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December 2, 2007
Further commentary on hunting
Editor's note: Our published interview The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting and Barbara Metler's response to it [with a rejoinder by M.W. Gail] continue to generate interesting email, so we present another collection of commentary on hunting.
Barbara Metzler writes in response to M.W. Gail's rejoinder to her response:
M.W. Gail said that "animals reproduce whether we hunt them or not," which is true, but when they are hunted, it causes them to reproduce more quickly and in greater numbers. That is precisely one reason they should not be hunted.
Gail also said that dying of starvation and disease is more painful than a bullet or an arrow. They won't die of starvation if their population is not increased due to hunting.
As for the arrow being less painful, obviously, M.W. Gail does not know that of all types of hunting, bow hunting is the most cruel method because the wounding rate is about 55%, meaning that for every 100 arrow-shot deer, 55 stagger around with arrows imbedded in a non-vital area, for days, weeks, even months before they die. It took Braveheart, a magnificent young buck from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, nearly a year to die, slowly and painfully, after being shot by a bowhunter.
Another buck wounded by the arrow from a hunter and not retrieved by the hunter died outside my house.
"For humane advocates [and many hunters], bowhunting is set apart from other forms of sport hunting chiefly by its appalling high wounding rate - greater than 50%. In other words, it has been conclusively documented that for every animal hit by a broadhead arrow and retrieved by a hunter, at least one is hit and not retrieved, usually to die after prolonged agony from septic infection, peritonitis, blood loss, or other complications. The broadhead arrow is intended to kill primarily by circulatory hemorrhage. It is extremely difficult to shoot an arrow into a vital organ in a large ungulate such as a deer, and thus, a 'clean kill' is nearly impossible in bowhunting." Houston Post
I hope that M.W. Gail just keeps eating venison to make himself happy!!!
Remember, too, that chronic wasting disease, a deadly deer illness related to "mad cow," has been discovered in many states. Meat from one of the infected New York deer was fed to people at a fire department fund-raiser before any test results were complete. The meat was inspected only because the man who donated the deer thought it looked ill.
Typically, deer meat is NOT even inspected. Just because a butcher is an approved USDA butcher -- that has nothing to do with his ability to test. It only means that his facility is clean enough.
An article on Ted Nugent's site said, "Some hunters too squeamish to eat their kill are donating the venison to pantries for the homeless."
Infectious prions have been found in deer "meat." In other words, the proteins which cause chronic wasting disease have been discovered in deer muscle -- the part of the animal that is eaten. They had been thought to be only in nervous-system tissue, including brain, spinal and lymph tissues.
A person who eats venison could swallow the proteins shown to cause the deadly brain disease.
Health officials have long reassured hunters they would not be exposed to the disease as long as they did not touch or eat those parts. However, this is quite a breakthrough in research.
Chronic wasting disease, a fatal form of brain degeneration, has been spreading among wild deer in for at least a decade.
The time between a person's exposure to an aberrant prion and the first sign of symptoms is often more than a decade. So just because people don't get ill immediately means nothing.
How Do You Test For CWD? The only sure and practical way to diagnose CWD is through microscopic examination of the brain stem of a deer or elk. Recently, research indicated that using ELISA testing on lymph nodes appears reliable as a screening method for the disease. However, immunohistochemistry testing of obex portion of brain stem remains the most reliable and accurate test available.
A test for live animals, involving the removal of tonsils, is currently in experimental and research stages. Testing for CWD is done by federally-approved laboratories; there is no quick test that you or your meat processor can perform to determine if your animal has CWD.
How interesting that some states grant IMMUNITY OF DONORS OF WILD GAME MEAT for free use by a charitable organization from civil or criminal liability arising from an injury or death attributable to the nature, age, condition or packaging of the donated wild game meat if the injury or death is not a result of the gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of the donor.
I have spoken to people in charge of many food banks was told by all of the people that they don't even want deer meat.
The consensus of opinion was that the money spent to pay for the butchering of the deer would be better spent and more appreciated if used for items that could be enjoyed by all the recipients such as canned goods, cheese, eggs, and juice. Most people don't like venison, and at least 50% of weight of the deer isn't even edible.
Deer meat is tough and difficult to prepare. It is stringy and chewy unless you chop it finely and intermix fat from other organs of the deer besides muscle. Also, there are some soup kitchens that won't accept the meat because of the fear that it is pesticide and herbicide laden. Venison is certainly not in demand at these facilities.
If hunters/exterminators/townships really want to help the needy, donations would be most appreciated so that they could feed the needy what they actually like to eat, at a fraction of the cost of hunting, killing and butchering. When all the costs are considered it costs $22 OR MORE for a pound of venison. Just think of all the nutritious tasty food one could buy for this price.
