Archive for the ‘Hunting Controversy’ Category

Real Hunting?

Monday, February 16th, 2009

One of the first posts that I ever did here on Jake’s Outdoors was about the World Hunt Organization. Back in 2006, this company started a “catch and release” deer hunting campaign. They were trying to start a tournament like environment, comparing it to the Bass Pro fishing type circuits. The idea was that the deer would be darted with tranquilizers instead of being shot with a bow or gun.

At that time, there was a huge uproar over this concept.  In fact, it was so problematic that outdoorsmen were calling for sponsors to withdraw their support of anything that had to do with the WHO.  These anti catch and release campaigns were quite successful, causing most if not all of the sponsors to withdraw their support of the project.  Of course, with no financial support, the whole project crashed.

I thought that the whole idea of “catch and release” hunting was terrible.  I was very happy to see the whole thing crash and burn.  So, imagine my surprise as I was watching the Outdoor Channel (one of my favorite channels, of course) last night only to see a relatively new show showcasing a hunt that was very similar to this idea from 2006.  Only now, it was called a “green hunt”.  She Safari’s Beyond the Lodge featured a White Rhino hunt that was a dart hunt, rather than a true hunt.  The justification was that the huntress would be followed by a veterinary crew, who would collect some scientific data off of the rhino, before waking it up and sending it on its way.

Quite frankly, I do not see any difference in this than the original idea 3 years ago.  This makes it a sport to dart animals for fun.  I believe that the scientific data is important, but if we are truly going to be conservationists, I think that we need to distinguish between the conservation efforts and our sport of hunting.  I realize that there is an element of conservation in our hunting.  However, when we are going to fight for animals, especially those who are truly endangered, we need to make sure that people see us as being a true element of the conservation.  Think about it.  Making the darting and scientific collection of data a sport makes it appear that there is nothing more important to us than getting an animal on the ground.  Perhaps that is true for some, but I hope for the bulk of us hunting is much deeper than that.

Maybe I am wrong on this.  But, how could this cause such outrage 3 years ago, and be virtually overlooked now?  Are the subtle differences enough to get a pass on it this time around?  Is doing it in Africa on endangered animals more acceptable than doing it in the US on the common white tailed deer?

One of the things that aggravated me about the show was that they made a point of saying that they were going to do it in the most difficult, and potentially dangerous way.  They were going to put the dart on the end of an arrow and attempt to shoot the rhino from close range.  So, what was the point here?  Scientific data collection?  Then why not use the typical dart gun?  Sport?  Then why endanger both the hunting party, the medical crew and the rhino?  This was all about exciting TV (which is understandable).   However, I’m not sure what this type of “green hunt” does for the image of hunting in general.

I must admit, as I watched the show last night, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I see this as an opportunity for anti-hunters to jump on those of us who are ethical hunters.  After all, if they can hunt like this in Africa, why not here?  Why not hunt like this all of the time?  Just dart an animal, take a few pics, and send the animal on its happy way.

I’m anxious to hear your input on this subject.  I have a feeling there may be some disagreement here.  That is ok.  If I’m being too harsh, feel free to let me know.  If I’m missing something here, as to why this is so drastically different than the original WHO proposals, show me why.  Are you for this type of “green hunt” or not?

Hunting Success, or Failure?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

OK, here is an issue that I am kind of torn on.  In some ways, it is obviously good, but in other ways, I am afraid that it sends the wrong message, and sets a unwise precedent.  In Utah, the state held an auction for statewide tags for several different species.  The one that drew the most attention was a Mule Deer tag, which would make it possible for the winner to hunt in a unit that is very restricted, and yet known for huge deer.  The winning bidder, Robert Kay, paid a whopping $205,000 for the tag.  Tags specific to the Henry Mountains sold for $90,000 and $87,000 respectively.  There were several other tags that were also sold, including Mountain Big Horn Sheep, and Moose.  Both went for an exorbitant amount of money!  To see more info, check out this article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Here is what I see as the two sides of the issue.  First, the good side.  This money will be put to good use, invested in the wildlife of Utah.  This is indicative of how concerned (at leas I like to think so) hunters are for the wildlife that they hunt.  Consider what Mr. Kay had to say about purchasing his tag:

“I bid only because the mule deer need help and that is exactly what this permit does,” said Kay, 54, a lifelong Utah resident. “I hunt every year, but I haven’t shot a deer in five years. I love to see the animals; the record books don’t mean anything to me.”

