For those of you with little time, here is a synopsis:
“Over the past five years, despite declining numbers of hunters, contributions of venison to food banks and soup-kitchens have increased dramatically. Last year alone 30 percent more game meat was donated. At least 26 States have programs for the donation of unused venison to soup-kitchens and food distribution center. These centers suffer chronically from lack of meat. (Detailed info on soup-kitchens today is here.)
An organization of hunters and farmers in Maryland saw donations rise from about 170,000 in 2003 to over 280,000 pounds last year. In Georgia a similar organization expects to serve its one-millionth meal in November. Texas and Virginia are not far behind.
White-tail deer, for example, are abundant in Georgia. Bag limits per hunter therefore rose from 3 to 12 deer per season in the last 20 years. Less than 1 percent of hunters in Georgia take more than 10 dear.
(Read about the economics of deer hunting.)
On the other hand, the number of hunters dropped by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006. Only 12.5 million hunters are now faced with the task to keep the abundant dear populations lower than at present and healthy.”
Despite their diminished status in society, hunters and hunting still affect our modern society in positive and constructive ways. This influence goes beyond the substantial financial contributions hunters make in the form of license fees, through the purchase of ammunition, hunting gear and the use of services offered by the service industry. Hunting clearly has beneficial effects on wildlife populations and their overall health. Just listen to what ranchers and farmers have to say in areas that suffer from an over- abundance of Miss Piggy and Bambi.
Unfortunately, animal rights activists are much better organized than hunters. They have more active and better public relations operations. They oppose hunting vehemently, particularly any hunting that violates in their view the “fair chase principle”. While I agree with them on some of the most egregious violations of that principle, I disagree just as strongly with them when they declare hunting as intrinsically evil. I do not want to be called evil!
Some animal rights activists take it to the extreme. They sustain their life by becoming vegetarians. I am asking you: “How do you apply ‘the fair chase principle’ to plants? They surely cannot run away! Yet, they are living things just like wildlife, aren’t they?
Hunters have too many diverging interests. Just consider the range from extreme trophy hunting to subsidy hunting and wild boar ‘harvesting’ just because “the pigs cause so much damage”. This makes it very difficult for hunting interests to congeal into a strong, unified organization of hunters that could promote hunting and explain the numerous beneficial effects of hunting on wildlife, the environment and society.
Personally, I do not consider the NRA a good representative of hunting because of the many extreme and controversial positions they have taken with respect to guns and gun control. Other hunting organizations such as, for example, the Safari Club and the American Hunters and Shooters Association, lack stature because they promote single causes and special interests within the wide field of hunting.
Hunters generally still enjoy prestige and stature with the overwhelming majority of Americans. But this positive image is slowly eroding. Hunters could soon be only one small step removed from sinister characters said to be roaming the woods at night, AK-47 in hand and terror in the mind.
It is high time for hunters to close ranks behind a well-organized representation. It should be unencumbered by baggage from the past. It must represent the interests of all hunters equally well.
It faces a daunting task: To convince a skeptical public that, in the absence of our great predators, hunters are called upon in the interest of all to establish, maintain and guarantee a healthy balance between wildlife and the rest of nature.
As such they are not blood-thirsty, wanton killers but rather guardians of a healthier wildlife.
But where is this organization?