Hunting and other stuff
    These are my opinions on hunting and other things. First, let me make it clear that as a Naturalist who has trained in Biology for most of my life, I have nothing against hunting as a sport and as a means of gathering food. I do indeed have problems with sport hunting that is mainly for the gathering of trophies. If you are going to eat it, fine. If you are going for a trophy, then that is disrespectful to the animal, and to the world in which we live.
    I come from a long line of hunters. Indeed, my grandfather was forced to feed his family by hunting during the Great Depression. There is a story of him going to the hardware store and spending his last dime on six shotgun shells one day. He managed to bring back three rabbits, two squirrels, and two quail. That's right, he got two of something with one shot.
    I have heard people say that folks should only hunt for "subsistence", that is, only to feed themselves. This is a silly argument, as most people who hunt (other than the aforementioned "trophy hunters") eat what they kill. This is a backhanded way of appeasing the "NativeAmericans" (who, by the way, prefer to be called American Indians if you don't know their Tribal or National affiliations), and is rather disrespectful; sort of like saying "ok, we'll let the savages hunt if they have to". The other part of this argument is that we should only allow people to hunt if it is a part of their "tradition". (Such as "Native Americans".) Well, that is totally bogus, as many Americans who are not "Native Americans" have a long tradition of hunting for food; indeed, my family has a tradition that stretches all the way back to Daniel Boone.

    Now for the argument that hunting endangers game populations. It can do so if uncontrolled. Game Biologists are a much under appreciated group. They gather statistics on big game by calculating reported harvest totals, then have to factor in the unreported data from poaching, road kills, wild and uncontrolled dogs, disease, predation and a host of other things, and then calculate what the legal bag limits should be for the next year. This also has to factor in that many if not most hunters don't manage (or bother to, or have the freezer space) to fill their bag for the year, and then they have to hope and pray they are right. Indeed, in many places they aren't right, at least on Whitetail Deer. Whitetails in North Carolina are bacoming a problem in many areas (Piedmont mostly), costing farmers millions in crops destroyed, costing home owners in vegetables and trees eaten, and in many cases the deer are over browsing entire areas. Many autos are damaged or destroyed, and people are injured by hitting deer at 60 miles an hour. Deer in some places are becoming so numerous that their natural food is getting scarce. Not bad for an "endangered" population.
    In fact, there are more deer in North Carolina today than there were when Sir Walter Raleigh founded his abortive colony on the coast. Many, many more, and more every year. Why? Habitat.
In the time that Raleigh founded the Lost Colony most of North Carolina was mostly unbroken forest. Not good Whitetail habitat. Whitetails like the edges of things, where they can browse on low bushes, small trees, vines, and the occasional grass or forb. Not much of that in the primeval forest of the Southeast, though the Indians tried to provide it by clearing areas and burning the woods to provide more growth for them to eat. That's right, the deer population has been managed for over 1500 years before the European settlers arrived. Today we have forest that is broken up into small units, much of it second growth (perfect deer habitat) or burned (in this case mostly coastal pine forest, and also excellent deer habitat) or cut frequently. All of these human activities generate ideal places for deer to breed and feed, and their population skyrockets, in many cases uncontrolled. Predators do not exist in the east, as most were wiped out by farmers over 200 years ago, and in most cases predators do not fit in well to the intense agriculture of the Southeast anyway, since Cougars are not at all compatible with livestock, unfortunately. Nor are Gray Wolves. Red Wolves, who have been re-introduced into the Great Smoky Mountains, are not much of a threat to livestock, as their prey are usually small mammals and birds, though they can do some damage to young livestock if their natural prey is scarce. Elk too have been re-introduced after an over 200 year absence.

Now, all that said, I will tell you that I don't deer hunt. Not because of any problem with it; I love deer meat (venison), but procuring it is just too much work for me, and finding freezer space to keep it is daunting. I will accept it if you give it to me, but I don't want to go out and get it, hence I rarely eat venison. I do however like to hunt small game, though it has been years since I have gotten anything - lack of patience and attention to detail. I seem to wander in the woods with a shotgun. However, if I do indeed get something, it gets eaten.

So you can see from all this that I am indeed a hunter (though a poor one) and have nothing against people hunting, so don't confuse me with an anti hunter; you will be disappointed.