Mr. Kay obviously wanted to give his money to help the mule deer population.  There are certainly not any anti-hunters lining up to donate over $200,000 of their own money to help the mule deer.  I am sure that the money will be put to good use for the state, and I hope that the state will make wise choices for the use of the money.  They have in fact raised some $17 million over the last 10 years, 90% of which has gone straight back into the wildlife program.   So, all of this points to this being a good program, raising a lot of money for conservation.

Now, the bad.  It seems to me that this type of practice is taking us down a path that we really don’t want to go down.  Hunting is becoming a sport of the rich world wide.  You have to be wealthy to hunt in many of the great places around the world.  That idea seems to be spreading through the US as well–primarily in western states.  Land for hunting is harder to find, and tags are becoming more expensive.  Many states already have implemented lottery systems where you have to hope that you get a tag.  Even “over the counter” tags are going up in price.  I know that our tags here in WV have doubled over the last 3 years.  Before long, it will be a sport of the rich right here in the USA.  It is no wonder that many young people are not choosing the hunting lifestyle–they can’t afford to get involved!  By the way, if our new president has his way, this will only get worse, as the price of guns, and ammunition will skyrocket.

If it catches on that the extremely rich will pay these huge prices for tags, then those of  us who simply do not have the funds will be “iced out” of the prime hunting locations.  Private ranches have already closed their borders, and charge a huge amount for the right to hunt on their land.  Combine these two elements, and most of us won’t be able to hunt.  So, from that standpoint, it bothers me that these tags are being auctioned at such high prices.

So, what do you think?  Is this a good idea, or will it cause greater problems for those of us who are “normal hunters” down the road?

Final Note On The Howard County Safety Zone Issue

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I think this will be the final post on this issue.  I am happy to say that it appears that the Howard County Council has listened to concerns from hunters and outdoorsmen in crafting the new legislation for the safety zone issue that arose there last year.  Most of the new law seems to me to be clarification of laws that were already on the books, and quantifies the punishment for those who would violate the safety zone laws.  I am glad that they chose to remove all of the language from the new bill which was very anti-hunting.  I am sure that there are many on that side of the fence that are very upset with the bill in its final state.

Greg Fox, one of the county councilmen, has been very gracious in providing me with information on this issue over the last few weeks.  Today, his office sent links to the final form of the bill.  Take a look at these links, and let me know what you think.  If I’ve missed something here, fill me in.  However, this looks like a very good solution to the problem at hand.

  1. The Bill
  2. Amendment 1
  3. Amendment 2 to Amendment 1

The Howard County Safety Zone Issue…

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but I just received a response from Mr. Greg Fox of the Howard County Council.  This is the second response I received, but this one is quite substantial and seems to be well thought out.  It appears that the change in language in the bill is much better now than it was previously.  Here is Mr. Fox’s response:

That is fine that you are not one of my constituents.  I can sure you the max range issue will be addressed.  Please read my updated standard reply:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns on CB1-2009.  I can assure you that I have been reviewing both your comments as well as those of other hunters.  I take your concerns very seriously.

At this point, I have spoken to a number of hunters one-on-one as well as discussions with DNR and others.  In addition, I have had two meetings with groups of hunters along with Councilwoman Sigaty.  Working together with other councilmembers, I/we plan on introducing amendments that should alleviate many of the concerns of hunters and others regarding the potential impact of the bill on hunting and deer management efforts while trying to address the fears of other parts of the community.  I believe that there will be support for the amendments from both councilmembers and the executive’s office.

