Aug 21, 2007

Save a Deer, Shoot a Hunter!

No, of course I don't want to you really shoot a hunter! I got your attention, though, didn't I?

But, seriously, we should protect wildlife by banning all hunting, right? Hunting is a cruel and unnecessary sport and hunters are just evil people who enjoy torturing animals and watching them suffer, right?

Well no, actually, I don't think so.

You're thinking, What!? You're a wildlife artist! You love wildlife! You love nature! You contribute to wildlife conservation! You care about animal rights! How could you possibly not support a hunting ban!? How could you not think hunters are horrible, cruel people!?

It's quite simple really.

First of all, the sad reality of this world is that it revolves around money. Wildlife conservation would not exist without money and hunters make huge contributions to wildlife conservation efforts through hunting licenses and through the support of organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Like it or not, without hunters there would be a whole lot less wildlife conservation going on.

Secondly, hunters aren't horrible, cruel people either. Well, not all of them anyway. I'm sure there are some bad apples out there just as there are in any group. But many hunters care very deeply about nature and wildlife. Now, I personally can't understand how you can love something and then kill it but I have met and talked with hunters enough to know there are such people. I don't know understand it but I know other people can feel that way somehow (just like I can't understand how anyone can like brussel sprouts but I know some people do!). I can tell by the looks in their eyes and the sounds of their voice when they talk about it that they love nature more than anything. These particular types of hunters are ethical and compassionate and have no desire to cause pain and suffering to the animals they hunt. Many are willing to let "The Big One" get away rather than hit it with a sloppy shot and they abhor sloppy, unethical hunters as much as we do.

I'm all for the ethical and humane treatment of animals but when attitudes become extreme then logic becomes flawed. While I appreciate the intentions of IDA, for example, something they said in an article about how to better reduce and control the deer population seemed a little absurd to me.

"Hunting does remove some animals from the population, but it does not keep deer populations at a continually reduced level. Immediately after a hunt, the remaining animals flourish because less competition for food exists, allowing the remaining animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a higher reproductive rate."
"In Defense of Animals believes that sport hunting is not only an ineffective wildlife management tool, but a cruel and unnecessary practice. Sport hunting should be banned, allowing deer populations to regulate themselves naturally." (source)
I have to wonder if they've given any thought as to how nature regulates deer populations "naturally." Some people feel that "natural" is always better. But if you think about it you'll realize that nature is often more cruel than humans. What IDA is saying above is that they want to see an end to the hunting that allows some animals to "live healthier lives" and instead let the populations increase until nature causes all the deer to suffer, since nature regulates populations through starvation and disease. This is an odd choice for an organization that supposedly cares about animals since starvation, malnutrition, and disease cause far more pain and suffering than a bullet. I don't know about you but if I had to choose I'd much rather take a bullet through the heart than die a slow agonizing death through starvation.

So try not to hate hunters, at least not the ones who are ethical and support wildlife conservation. They're doing more good for wildlife than they're doing harm to it. They're human like you after all and, whether you want to believe it or not, humans are part of nature too.


cindy beck horse artist said...

as a fellow animal artist and lover i happen to agree with you. i have seen thin weak starving deer where hunting was curtailed for a while and it was awful. i would much rather see large healthy beautiful deer bounding around. no..i couldn't shoot them either. i am too much of a softie. but i have family that hunts and i respect the roles they play in maintaining a healthy population.

DesertRat said...

Thank you for posting that. It's nice to see a non-hunter seeing things rationally and acknowledging that we are not all slack-jawed neanderthals

Cody Carena---other wise known as crosscountry2 said...

hey, I was un the deer hunting chat forum when you were on there and thats how i got to the blog. I am a big time hunter, and i completely agree with this blog. I had to do some searching around to find it again becasue your post did get deleted. I would enjoy you posting more topics on deer hunting chat forum. E-mal me and

Tee Juice said...

Thanks for a well thought out approach to the issue, great post.

Amie Roman said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post Crista. This is something my husband & I spend a lot of time discussing and thinking about. We are both hunters and avidly appreciate nature in all its glory; we spend a heck of a lot more time outdoors looking & observing (and me photographing/sketching!) than anything else. And we think VERY CAREFULLY before we take anything for our table. These animals are our beef, chicken & pork (although we do also consume the supermarket variety, we'd like to be a bit more self-sufficient in the long run, and also support our local farmers as much as possible to fill our freezer otherwise).

I really appreciate that you are not a hunter, and are not interested in hunting for yourself, but that you believe in others' rights to do so, and that there are ethical and conservation reasons behind it. Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. I respect non-hunters feelings, and I do understand them, and I really don't like to "flaunt" my hunting status and am usually very careful how and to whom I speak about it; but I appreciate it even more when non-hunters can see that hunting is not evil, and indeed, can recognize some value.

And, by the way, people who shoot/kill animals in a cruel and inhumane fashion, who handle their tools dangerously and without regard to life or property, and do not present an ethical face to the world, are not hunters. They are careless, thoughtless and sometimes cruel: poachers, vandals, and slobs.

Donna Ridgway said...

I liked your post. I hunt with my camera nowdays, but I believe like you do. It's nice when you find people who aren't afraid to speak up. It's the same problem, letting the forest burn to wildfire because that's "natural" when the new ways of logging would make use of what's wasted by fire.

Annarie said...

For the most part, I like your logic.

However, "naturally" doesn't necessarily mean letting the population grow to the point that it suffers and the deer begin to die - it could also have to do with restoring natural predator populations. Humans have eradicated nearly all of the deer's natural predators in many areas. If we worked to bring back their populations, then they would keep the deer herd sizes in check.

It would be different from humans hunting, you see, because these predators would be doing what they were born to do - not what they enjoy in the leisure time.

Anonymous said...

I recognize that Mother Nature has created a world where meat is food, and meat comes from animals, and, therefore, if hunting is the way to get that meat. What I don't understand is the mentality of the hunters I see for instance on television. The high-fiving, the giddy joy over the number of antlers - Geez, you just killed a creature who was harming no one, eating vegetables, gently living its life - with a high-powered rifle - fine, you did it for the meant, but by God, at least bow your head for a second and say your sorry. Forgo the trophy and the high-fiving.

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