There are misconceptions and misunderstandings about firearms and their use in hunting and target-shooting, as well as in the simple collection of guns. The history of bloodshed in our many wars has led some people to associate the use of firearms in war with the hunting of wild animals and birds.
With the miracle of electronics, the outdoors were suddenly brought into living rooms by way of the picture tube. Disney film production wasted no time. Vast Sunday audiences were riveted to the Disney version of wildlife, with its anthropomorphized characters such as Bambi. This depiction showed Mother Nature as a grandparent who provided a peaceful and idyllic existence for her charges. Little, if any, mention was made of nature’s stern reality and perpetual harmony in enchanted forests. This was a vision of freedom, peace and beauty that was missing from individual’s own lives. In their new found love of wildlife (regardless of whether that version of wildlife was real or imaginary), people couldn’t bear the thought of wild creatures being hunted or trapped. Missing was the reality that a newborn rabbit would be pressing its luck if it lived past six months, or that a Hungarian partridge would not likely see a second winter. This is never due only to hunting, but to the laws of nature itself.
Unfortunately, many confuse the word “consecration” with the word “preservation.” The fact is that living things cannot be preserved. All living things will eventually die due to simple or complex reasons. The fact is that modern hunting, under set rules and guidelines, is all part of the complex science of wildlife management. There is only so much food and shelter for so many animals. Remove one important piece of that puzzle and you have disaster.
Emotion is a prime ingredient in any crusade, but if real progress is to be made, common sense must prevail and lasting solutions must be based on facts. We have given public opinion its trial-and-error and its misgiving are too apparent. Yet, the self-styled “conservationist expert” has found an opportunity to exploit TV talk shows, even though they have no real first-hand field experience of any kind, nor any background in resource wildlife management. We should curb our instincts for the cause of reason and humanity—that we should stop killing animals. Yet all of us know that it is carefully reasoned
“Humanization” of our planet is doing the greatest damage to the environment and to wildlife. Humanization of our natural world, done to keep up with our ever-increasing human needs, tends to disadvantage everything that is not human. The true hunter, who hunts within the laws of scientific wildlife management and seeks freedom in returning to nature as it really is, does far less damage to wildlife than those who want to reconstruct the environment for their personal needs.
The moral question of whether or not to hunt is unfortunately at an impasse The anti-hunter cannot understand how someone can love to kill a game animal and enjoy hunting. It is a paradox beyond comprehension for the anti-hunter and, often, the hunter can rarely explain it in a lucid and rational way. Each extreme involves personal emotions that are difficult to convey to the other.
But while the modern sports hunter may not be able to explain their actions to the satisfaction of the anti-hunter, should it really be necessary to do so?
The prime consideration should never be whether it is morally right or wrong to kill animals, but whether the act of hunting, based on science, jeopardizes the existence of the hunted species. Under that consideration, the act of modern hunting is not wrong. From early history, hunters concerned themselves with the welfare of game animals and birds, and developed certain laws and ethics to govern the taking of wildlife. The hunter willingly spends money on forms, licenses and special taxes to support game management. It was the hunter who first saw the real need for biological facts and principles by which to manage game species.
Since modern game management has been established, with hunting based on biological surplus of wildlife, no game species in all of North America has been severely depleted by sport hunting and as well, many species have been brought back from scarcity to abundance, including the wild turkey, deer and elk. It is the sports hunter who demanded to preserve wildlife habitat for the benefit of game animals as well as non-game species.
The greatest problem we face today is not controlled hunting, but uncontrolled use of the environment. With an uncontrolled expanding world population and our commitment to feed other nations, with our problem of balance of trade and imported energy, and our trend to monoculture in agriculture and forestry, what of our wildlife resources?
The developers, drainers, channelizes polluters, dam-builders and agri-businessmen are busy. Wildlife receives many promises, but few real benefits, if any. There is no shortage of problems confronting wildlife. Wildlife habitat, for game and non-game animals, is being drained, cut, tamed, stripped and re-shaped to make money. There never has been a better time in modern history for the hunter and the anti-hunter to work together, but time is running out.
I leave you with something to ponder: “When a blind man carries a lame man, both go forward.”