They have finally given in to the pressure. The World Hunting Association has finally given into the pressure of the hunting community, and has relented from using darts in their competition. Instead, the competitors will actually kill the animals. Imagine that, a hunting tournament where the competitors actually kill the animals. David Farbman, commissioner of the WHA made this statement on on their official website: “Over the past two months, we have met one-on-one with fellow hunters, major hunters’ rights organizations, industry leaders and top outdoor journalists from all over the country to gain their perspectives. Consistently, their major concerns centered on the proposed use of non-fatal darting,” said Farbman. The WHA is committed to growing the sport of hunting and increasing participation among youth, women and minority groups. We regret that the darting format upset other individuals with those same goals,” said Farbman. “The WHA is made up of longtime hunters who are incredibly passionate about the sport. Everyone associated with WHA wants what is best for hunting. We feel confident we are now on the right path.”
I think this is definitely think this is a step in the right direction, but there are still at least a couple of issues that need to be addressed. The first is that the first leg of the competition is to be held at the Lost Arrow Ranch in Gladwin, Michigan. The problem with this is that the Lost Arrow ranch is a mere 1000 acres, and it is high fenced. That may sound like a lot of room, but with so many competitors hunting the region, the deer certainly do not have a “sporting chance”. I for one will never be willing to accept the idea of killing deer on such small parcels of fenced land as real hunting. Pen the deer up in a small pen, and anyone should be able to kill the deer!
Another problem is the paying out of cash prizes to the winners. I know that the prize money structure has worked well for the BASS tournaments, but there is a far different perception of fishing than there is of hunting. I am not sure that I will ever be able to accept such a cash prize structure for a hunting situation. Such a prize seems to cheapen the animal that was slain, and discourage good management practices. Of course, there have been many other things that have happened that have discouraged good management practices as well. There are still those in the area that I hunt that do not believe in shooting does. They will, however shoot as many bucks as they can lay their scobe on. Others have been led to believe, often by modern hunting publications, that anyting short of a monster buck is unacceptable. But, then, that is a sidetrack…maybe I can post more on that later.
I don’t know if the WHA will ever get their plan in order with what hunters will accept. I believe they have a long way to go. They are showing promise. They at least came around to understanding that their Association was doomed if they did not make some changes. Perhaps they will wake up, and bring this project into lines that will be at least tolerable to true sportsmen. The sad part of the whole thing is that they have been so slow in responding to the obvious outrage of those who should be their primary audience. It may be that they have alienated us to the point they will never get us back!
Ok, here is an issue that is causing quite the uproar in the hunting community. David Farbman has developed a plan to have a World Hunting Association, which is mimicking professional Bass tours. The idea is to have competitions between two teams, who are trying to “kill” the biggest deer. Why the quotations around “kill”? Because they want to only dart the deer, tranquelizing them instead of killing them. Thus, they are able to “catch and release” these deer. The idea is that they will not cause any harm to the deer. Unfortunately, that which is good in theory, is not always good in reality.
At first glance, this may sound like a good idea. Some may believe that this will bring some good press to the sport of hunting. After all, if the greatest complaint against hunting is that you kill an animal, then if you take that out, there is no further complaint. However, that is not really a rational argument. Do you really think that animal rights proponents will accept this farce as an acceptable compromise for hunting? In truth, this is only one step away from abolishing all hunting. Think about it…if you can just dart a deer, and then let it go, you don’t really need to hunt at all! And, they will certainly argue that you are humiliating this poor deer. And, after all, this is just not natural! If this is an effort to bring “anti-hunters” into the fold, don’t hold your breath. There is no acceptable compromise out there. These people will only be satisfied with an abolishment of hunting!
So, if this is not going to help the hunter’s image among non-hunters or anti-hunters. then what is the purpose? It seems to me that the only purpose of this organization is to make money off of hunters. After all, there is a lot of money on the Bass Fishing Tours. Surely, if we can turn this into a comparable organization, there will be a lot of money. Farbman, on his website, states this as the purpose of the association: “The World Hunting Association is committed to promoting and growing hunting around the world. This will be achieved by showcasing the skills, techniques and determination of hunters and by launching education, recruiting and charitable programs to increas understanding and participation.” Now, I may be naieve, but don’t you have to be hunting to promote hunting, or recruit people into hunting? In fact, could this idea not be done in such a way that animals are harvested? Wait a minute, that has already been done. A couple of times in fact. Mark and Terry Drury have put together a good show that I have enjoyed, showing a competition between two teams who try to provide the best habitat, and thus the best hunting spot…they see who can kill the nicest buck over the best food plot and off of the best stand. There was another good show on, that had various teams of hunters who competed to film the best hunts. Unfortunately, my memory fails me and I can’t think of what that show was called. I enjoyed both of these shows. But, to take the kill out of the show simply makes it a game of hide and seek!
There are some other problems that I see with this idea. First, all “hunting” must be done in a high fence enclosure. The darting of deer in the wild is illegal (I believe) in every state. This is a practice that has been used only for research, and in some cases for purposes such as transplanting deer to help boost the herd in a particular place. Such practices are always supervised by wildlife biologists and veterinarians to ensure the health of these deer. If my understanding is correct, there will be both biologists and veterinarians present during these hunts to ensure the deer are not harmed. If that is not making a mockery of the tradition and sport of hunting as we know it, I certainly don’t know what is!
It is interesting to me that so many companies have rejected sponsoring this fiasco. Names such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and Easton have rejected sponsorship. Early on, the WHA announced that Easton would be sponsoring them, but this was inaccurate. According to Outdoor Life Magazine, when it was released that Easton would sponsor this, their phones were flooded by their customers, complaining about such a partnership. They immediately cut off discussions with the WHA to form this partnership. I for one, applaud their choice!
I am sure there are many other problems with this proposal. I hope that this is something that will not continue very long! We as hunters have a proud tradition, and this sullies that tradition. We need to bring more people into the sport, but this is not the way to do it. We need to teach our children, and teach those that have not had an opportunity to learn the great benefits that come from hunting. There is a camaraderie that is formed between companions that will last a life time! There is a respect for the animal that is just not there in this new farce. Let’s be proud of our heritage!
EDIT: You might be interested in this–Mike Hanback has posted about this same subject on his blog!