Vol. IV, No. 3, Winter 1991



Future of Hunting in Hands of Hunters

An OzarksView by Alan Daniels



It is a cold, crisp, frosty morning, the second Saturday in November, the traditional opening morning of deer season in Missouri.

At about 5:30 a.m. the hunter makes his way through the crackling leaves to his deer stand. As the sun sheds its first rays of the new day, the hunter hears the familiar sounds of crunching leaves he knows it to be deer.

First arrive the young ones, romping around and butting heads. Then comes the cautious doe, with her nose raised high in the air trying to detect any danger that might be lurking close by. After several minutes of feeding, the doe comes to "full alert." She seems to relax when she finds out the sound she was hearing came from the rutting 10-pointer that had been following her.

The hunter cracks a big smile. The moment he has been waiting for has finally arrived. He moves ever so cautiously to get into position for the shot. Finally, he sees his opportunity, aims carefully, and clicks a perfect shot; "click, click," two more perfect shots.

No resounding report from his high powered rifle? Just a tiny "click," and a perfect shot?

Well, you see, in this future year the only way to hunt deer is with a camera.

How could such a thing have happened? Let's take a look:

According to some sources, of an estimated 30 million hunters, about 15 million are deer hunters. On the other side we have a growing number of anti-hunters, and in the middle are all the rest of the people who are neither for nor against hunting.

But the number of anti-hunters is growing. Why? Part of it is misguided information about hunting not being a tool for wildlife management. The fact is that without hunting many species would overpopulate and starve to death, a more cruel death than a well-placed bullet or arrow.

Part of it is an appeal to the sympathies of the several million people who are neutral on hunting. They show clips on television of "hunters" making bad shots and making animals suffer, then laughing about it. That kind of publicity can change a lot of opinions.

Last and most important, the hunters themselves are making people turn against hunting.

How many more "No Hunting" and "No Trespassing" signs have you seen put up in the last five years? A lot of these signs have been nailed to trees because of unfavorable experiences with hunters.

These are hunters who drive up and down gravel roads, shoot deer and cut fences to retrieve their trophies.

A lot of deer shot during the season are taken this way. Though it's against the law, an ever increasing number of hunters are taking wildlife from the road. Is it any wonder hunting is getting a bad name?

Also, many places have been posted as a result of inconsiderate or negligent hunters who drive their four-wheel-drive vehicles across the farmer's hayfields or cropfields. They may leave a gate open and let the cows out.

Nothing turns a farmer off of hunting more than, after a hard day's work, having to chase his cattle down because some hunter forgot to shut the gate.

Or put yourself in this scenario: You're a farmer and your livelihood comes from the cattle you're grazing out in your field. You're in bed after a hard day's work. At 1 a.m. you're startled awake by a shot from a high powered rifle. You look out in the field where your cows are bedded and there sits a pickup with a spotlight. Two men are dragging a deer to the truck. They shot it right in the middle of your cattle.

Don't think that farmer will continue to allow hunting on his place. You wouldn't.

Anti-hunter groups find plenty of "bad press" to use against hunters.

Every time a law is broken it just gives the antis another stick of wood to fuel their fire.

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When the pendulum swings to the point that there are more anti-hunters than hunters, then the beginning of this story will become reality.

Remember hunting is a privilege, not a right. If a majority of the people in this nation or state become anti-hunters, your valued privilege will be lost.

Hunters, the future of hunting is in your hands.

Don't let it slip away.

This article first appeared in the Buffalo Reflex, Wednesday, November 26, 1990.

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Alan Daniels is the Dallas County, Missouri Conservation Agent.

Copyright -- OzarksWatch


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