I am not swayed by the purported benevolence of the hunters. They are just trying to justify the needless killing of defenseless deer.
I don't know which state M.W. Gail lives in, but where I live, hunters do blast away at wildlife, cackling madly as flesh flies, while swilling from a bottle of booze. And, I agree with M.W. Gail that people can find fellowship sitting around a campfire, but they don't have to kill an animal first.
Finally, I would like to say that I am a registered Republican and I am definitely not a typical liberal as M.W. Gail said. I would also like to say that compassion for animals has nothing to do with partisan politics. Animal cruelty has nothing to do with partisan politics.
I don't have time to send quotes for all of the men that M.W. Gail mentioned, but I will close with this:
From a wise and kind man
"When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies."
Rosslyn Smith writes:
Thank you for running "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting"
I do not hunt, but where I live it is not the hunters who disrespect nature. I talk to them. Many of them have been hunting in these mountains for several generations and most are keen conservationists. They identify the target before they shoot, refrain from taking that shot unless they have an excellent chance at a clean kill and obey the no trespassing signs. Many of them also go to personal expense to plant native fruit and nut trees like persimmon and oak to provide both cover and forage. As for unfairly tricking their prey, unless conditions are absolutely perfect those deer and turkey can see, smell and hear the hunters long before the hunters ever see them. The person who hunts my land averages about four shots at deer in a season, which in North Carolina is almost a four months combined for bow, black powder and firearms. It takes an incredible amount of patience to be a successful hunter.
I also talk to those who oppose hunting. It has been my experience that it is these well meaning, transplanted urbanites who tend to genuinely disrespect nature. They do so by building their 4000 square foot fantasy homes on steep slopes, introducing foreign ornamental flora that provide little or no habitat, creating ornamental ponds where nature prefers fast moving streams and otherwise trying to force the wilderness to conform to their highly sanitized, anthropomorphic romantic vision. They go on about the innocence of nature, which is just so much muddled headed garbage. Innocence means the freedom from moral wrong or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil. Only those with the capacity for higher conscience can be innocent. Nature knows neither guilt or innocence, only survival versus oblivion. As for exploiting game such as deer, I don't see how that is possible. To exploit means to misappropriate what rightly belongs to others. The only people I've ever seen exploit wildlife are those who try to turn them into pets, use them as roadside attractions or, even more perversely, pretend to speak on the animals' behalf to accrue political power for their own purposes.
As for driving responsibly, I am all for it but even then I have had many very close calls. I am also for hiking responsibly during hunting reasons, which means that I inform myself as to the extent of the hunting seasons and wear proper blaze orange whenever I venture into the woods and fields -and that includes my own property.
Hunting has been an integral part of mankind from well before the time of recorded history. Long before our ancestors learned how to cultivate crops they were stalking animals and using snares, pitfall traps, spears and arrows to kill game. What I find truly frightening to contemplate is how anyone can have such a profound misunderstanding of that fact that feel compelled to label those who seek to retain this honored connection to the past as "huffy red-necks", thrill killers and pathetic souls trying too hard compensate for their lack of genuine manliness. Such rank bigotry and fourth rate psychoanalysis tends to vitiates whatever scientific points the anti-hunting forces attempt to make.
Finally let me add that I suspect that the "hunting increases the herd" theory is of the same dubious, self serving pedigree as "rain follows the plow." It is the available food supply that determines the reproduction rate of any animal population. In rural areas that are reforesting because farmers have abandoned their fields deer and grouse populations are decreasing even though there remains a great deal of hunting. That is because woody areas provide far less nutrition than open fields used for crops and then sowed with winter cover like rye and clover. White tail deer and Canada goose populations have increased nationwide in recent decades because the mixture of tree belts, retention ponds and lush open lawn and garden spaces found in modern suburbia provide an excellent mix of both food and cover. The only natural predators in suburbia, dogs and cats, have also been confined by now close to universal leash laws. Domestic dogs left to roam take a high toll of spring fawns.
George Nagle writes:
I am an ex-hunter, gun owner, Christian and registered Independent. I point this out up front so that Mr. Gail doesn't try to miscategorize my opinion as typically liberal.
I quit hunting because I no longer enjoyed killing the wildlife that I had come to love. I've experienced enough death and tragedy in my life, and it was no longer acceptable for me to bring any suffering to defenseless animals.
His claim that hunters hunt for food is typical propaganda to justify hunting. It cost a lot more money to go hunting than to the grocery store to put food on the table. All of the hunters I hunted with and know, were trophy hunting. The food was an incidental, that they would gladly give away.
