As a grandfather, husband for 48 years, devoted lover of kids and dogs and wildlife, I think there is a bit more to the picture. Non-hunters often think we love to kill things- and I agree that we hunters are at fault for not trying to show folks that there is a lot more to understand. I beg you to take a few moments to read this. I think you will find it thought provoking.
I first want to thank you for being willing to at least consider the other side of the issue. Far too many people today, in politics, in religion, in life- see things only their way, assuming all others of different opinions–to be deficient in gray matter or just plain dumb and wrong. So I am delighted to welcome a willing mind to the fray
Please realize that most hunters have no problem with anyone taking the position- “I could not personally do that”. Very understandable. On the other hand, if common sense is used, since there are something like 40 million hunters and huntresses in the US alone- it is certainly inconceivable that all those millions of people are fools, are just wanton killers and are all insensitive to this issue! I alone have nearly 20,000 clients for my hunting programs. Among them are physicists; teachers, doctors of all kinds (interesting!); judges, lawyers, women, young men and wives and grandmothers – the list is long and of course includes blue collar guys too. So it is clear that something appeals across a broad spectrum. Before I talk about that, let me digress to what you refer to murder – the possible waste of wildlife.
I could go on for pages, but I want to give you just a brief overview. By the way, in a different life I was an attorney until I retired to chase my dreams. So if many years of education count for anything, I hope I acquired some knowledge along the way! I say this to show you that I am not just a dumb redneck know nothing!
OK- lets look first at a basic proposition- namely: Why would any hunter want to kill all of the animals? Basic common sense suggests that if hunters engaged in such conduct, (killing all or most of any specie) it would quickly mean we would be forced to take up golf or tennis in short order! Actually, basic common sense would suggest to any sane hunters – that hunters who engage in practicing conservation will help to increase the numbers of wildlife. That will ALWAYS be a hunters major objective- it is in his own interest to do so. Exterminating a specie is stupid and unforgivable. That is Fact, unarguable, just common sense.
Now some forms of harvesting animals unfortunately get labeled as “hunting” —and here I am referring to things like “poaching” and wanton killing! To most hunters, such things are appalling and self defeating. For example, the wholesale slaughter of the buffalo, the carrier pigeon, the egrets for their feathers–and more- were done in the 1800’s and eraly 1900’s – for profit motives- for the almighty dollar- and to hell with the final outcome. That was not hunting- it was just profit. Nothing was spared, nothing was protected. Thankfully, today, hunters would rise up en masse to rail against such behavior! President Teddy Roosevelt was an avid hunter, and he protected 10’s of millions of acres!! Teddy protected more land than all the presidents combined before him or since him!! As a hunter Teddy saw the need! No-one has ever done more.
Our hunting license dollars are the major financial support for the Game and Fish Departments and their biologists. We hunters directly contribute tens of millions of dollars by paying a variety of license fees– to support those biologists in every state of the union- and it is they who in turn, manage all wild animals!! Also, we fund acquisition of critical land to avoid its’ development and leave wildlife a place to survive and prosper. We have developed major organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation who has saved millions of acres from development, as has Ducks Unlimited and many other organizations founded and supported — 100% by hunters. Those hunters hold banquets annually, that each year raise millions of dollars for habitat improvement, protection of critical animal migration routes, and the like. Years ago we volunteered to subject ourselves to an extra tax on sporting goods and ammunition- and that alone has raised about $100 million dollars for conservation. Why would hunters do that if we were just plain kill crazy? The answer is, we love what we do, and we want our wildlife to survive and prosper. Again- common sense!
Indeed, in Wyoming where I live, a non-resident elk license costs between $591 and $1071—all of which goes directly into our Game and Fish Department. How many people do you personally know who have contributed $500 to $1000 every year toward animal conservation and management?
As an important side note- please realize that hunters are not uniformly successful. Success rates on different species can range from 10% to 90%, and usually the lower the success rate, the more highly prized is the specie!! So for example, note that elk hunter success is rarely more than about 40% nationally! Put on top of that, transportation, guiding fees, etc- and realize that many thousands of hunters will spend $5000 or more to chase an elk- but will go home without an elk – and they cannot wait to try again next year!
Why? Who spends that kind of money on recreation — knowing there are high odds of failure? How many people do you know who would gamble $5000 on a potentially “unsuccessful” trip? And if they do it- then ask yourself this: why do they do it??
The answer is, killing or not killing — is not the measure of success or failure. A hunter will watch the sun come up over remote mountains while riding a horse thru the wilderness; he may be blessed to see a grizzly bear, to enjoy the primeval bugle of a wild bull elk while 20 miles into the wilderness; to share a campfire with friends and to hear and tell outrageous stories to one another- what great fun! We get to witness the Lord’s greatness every day we are out there! We share camaraderie and a love of nature and wild places. Why else would we happily sit on a stump, freezing our tails off, in the hope that a deer will pass by? And then likely as not we will let it pass since the odds are it will not be what we are hoping to see. Sane people are sitting in front of their TV, warm and sipping coffee!
