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
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.