I also disagree with Mr. Gail's point that if left unchecked the deer population would grow out of control and that they would suffer from starvation and disease. This is just not true. If left unchecked the deer and other game animal populations, like all other animal populations that are not hunted, stabilize to their environment and food supply.
Furthermore, I don't think it's a valuable lesson to teach children to kill. Children have a natural empathy toward animals, and being forced to kill them can cause life long psychological problems. Loving nature has nothing to do with killing it. As Paul Watson, an ex Sierra Club board member said: "You can't love or respect nature with a gun."
I don't consider hunting a sport with honor or integrity. What chance does a deer have against a 30-06 high-powered rifle, with a 150-grain bullet, deadly accurate at 300 yards?
In 2002, the Rev. Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest and authority on animal welfare, wrote an open letter to bishops in the House of Lords at the time of a debate over hunting. "The deliberate infliction of suffering on 'lesser creatures' who are wholly in our power, and who are strictly speaking, morally innocent," he wrote, "is a gross betrayal of our God-given responsibility."
Since Mr. Gail seems to want to frame hunting as a partisan debate, I would suggest that he read Matthew Scully's book, " Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy." Mr. Scully served until recently as special assistant and deputy director of speechwriting to U.S. President George W. Bush.
Charles Campbell writes:
First, I myself am not a hunter. I don't have the patience or the desire to spend my time with rifle in hand wondering the woods in search of the kill. I'm also a very poor shot, so even if I did have the patience, I would be more likely to wound than to kill.
Most of the paternal side of my family, however, are hunters. As they grew up farmers on a mountain side in rural Tennessee, hunting was simply a part of their young life. It often made the difference between having meat and not having meat. All of my uncles, my father, and my grandfather before his death, are very good hunters.
My father started as the Ranger of Skymount Boy Scout Camp in the summer of 1996. The history of this camp makes for a good case study of the importance of hunting, and it's conservational benefits.
For about the first 20 years that it was a Boy Scout Camp, Skymount had one ranger. The Boy Scouts charge the ranger with the upkeep and maintance of the camp, which is about 2400 acres of woodland on the side of a mountain in rural Tennessee. Part of the maintance of the camp includes maintain the natural wildlife of the area, which inlcudes deer. The first ranger allowed reasonable hunting of the wildlife to help control the population, and for good reason. There are no wolves in rural Tennessee, and haven't been for a very long time. There are some coyotes and wild dogs, but these animals are not good predators of deer. And though there are still some bears, these are not primary predators.
When the first ranger retired in the late '80s (I do not know the exact year), the ranger posistion was given to a few different rangers who did not allow hunting on the camp. The deer population exploded. The quial population was completely destroyed, mice and other scavangers exploded, and in general, the wildlife population went out of balance. It should also be noted that the native and non-native pine of the camp has been attacked by bettles and several other ecological problems occured during this time.
One of the first things my father did as ranger was to change the ecological stewardship practices. He and other, trustworthy, hunters started hunting the area once again. First, to say that a species will enter an equilibrium with its environment is a foolish idea. This only works when there is both predetor and prey in constant compitition. When you remove predation from the equation, only desiease and available food control population. This leads to inbreading, a higher rate of desease, and eventually starvation that can wipe out an entire population.
When my father started hunting the deer of the camp, he focused on those who had a high level of mutation caused by the over population. The entire deer population was starving, most were undersized, had genetic desease, and were suffering. My father thined the herd, killed those who were the weakest.
Today, the population is much healther. They are fewer in number, and are kept that way. But now the camp can support them. They have no unusual fear of people. I've been able to walk within a few feet of deer on the camp. One of them was a large buck that had to weigh more than two-hundred and fifty pounds, and was truely beautiful in form and coat. My father has reintroduced quial to the camp. The turkey population has increased, has have several other species. Some of these have come from hunting, some simply from good management. However, the improvement of the deer population is entirely due to the application of responsible hunting.
There are good hunters and there are bad hunters. Most hunters hunt for food as well as sport (few will disregard that aspect entirely). Deer meat is not the same as beef. It is leaner, healthier, and harder to cook. Wild turkey is also not the same as farm turkey. Again, it is leaner, healthier, and harder to cook. I've eaten squirrel, rabbit, deer, and turkey that was all hunted by my family. There have been times when I was low on money when the copious amounts of deer my father has in his freezer provided the basis of meals for weeks on end. Though I will probably not be a hunter at any point in my life, I would not dare stand up and say that it is worng, morally unjust, or attempt to stop anyone from the responsible practice of it.