As to whether hunters are damaging anything, or committing atrocities on wildlife — let’s take a fast look at two wildlife species in the US- whitetail deer and wild turkeys. It is clear from history that by the early 1900’s whitetails had been slaughtered for food and market almost to the point of extinction. We were a subsistence economy at that time, especially in the rural areas. It was Hunters that fought to get laws passed to curtail poaching and market hunting and the abuse of the resource. It was hunters who forced governments to regulate and set limits, and to legislate some ethical behavior. We won, and today there are literally more whitetails in the US then there was when the pilgrims landed–FACT! In some states, nearly 300,000 to 500,000 whitetails a year are taken by hunters IN JUST A SINGLE STATE— more than perhaps existed in the entire US about 100 years ago! Today there millions of deer- millions. And it all happened through a working partnership of biology, game laws, and hunter/conservationists and their dollars.
Indeed, I have personally seen hunters risk their lives, crawling out on the ice to rescue a deer who fell thru the ice, a deer that was too exhausted to climb out, and would die if left there. Why would a killer of deer risk his own life to rescue a creature he loves to hunt? Why do such a thing? Simple and again common sense- we love and revere our wild brethren. We desire to see them prosper. They enrich our lives; they furnish us with hours of enjoyment and hours of anticipation. We derive truly intense pleasure in watching them, learning their habits, helping them with proper habitat and with closed seasons – selfish? Maybe a bit- but all of us regularly drive hundreds of miles to do nothing more than watch the animals! I myself drive a thousand miles a year just to watch elk in the National Parks- it is stimulating and wonderful.
So there is the conundrum- we love them –yet we pursue them. But as I said, it is the age old chase that thrills us, not the actual act of taking an animals life. After all, meat processors kills millions of cattle, countless millions of pigs, sheep and chickens- killing is a part of our very existence. Some choose to be vegetarians. I can understand and respect that. But I do not understand why those same people insist on cramming their ways down the throats of the rest of America. That is not freedom- that is tyranny!! This is a country founded on the rights to be different, to have different religions, different beliefs, different hobbies, different life styles. Why should one group take that away from another?
Most non-hunters do not realize that taking a gun afield is no guarantee of taking an animal. In fact, more often than not no animal is taken. Weeks can be spent chasing a single trophy, sometimes several years may be expended! Hunter success rates typically run from lows of 20% to as high as 70%- so why would guys hunt deer for 10 years without ever taking one? ( lawyer friend of mine hunted 11 years with me- over 150 days of hunting- before taking his first deer!) How many people would give up golf if they could never get a ball into the cup?? Clearly the motivation is much more than so called killing. Hunters relish the challenges involved, the hardships, the failures, the companionship; the physical ordeals of freezing cold, high mountains, deep threatening forests! I have clients who operate multi- million dollar businesses – they can routinely negotiate giant deals and never lose their composure. Put the same guy in front of a big deer – his adrenaline will go crazy; his breathing will triple, he will shake and he will shiver- how come? Pure excitement.
How wonderful that a sophisticated, worldly, intelligent man can still find that kind of passion, despite all the layers and veneers of sophistication and corporate wisdom! I often envy children- they play with a cardboard box for hours- while we adults are of course too mature to stoop to do something like that- and we are the poorer for it!
Find a passion in life- pursue it with all your heart- so long as you do no harm! And hunters don’t. We only ask we not be prohibited from pursuing a passion that harms nothing- and indeed our passion greatly benefits our wild game thanks to hunters dollars and efforts! We hunters cannot and will not allow species to be diminished- again common sense.
Now I said let me give you two examples of how we have helped wildlife to prosper–Another example- wild turkey- hunters have spent millions of dollars to restock turkeys all over the US. And so today we have enormous populations all across America. They have been restocked in virtually every state, have been jealously protected and now have grown sufficiently to allow modest hunting to keep their numbers reasonable for their habitat.
Change of pace- a third example – to the Dark Continent. Elephants. Huge, majestic. Endangered? Not even a little bit, not any more. Go back 50 years. They were killed for their tusks — for the ivory- sold to orientals and others. Hunted to brink of extinction. Money drove it- it was not hunting- it was a massacre! Then, as Africa got developed and habitat shrank, the inevitable happened- more animal/human conflicts. When the elephants would raid native villages, if a tribe feared the loss of it’s food- it would relentlessly kill every elephant it found! As always with animal human conflicts- the animal loses! Survival of the human was more important than survival of the elephant.
Now–Jump forward to about 25 years ago- hunters foresaw the loss of the elephant as a game specie. Some very smart guys came up with a revolutionary idea– and they called it the CAMPFIRE program. Basically it was a marriage of the villagers, the African game authorities and the hunters. Say an elephant hunt would sell for $25,000 (today closer to $45,000 and up!). It was decided that about a third of that price should go to the villagers. – now the elephants were saviors – go ahead Mr. and Mrs. Elephant—go and eat my crops- I can buy everything I need with hunter dollars! Much easier, less work, less dangerous too. Other dollars went to hire anti-poaching staff, who actually have had shootouts with the outlaws poaching elephants and rhinos. Today, I believe Zimbabwe has something like 140,000 elephants; Botswana is having a problem- too many elephants and ever decreasing habitat. So hunters are being sought to bring in their money and reduce the populations to sustainable levels. Does that make us wanton killers?
