill deer.”

I remember back when the anti-hunting idiots were first starting to raise enough stink that hunters were taking notice, a hunting magazine recommended hunters take off their camo before going to town to shop or get a bite to eat. Seems camo might make a non-hunter think there was an animal killer in their midst, and we wouldn’t want to upset the sensibilities of a man trying to order a burger. Thank goodness this hide-your-camo suggestion never took hold.

Words are another matter. Why must DNR, the outdoor press, and even hunters themselves feel compelled to carefully phrase their words about hunting so as not to offend the unfortunate and ignorant?

Back when your grandma needed a chicken for supper, did you go out in the backyard and harvest a chicken? No, you caught that sucker, killed it, dressed it, and hung it on the clothes line. And trust me, grandma didn’t make us cover the family’s impending supper with a tarp so as not to offend any chicken lovers.

Hunters will soon be allowed on a couple of state parks. It’s about time, you say? Well don’t expect any banners welcoming you to Hard Labor, Red Top, or Richard B. Russell. DNR has made it very clear that hunters will be there only so we can “harvest” some deer to help “manage” the wildlife and habitat.
There are too many deer in some locations of the state — fancy neighborhoods like Big Canoe and Reynolds Plantation, National Park Service land along the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, the 50-acre horse farm near my land, and almost every single one of our state parks. What do these properties have in common other than ridiculously high deer numbers? No-hunting signs. Posted.

WRD can crunch deer numbers until the cows come home, and it won’t matter. Deer will still get hit by cars, especially around Kennesaw Mountain. WRD could even allow deer hunting 365 days a year with no limit. Think that’ll solve the deer overpopulation problem? No, because deer are overpopulated on land where hunting isn’t allowed. Meanwhile, heavily hunted areas are getting overshot and deer numbers are getting so low some hunters want to give it up entirely.

If DNR wants to do something to help deer overpopulation problems, they should devote about 10,000 times more effort into public relations. Tell the story, educate the public. DNR should be a PR rep for hunting. If DNR can send educational materials to schools about bluebird boxes, why not about hunting and conservation?

A DNR Board member last week adamantly stated that hunting was not to become a “recreational” activity on Parks, that it was strictly to manage the deer herd. Has hunting become such a negative thing that even our own DNR Board can’t embrace the concept?

Hunting is honorable. This country’s conservation ethic — centered around the stewardship of land and wildlife by hunters — is an amazing success story worthy of chest-pounding by sportsmen and deserving of an annual parade through Atlanta.

Hunting is also glorious. To personally interact with nature, to see the sunrises and sunsets and the critters, to occasionally go home with something that will make a unique, incredible meal for your family… these things make hunting a glorious pursuit.

It is true that deer reproduce… well, they reproduce like rabbits, which by the way also taste good. But someone needs to tell DNR that deer are not pests. They are awesome animals worthy of respect and admiration. Is it to much to ask that DNR consider the future of hunting and conservation important enough to start telling the rest of Georgia?

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