Saturday, March 25, 2006

This Is Why We Hunt

Welcome to Pittsford, a suburb just south of Rochester, New York. I live on a little less than an acre, in an area with many pockets of woods interspersed between the single family homes and subdivisions. Deer are everywhere, and after an easy winter they are very healthy. This doe is an old friend who had two fawns last spring in the small patch of woods behind our back yard. We've seen them often during the past ten months, and when they visited us this morning I took this picture after walking to about 35 feet of her. Her two fawns were close by.

Unfortunately, many deer are killed by cars each year in Pittsford, causing human injuries and major financial losses. Also, it's impossible to have a nice flower garden because the deer eat most annuals as soon as they grow just a few inches tall. In other words, these cute deer are a real nuisance...a few are nice, but a lot are a big problem.

About four years ago I decided to hunt again after a break of at least ten years. The deer population was out of control, and many deer were starving when we had hard winters. The hungry deer ate every bush they could find - even hollies and evergreens are regarded as "dinner" by starving deer. It was sad to see them trying to traverse through deep, crusty snow. I decided that hunting them was the only way to thin the herd to a reasonable level.

Since that time I've killed about seven deer in a pretty quick and humane manner. Several of the carcasses went to a local food cupboard and provided venision burgers for the homeless. Others went to land owners where I hunted, and the remainer went into my freezer where they became spagetti sauce and venison stew. Despite my predations the deer population is more than robust here. We need more hunters! Sadly, the hunter population is decreasing rapidly because new hunters are not replacing those who are now too old to hunt.

It's hard to believe that a human activity like "hunting for food" can decline so quickly after hundreds of thousands of years when it was a normal part of many people's lives. The modern era, with its mass-produced food, has removed the average person from contact with nature and the ways man has interacted with it throughout our history. I, for one, hope that it once again becomes appropriate for people to harvest plentiful animals for food and for the experience of stalking them in their native environment. Quite a statement for an anti-Bush liberal to make, but - everyone's got the right to create their own blend of what is right and wrong! Posted by Picasa

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