A fourth and final example- from just one sportsmens group in just one state- Arizona. They created auctions and raffles where a special license was offered. The license meant if you obtained one you could hunt the premiere areas in the State. All proceeds from the auctions and raffles go back to the wildlife directly. Here are their 2009 years statistics:
The Arizona Big Game Super Raffle(AZBGSR),(under the guidance and direction of founding members Pete Cimellaro, Cookie Niccoson, Chris Denham and Don Johnson ) has proven to be a valuable tool to raise money for wildlife, with over $1.5 Million raised in total ($513,795 in 2006; $557320 in 2007 and $478,860 in 2008 despite the economic downturn). Below is a breakdown of the total funds raised for each species over the three year period.
Bear $ 26,235
Coues Deer $106,440
Bighorn Sheep $395,350
Turkey $ 44,690
Javelina $ 22,640
Mule Deer $293,210 Total: $1,349,505!!
Folks, hunters work for wildlife! And back it up with their dollars! And this is just one organization in just one state– multiply this 100 times over as every state has multiple such organizations!
And by the way- animals do not go gracefully off to Old Animal Homes! Nature is cruel- old elephants lose their teeth- and they slowly starve to death over months of time, eventually falling prey to disease and small predators. I have seen aging deer gutted by local dogs- literally ripped apart while alive- they were too old to defend themselves or run away! Wolves and coyotes often rip a fetus from the mother’s womb during birth- truth. Far better to remove the older trophy animals with hunting–saving them that type of death, while making room for new and vigorous younger males to propagate the specie!
I hope this is of assistance. I hope it will cause you to think about the issues, and not draw simple assumptions dependent on emotion, and not true fact. I also would honestly like to wish you the best life can give you! I like people, love my kids, love my grandkids- love this nation, and I served it
during Vietnam. Please do not tell me I am heartless, selfish, arrogant, a killer and so on. You could not be more wrong! Heck, I cry at the movies! Thank you so much for considering the other side of the issue. It is thinking people who will save and protect our democracy. My best wishes for a happy and successful life.
THE WORLD’S BIGGEST ARMY
I bet you didn’t know this. . . In WW II, Japan’s highest-ranking naval officer was Isoruku Yamamoto. Although he was Japanese, and his loyalties were unquestionably with the Empire, he studied for many years in America, graduating from Harvard University. There is an oft-repeated (and sometimes disputed) quote attributed to him regarding the possibility of any nation taking a war to American soil:
“You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”
Here is why he was correct:
America’s Hunters. The World’s Largest Army.
The state of Wisconsin has gone an entire deer hunting season without someone getting killed. That’s great, considering there were over 600,000 hunters that got permits in 2010. Allow me to restate that number: 600,000
This force of 600,000 hunters would constitute the eighth largest army in the world – more men under arms than Iran; more than France and Germany combined – all deployed to the woods of a single American state to keep the deer population under control.
But that pales in comparison to the 750,000 who are in the woods of Pennsylvania in November. Michigan’s 700,000 hunters have now returned home. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia, and it is literally the case that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.
And that is just FOUR states.
The total population of registered hunters in America today ranges from 23 million to 43.7 million individuals. (Based on annual data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.) Folks, that is one huge Army of citizens!
As long as the American Hunter retains his right to Bear Arms, America will forever be safe from foreign invasion of troops. No army could handle this!
Hunting – it’s not just a way to fill the freezer…. It’s a matter of National Security. Our founding father’s knew this- they knew the citizen farmers and gun owners had just heroically fought our Revolutionary War—and had just defeated the major super power in the world then- England.
They darn well knew an armed populace would protect this country forever! So they put the right to keep and bear arms into our constitution – again just plain Common Sense! Imagine if folks had showed up to fight the Revolutionary war — BUT without their own guns!! Why heck, the War would have ended almost immediately—EXCEPT for the fact that we already had an armed populace! Those guns fed their families and then were used to defend our country! God bless the hunters.
SOME TIDBITS OF INTEREST:
“Central Missouri deer hunters donated almost 14 tons of venison to area charities during the recent 2010-11 deer season, including more than a ton to the SERVE, Inc. food bank in Fulton. The donation program was made possible by the Share the Harvest Program sponsored by the Central Missouri Chapter of Safari Club International, which is based in Fulton.” (Source: FultonSun.com) Read more at http://bit.ly/i3jLmX.
HumaneWatch.org: Four-Fifths of One Percent
“One of the first things we did when HumaneWatch was launched last February was figure out what the Humane Society of the United States was doing with the nine-figure collection plate it passes every year. We were surprised to learn that according to HSUS’s publicly available tax return for 2008 (the most recent year for which data was available at the time), HSUS devoted less than one-half of one percent of its budget to directly funding hands-on pet shelters.” (Source: HumaneWatch.org) http://bit.ly/eQ9pNA.
Folks: that looks like this: .005. One half of one percent! Apalling. Butch