Hunters should be vocal about contributions
[Reprinted from original]
In the last 60 years or so, I’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors enjoying my time fishing and hunting. Not once while out there did I think what I was doing wasn’t right, and the way things were in the “real” world.
As I became more active in the outdoors, I started watching television shows and reading in print about things that have made me wonder, “Where did that come from?” Some of it was just mis- information. Sometimes it was the small things that were blown out of proportion or outright lies.
As America became more urbanized, our populations become more detached from the facts.
Growing up in Watertown, I knew where hamburger, pork chops and bacon came from — an animal. My Grandpa Menkveld was a cattle buyer and owner of a small stockyard. Back then no one that I knew needed to be told where meat came from because we were close to the land and not hundreds of miles away in some huge city.
It’s truly unfortunate that, today, there are many people who think these products come from their local supermarket. Others believe it meat comes from some fast food chain.
Many of these are the same people, when they hear the word hunting, get all bent out of shape about it. I think maybe these folks have seen too many Winnie the Pooh movies where the animals are best friends, running around playing together.
I’m sure you know what I’m referencing — an animated movie in which Tigger and the Piglet are best friends. Now that’s a fairytale. In the real world, they’d be friends just about as long as it took Tigger to gulp down that goofy-looking Piglet.
One excellent example of this was the misinformed individual who went up north to make friends with and live with the brown bears. He filmed them, talked with them and got up close and personal with them.
When I first heard that this was happening, I didn’t believe it. Who in their right mind would be dumb enough to go prancing around in an area filled with bears, one of the largest and nastiest meat-eating predators in North America?
Sure, there are times when you can get close to bears when they might not bother you, like when they’re in a cage at the zoo. But there are times when the female is with her young, when the males are competing for females or when they’re hungry that you don’t want to be within a mile of them.
This individual thought that he’d figured out the bears and how the real wild world operated. He was so confident he had his girlfriend with him to spend time with his friends, the brown bears.
I’m sure you’ve learned about the final chapter of this story. The the bears killed and ate both him and his girlfriend.
You’d think they’d have enough common sense to avoid dangerous animals, but obviously they didn’t. The real problem, as I see it, is that these types of people don’t know any better. They grew up in a big city watching Yogi and Boo Boo bears and have never been exposed to anything in the wild. They just don’t have a clue to where things come from and to what really happens in the wild.
I hate to say it, but we, the hunters, are part to blame for individuals who know little if anything about wild animals, hunting and how things are in the wild. Now don’t get all riled up, as it seems to appear that those of us who hunt and fish haven’t done the best job of promoting and explaining all we hunters do for the outdoors. We need to do introduce and educate others about hunting and the outdoors.
We need to mentor, letting others know that if it wasn’t for hunters, which were the first conservationists, we wouldn’t have many of wildlife we have today.
Hard to believe that hunters were the first to push for regulated seasons and to demand that they and others who hunted purchase licenses in order to enjoy the sport of hunting. These license fees go to our state game agencies to fund programs that not only benefit hunters, but also those of you who enjoy other outdoor-related activities such as bird watching and hiking. Activities such as these are enjoyed on areas developed by our game agencies and the dollars to purchase and develop them came from hunters.
Hunters were also those who pushed for special taxes on our hunting gear, and that this money would be distributed back to the each state to fund numerous projects.
It’s also the hunting conservation organizations, funded by hunters, helping to bring back numerous wildlife populations that at one time close to extinction because of unregulated commercial harvest and the loss of habitat. These include the wild turkey, whitetail deer and Canada geese, as well as many others. All were on the brink of extinction.
Conservation groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited are just a few of the organizations that have worked hard and long to establish habitat and benefit wildlife.
It’s also a fact that hunters are a very important part of the wildlife management plan, helping to harvest excess animals from the population. Those excess animals, if not harvested, can put tremendous pressure on the rest of the wild animals.
There are some who believe that if the animals are left alone that everything will work out. Unfortunately, nature no longer works that way as there’s only so much habitat (food, water and cover) in the world. Once the wildlife numbers reach a certain point, they’ll literally eat themselves out of house and home. Some believe Mother Nature will take care of it, but her way of doing this isn’t pretty, and the word humane isn’t in her vocabulary.
When deer numbers get too high, she uses blue tongue and chronic wasting diseases to control the population. Blue tongue is a disease that swells up the deer’s tongue and they die a very cruel death because they can’t swallow, dying of thirst.
Chronic wasting disease occurs when bad proteins attack the brain, causing weight loss, loss of bodily functions and eventually death.
If waterfowl populations get too high, Mother Nature uses fowl cholera to knock the population down where birds die by the thousands.
Then there’s mange that affects the fur bearer population. Our area coyotes, those afflicted with this ailment, literally scratch themselves to death.
Hunters need introduce kids to hunting, to be more vocal. We need to let others know the facts about what we do and about the dollars that our groups have given to assure that future generations are able to enjoy hunting. We need to assure everyone that there will be wildlife in the future, and that wildlife can be enjoyed by both hunters and non-hunters alike.