I would also like to provide some additional background on the situation that might help alleviate some concerns as well as provide some foundation for additional discussions.  First, as someone who has been broadsided by a deer while driving in my neighborhood and whose wife suffered for 3 years with Lyme disease, I know first hand the effects of the deer over population.  Second, I don’t believe that it was the intent of the County Executive to effectively ban hunting when the legislation was drafted as I believe he understands the problems with the deer over population. Again, his administration, as well as other councilmembers, has assured me that they are open to any and all amendments and alternatives.

While I was not involved in the actual drafting of the bill, I did provide some level of input in the process as I was concerned that it might be even farther reaching.  The administration did listen to some of my concerns and attempted to incorporated them into the bill such as making sure that the use of shot for bird hunting would not be impacted and the consideration of the use of a deer stand to mitigate some of the distance concerns.  From my initial conversations with hunters, it was believed that this might be a workable solution with some minor tweaks.  This is the key area that still needs discussion from all parties.  As of now, I will be proposing the following and believe that there is support in this direction:
That the current 150 yards remains in place and whenever a person discharges a gun, the person shall:
1)    Ensure that the projectile has a downward trajectory;
2)    Be in a stand or otherwise elevate above the target; OR
3)    Ensure that the projectile has an adequate backdrop (might need to fine tune the language); OR
4)    Use a shotgun that contains only shot.
We are hoping the focus of the hearing will revolve around this portion of the bill and any suggestions are welcome.

The issue of the 10 acres in the non-Metropolitan district was something that was added towards the end and something which I told the administration up front that I could not support.  In subsequent conversations with the administration and a number of other councilmembers, I can assure you that this provision will be removed if anything is passed. However, it should be noted that the 10 acres was not intended (nor worded) to be a 10 acre parcel and that the current law require 150 yard radius is in effect nearly 15 acres of land (not parcel).

Finally, the issue of the nebulous language about how far ammunition MIGHT travel was something that I was not aware of until after the bill was filed.  In hindsight, the administration has told me that it realizes that this would be tough to enforce.  Based on that and a number of the e-mails I have received from hunters’ suggesting that a fine would be appropriate in certain circumstances, I have proposed changing the language accordingly.  Basically, if you damage any facility or  as outlined in the current bill or personal property, including pets and livestock, you would be fined up to $1000, a Class A offense (the maximum allowed under Howard County Law). The language in the original bill discussing IF you could hit a structure would be removed. I believe the removal of the old language and insertion of a fine has near unanimous support.

You are welcome to come out and testify on Wednesday, January 21 at the Board of Education building at 7:30.  I hope we can count on your support for the AMENDED bill.  Again any thoughts on how we can provide improvements to the safety of the community without impacting the ability to hunt, especially deer, would be greatly appreciated.  Additionally, I would love to hear suggestions on how we could improve the management of our deer population whether through extended seasons, increasing the managed hunt or any other ideas that you might have.

If you are unavailable to attend and would still like to talk to me, feel free to e-mail me or to call me on my mobile phone at 410-446-5673.  If I do not answer, please leave your name, number and a good time to reach you.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Still listening and respectfully yours,

Greg Fox

The council meeting is tomorrow, so I am hoping to be able to find how it goes, and whether this measure passes or not.  I’ll try to keep you posted!

Contact the Howard County Council

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Ok guys (and gals), Arthur asked for contact information for the Howard County Council.  If you want to contact the County Council for the purpose of speaking out against the new safety zone regulations, you can contact them either by regular mail, or by email.  You are running out of time to use regular mail, as the Council Meeting will be next Wednesday.

The mailing address is:

Howard County Council
George Howard Building
3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

To contact them by email:  councilmail@howardcountymd.gov

You can also contact the County Executive by CLICKING HERE.

