Hunting has increasingly become a contentious issue, because as with anything else, there are those who are for it, and those against. But unlike many other issues, the hatred against hunting - and hunters - is escalating due to the huge amounts of money being spent by a few people to gin up the hatred. For example, in Maine, the state with the best bear management program in the nation, the national Humane Society in Washington D.C., backed also by huge monetary resources from the likes of Mr. Bloomberg, spent many millions to convince Mainers to put an end to bear hunting. Twice they put it on the ballot. And twice they lost. But in the process, their political ads created animosity and helped convince many people that bear hunting is inhumane.
Just recently, a well-known hunter posted a picture of her kill on Facebook, and immediately began receiving death threats. I guess they think killing people is okay, but not game animals.
So, here is the problem: some people look at an issue intelligently, while others look at it emotionally. The visceral reaction from anti-hunters indicates they are making their judgements from emotion, not intellect.
This post will hopefully cast a little light on a few things that most people on BOTH sides are seemingly unaware of.
First and foremost, until recent times in the history of humans, hunting was essential for survival. If you, or someone in your family did not hunt, you simply did not eat. Hunting has always been a fact of life. Today, with markets on every corner, the need to hunt has been diminished for many, but not for all, as there are still places where the local market may be a hundred miles away (as in Alaska), and there are still people who are too poor to pay the outrageous prices in the meat section of WalMart. For those people, hunting is still essential to their survival.
Which brings up the second point - unlike people who are opposed to hunting and who get their ribeye steaks at the meat counter, hunters kill their own meat. They do their own "dirty work". And, unlike the beef or pork the non-hunter eats, the deer, moose or duck that a hunter eats has a fair chance of escaping. The cow or pig never has such a chance. Somehow, non-hunters are unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that they, too, are killing animals. Maybe they believe that their packaged meats were never alive. If you eat meat, you are killing animals. The only difference is whether or not you have the guts and the skills necessary to do your own dirty work.
Another huge point to be made is the one of conservation. Well-managed populations of game animals is necessary for the well being of the animals. If left unchecked (and un-hunted), the populations would increase to the point that many would starve to death. Non-hunters contribute nothing to managing game. But hunters pay dearly for conservation measures. The fees they pay for licenses is the money used to support conservation efforts. And the hunting, itself, is a conservation method used to keep populations in check, so animals do not starve. In fact, in areas with a shortage of hunters, both the federal and state governments have their own professional hunters.
In that regard, hunters not only pay for the management and conservation for the benefit of the animals, but also are active and unpaid participants in the necessary thinning of the populations.
Maine, again as an example, has had the best management program in the country for bears, keeping the number of animals at the optimum level where both man and animal are able to live in harmony. In contrast, New Jersey has a ban on bear hunting, and residents throughout the state are facing increased incidents of being threatened by bears, as the animals invade even the suburbs, looking for food. And that is a direct result of too many bears vying for too little food. That is what is cruel and inhumane, not hunting.
Non-hunters would do well to use their intellect rather than their emotions and realize that every time they eat packaged meat, an animal died for them. They would do well to realize that the money for conservation comes from hunters. And if they were actually thinking, instead of acting emotionally, they would realize that mankind was designed as an omnivore - being both a meat eater and a vegetation eater. Science knows this because of such things as our teeth - we have both molars and bicuspids as well as canine teeth. They also know this by the placement of our eyes - herbivores (vegetarian animals) all have their eyes on the sides of their heads, so they can see danger coming from almost any direction. Carnivores and omnivores (a prime example is the owl, or cat) all have their eyes in the front, for a greater ability to focus on the hunt.
And there are certain proteins, necessary for human health, that are only available readily from meat. I say "readily" because those proteins can be formulated by mixing certain veggies, such as corn and beans. But in meat, those proteins are already complete. Until the advent of markets on every corner, it was not always possible to obtain the right mix of veggies, which were only available in season. And in some regions (the Yukon, for example) veggies are not readily available at any time. That means Man had to eat meat. It was not an option. Strict vegetarians died in the late winter, as stores of veggies were depleted.
In short, hunting is essential if we are to conserve and preserve wild game in a world where their domain is shrinking as man encroaches. Instead of vilifying hunters, non-hunters should thank them for doing the "dirty job" that non-hunters are unwilling to do.
So, why did I give up hunting? I can afford to buy the meat I want (many cannot), and I made a decision to not kill anything I did not need to kill for either food or self-defense. But if times get tough again, I'll dust off my .270...