Life Chioices

14th October 2012


Social Talk At Cocktail Parties

We’ve all been there at one time or another when talk with a non-hunter has turned to questions about our sport. These questions are rarely nasty by nature, as most people know little about hunting and are simply inquiring out of curiosity. Because of this, sportsmen should approach these situations not as confrontations, but as opportunities to advance hunting, fishing and trapping in the eyes of others.

Last summer I spent a weekend in Columbus, Ohio, learning how to do just this. I was attending the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America’s (WLFA’s) Bowhunter Defense Coalition Workshop, at which sportsmen from around the country are instructed on how to deal with the media and combat anti-hunting efforts. I approached WLFA Executive Director Rick Story with a few questions the average hunter might be asked at a cocktail party or other social gathering.

Q Why do people have to hunt when there are other options?

A Actually, there aren’t. Hunting provides three indispensable services to conservation. First, hunters, anglers and trappers provide virtually all of the funds used by state wildlife agencies to conserve wildlife. Second, hunting helps keep wildlife populations in balance with the land’s ability to support them. Third, hunting provides wildlife professionals with information that can only be obtained through hands-on examination of large samples of animals.

Q How can you kill an innocent animal?

A How can you eat a hamburger someone else killed for you? If I just wanted to kill, I’d buy some livestock and kill them. Hunting is a lifestyle that gives me a chance to participate in nature, not just observe it.

Q If you hunt for meat, how can you hunt mountain lions, bears, prairie dogs and so on?

A Mountain lions and bears are delicious. In fact most states have laws that forbid wasting animals, which cannot be left behind.

Q If you supposedly eat the whole animal, why do you leave the head for mounting?

A Actually, the only part that’s mounted is the hide and horns or antlers. The meat from the head can be used. Hunters typically keep a trophy more to remind them of a particularly enjoyable hunt, rather than to brag about the animal to others.

Q If you hunt purely for meat, how come you hold out for big trophies instead of shooting the first legal animal you see?

A Most hunters do opt to take less-than-trophy animals. Harvest records show this. But a “trophy” is in the eye of the beholder. A hunter’s “first” or other notable animal can be more of a trophy than one that would qualify for the record books.

Q By shooting the biggest animals, aren’t you hurting the over all populations?

A No. The fact is, few of the biggest animals are taken by hunters. And by the time an animal is several years old, it has already passed its superior genes, on to enhance the population.

Besides, it is better for an older animal to be taken in such a noble fashion than for it to die of disease or starvation and be ravaged by scavengers. This way, the animal can serve to build more human appreciation for its kind.

Q Haw can you shoot females?

A Sound, scientific wildlife management depends on hunting to control the numbers of certain species. For some, taking a certain percentage of females is a good way to accomplish this. The idea is to keep the population in balance with the land’s ability to support it.

Q Aren’t fish and game departments manipulating game numbers for recreational sport hunting?

A The responsibility of wildlife agencies is to maintain the health and abundance of wildlife for the enjoyment of all. Sportsmen are allowed to take a few of the animals, and by doing so, are paying for wildlife to be enjoyed by all people.   Sportsmen have no more voice in wildlife conservation decisions than anyone else who chooses to exercise his/her voice.

A How much money do hunters really contribute to benefit wildlife?

A According to a study by the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, it’s about 80 percent of all wildlife agency funding - more than $800 million a year. The general taxpayer contributes almost nothing. Even more valuable than general tax revenues are things like interest paid on sportsmen’s finding, and agency income from land use fees, minerals, timber, crops, fines, forfeitures, commercial fishing and more.

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