I don’t know how much good it will do to contact these guys as we are not in their district, but it certainly cannot hurt.  If nothing else, it can get us some practice for when this does hit a bit closer to home.  If you are out there, and live in Maryland, especially in Howard County, make sure to contact the council, and let them know that you do not support this type of change!  I live in a state that is boardering Maryland, so I fear this is coming faster than we would like!

EDIT:  Here is the letter that I am sending to the County Executive concerning this issue.  I believe I will copy it to the council as well.

Dear Sir,
I realize that I am not one of your constituents, but I am still writing to you concerning the new Safety Zone Regulations that are under consideration in Howard County Maryland.  As a an avid (and safe) hunter/outdoorsman, I wanted to speak out on behalf of my fellow hunters in the state of Maryland.

The new Safety Zone Regulations under consideration are devised with good intentions I am sure.  However, some of the elements will ensure that hunting with any type of firearm will be made illegal.  As you are probably aware, some firearms have a maximum range of over 2 miles.  If it is true that “hunters also would be barred from firing a gun in the direction of any building if it is within the maximum range of the weapon being fired” then hunters could not hunt within two miles (or more) of a neighboring property.

I realize that I may not know all that is included in the bill that is under consideration.  I only know what I have been able to read in various news sources.  This bill, however, (at least as it has been reported) would take thousands of acres away from hunters to enjoy their sport, and it would infringe on the rights of property owners to use their land as they would like.

I hope that Maryland hunters will stand up for their rights, and that you will see many at the upcoming County Council Meeting.  Please consider the impact such a bill would have on the law abiding, and safety minded hunters that take to the woods every fall.  There are far more safe hunters than those who are careless.

Thanks for your consideration!

Kris Brewer
www.jakesoutdoors.com

The Challenge Continues: Suburban Hunting

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

No Hunting!When I started this thread a few days ago, I never thought it would lead me to where I am today.  I thought it was a challenge that would certainly affect some hunters, but it seems that the concept is steamrolling, especially in Maryland, and will be causing significant problems for hunters if it is not stopped.  I am speaking of the proposal to change the safety zone for hunting to the “maximum range of a legal firearm” as I reported in my last post.

It seems that more reasonable heads have not prevailed, and this is an issue that will be taken up in a County Council public hearing next week.  An article published on theviewnewspapers.com reports that the NRA is urging residents to fight against the proposal that will be taken up next week.  Essentially, the County Council has proposed that it be made illegal to shoot in the direction of a building that is within the maximum range of a weapon.  As I outlined before, this would essentially make it illegal to hunt in most areas of the county, as many firearms (shotguns and muzzleloaders in Maryland) have a maximum range of 2 miles or more.

The proposed bill would extend the current safty zone from 150 yards to 300 yards, and would make the stipulation that is stated above–no shooting toward a structure from a distance shorter than the maximum range of the weapon in use.

It appears that this bill has really got its legs under it.  It has vast support on the County Council.  According to the article linked above, the County Executive, Kenneth Ulman, is in favor of the measure and 4 of the 5 County Council members co-sponsored the bill.

This is, as the NRA has stated, a knee jerk reaction to an isolated incident in the county during hunting season.  A day care center had a window shattered by a hunter’s bullet.  Essentially, the County Council is now trying to make restrictions that will protect everyone against this unsafe condition.  The problem is, you can’t really legislate stupidity!  Think about it.  If this hunter was so unsafe as to shoot through a window of a day care center, how is changing the law going to help him?  Obviously, he was already violating some law, as he was cited for “negligent hunting.”

Much of this issue has been extended by anti-hunters jumping on board.  I have seen articles (can’t remember where at the moment) where some have complained simply because they heard guns being fired during season.  They argued that if they could hear the shots, the hunters were too close to their homes or properties.  As any outdoorsman knows, you can hear a gun shot from several miles away given the right conditions!  Will this be next?  No hunting within the maximum audible range of your weapon?  I know that sounds ridiculous, but when I wrote the first post in this thread, I thought “maximum range” laws were ridiculous!

So far, this issue is being fought out in one county of Maryland.  But, if it passes there, we can all be sure that it will be in our backyards next.  If this continues, there will be thousands upon thousands of acres that will be declared as being “unhuntable” due to being in a safety zone.  This could be the most powerful tool that anti-hunters have had in a generation.  If this measure is successful, you can bet that they will start using it nation wide.  It should be intersting to see just how far this gets, and how long it takes to get to our neck of the woods.

This is a continuing reminder that we must work hard to be safe, so that we don’t give opportunity to those that would take our hunting traditions away from us.

Suburban Hunting: Follow Up

Monday, January 12th, 2009

A few days ago, I wrote a post that had to do with suburban hunting.  I wrote about how such close hunting often brings non-hunters, and hunters into close quarters with one another.  One thing I didn’t really address was how anti-hunters could use this controversy to their advantage.  Well, I found a “letter to the editor” from an anti-hunter (the VP of Animal Action Inc.) who is trying to use this issue to put an end to all hunting.

This letter, published in the Baltimore Sun, calls for the “Safety Zone” to be expanded to the effective range of any fire arm.  Consider this quote:

We need to enact an effective, enforceable law that provides a single safety zone based on the maximum range of allowed weapons.

And the range required must be from the hunter to the edge of adjacent properties – not to a home or building.

If the buffer zone is measured to the home or building, as it is under current law, children playing in their own yard could be in great danger.

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am all for safety.  I am extremely cautious with a firearm, as are all the people that I hunt with.  In fact, if anyone were to mishandle a firearm in our group, they would never be invited to hunt with us again.   That being said, this plan proposed for a “single safety zone based on the maximum range of allowed weapons” is nothing more than a plan to put an end to all hunting.  Consider that the “maximum range” of a firearm can be in the ballpark of several miles!  Granted, the author is probably addressing a law that is present in the Baltimore area, and therefore is restricted to shotguns, but the maximum range could still be well over a half mile!

Also, notice that this author wants the law to be changed to be measured to “the edge of adjacent properties”, not buildings or structures.  Imagine the impact of something like that.  If your neighbor has 200 acres, you would not be permitted to hunt within the “maximum range of allowed weapons” from his property line.  That puts  you at least a half mile from the closest adjoining boundary to your hunting area.  I am sure that you can see how this would effectively put an end to “small plot” hunting all together.  The only places that would be open to hunting would be large tracts of land (several thousand acres, in one tract).  How many of us would be able to hunt at all if that were the case?

I know if I consider the property that we hunt, there wouldn’t be any of it that would fall into “huntable property” if this suggestion were to be enacted into law.  Hunting with high-power rifles means that we have a “maximum range” much longer than most people realize, or want to think about.  However, if we handle them responsibly, there is no danger to anyone in the homes that surround the property that we hunt.  Not to mention the fact that there is a mountain between almost all of our stands and the homes that are in the general area.  You see, that would make no difference to person who suggested this…because it is not really about safety at all.  But, then again, if you want to get something done for your “cause”, just do it “for the sake of the children”!

I don’t really see something like this coming to fruition.  However, it is not unheard of for legislators to step in and try to make laws concerning things they know nothing about.  I hope that it doesn’t sound like a good idea to some Senator, who tries to ramrod it through the Maryland state congress.  But, then again, there are those who have decided that making every bullet traceable is a good idea.  So, let’s hope those nuts are still outnumbered by the rational.

Albino Deer Question

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I came across an interesting piece of information while looking at deer regulations in the state of Tennessee.  I am not sure how many folks out there are residents of Tennessee, or hunt there, but I thought this was a bit odd.  It appears that it is illegal to kill an albino deer in the state.  According to the DNR website:

Hunting, trapping, or possession of albino deer is prohibited as set forth in TCA Chapter 70-4-130. An albino deer is a deer with a lack, or significant deficiency, of pigment in the skin and hair, and has pink eyes.

I know that there are many different opinions about shooting albino deer.  My own personal belief is that they should be legal, just like any other deer.  I realize they are rare, but most of the time albino deer do not survive long in the wild, even when they are “off limits” to hunters.  They are more susceptible to predators than are their normal colored brothers.

While doing some quick research for a good picture of an albino deer to link into this post, I came across a post on Stabley Outdoors (a blog I just discovered!).  Last January, John posted about an albino buck taken by crossbow in the state of Ohio.  Here is a picture of that buck:

That is one beautiful deer.  I know many (obviously the state of of Tennessee with them) think that animals like this need to be protected from hunters.  But, the truth of the matter is that albinism is a recessive trait that only causes harm overall to the deer herd.  So, while it is a beautiful animal, it will not help the health or vitality of the herd as a whole.

Well, that is my take on it.  Let me know what you think.  Should states make it illegal to kill albino animals?  Or should they be considered a great trophy for hunters?  Let me know what you think!


[AffomaticEbay]albino[/AffomaticEbay]

Gathering Opinions on Crossbows…

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I hope you all will be willing to share with me your opinions, and I know (or at least hope) that you will have varying positions.  I am working on an article on hunting with crossbows, and would like to know what you all think.  Here in WV, it is illegal to hunt with a crossbow, unless you are handicapped in some way and cannot use “traditional” archery tackle.  Right across the river in Ohio, it is perfectly legal to hunt with crossbows.  I know the debate on this issue has heated up in some states, so I’d like to see the pros and cons of the arguments.  So, if you will, answer for me the following questions in a comment at the end of the post:

  1. What state do you hunt in?
  2. Are crossbows legal, in any form or under any conditions?
  3. Do you think it should be legal to hunt with crossbows during the general archery season?

Feel free to expound on any of the questions, and give me a good argument for or against the practice.  I look forward to hearing from you all!

Thanks in advance for your opinions.  I’ll be sure to link my article when it is published so that you can see my opinion on the matter.  I have my ideas formulated, but this is your chance to change my mind!

Wolves Re-Listed (Temporarily) by Judge

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

According to an Associated Press Article, environmentalists have sued to get their way in a Montana court. A federal judge, Donald Molloy granted a temporary injunction to restore the wolves’ earlier classification as “endangered”, which will cancel the planned hunting seasons in 3 states this fall. He will be making a decision shortly as to whether the injunction will become permanent. Based on what he has already said, it seems likely that this judge will side with the environmentalists, and re-list the wolves, contrary to the recommendation of the federal and state biologists and wildlife agencies.

I don’t live in the west, and I don’t know first hand what is going on with the wolves. However, I am always leery when I hear that one group or another has to get its way by suing in the court system. The wildlife agencies are best equipped (at least in most cases) to make sound judgments concerning the populations of the various species, and they are equipped to decide what needs to be done to control the populations. There was plenty of evidence to support de-listing the wolves, but those who are against ALL hunting are having their way with this species by taking it to the courts.

The fear I have in all of this is that if they can gain such power to control what does or does not happen with the wolves, what will keep them from taking the next step and extending that power to other game species? The answer is: nothing! Anti-hunters have used the court systems to stop hunting for years, and they will continue to do it as long as they can find a sympathetic judge, who thinks that he (or she) knows better than the biologists on the ground.

This is another example of judges trying to legislate from the bench, and it is just plain wrong. This judge was not enforcing law, he was writing it.

Maybe those of you who are closer to the issue can chime in here, and let me know what you think of this decision. Those of you who are not affected by this particular decision, let me know how you would react if this judge allowed environmentalists to stand in the way of your hunting. I know this has happened recently in some norther states (with dove hunting), and I believe in New Jersey with bear hunting. That’s getting a little closer to home for me!

EDIT:  After publishing this, I found that Tom over at the Black Bear Blog has an excellent post on the same subject.  If you haven’t seen it, head over there and take a gander!