Just because Hunters can, do we need to?

I do everything because I hunt.

Hunters, in general, have been dedicated conservationists, and they have been the financial and vocal support for natural resource programs that have sustained many resources, including many non-game and endangered species.

Hunters have been fortunate to have had forefathers the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, J.N. “Ding” Darling, and Aldo Leopold, who helped establish systems and standards that have guided our hunting heritage.

But, that is not to say that all hunters and all hunting is right or correct.

Wisconsin is now in the midst of pressure from an out-of-state Hunter Nation that is no help to the image of hunting and hunters, just as is Ted Nugent when he appears in public as an advocate for hunting.

Let me 100% clear, Ted Nugent and Hunter Nation do NOT speak for me and I think they portray (with the constant goal of kill-kill-kill and liberalize every hunting season) the extreme worst examples of hunters as totally me-oriented!

Hunting is much more than killing, it is all about the experience of being outdoors and having a QUALITY and ethical experience.

Eliminating the requirement for new hunters to have to pass a field test demonstrating that they can handle firearms responsibly, is short-sided. Hunter education has helped to reduce hunting accidents tremendously and having someone demonstrate that they can handle a firearm, keep their finger off the trigger and point the muzzle in a safe direction should be mandatory for every new hunter.

Opening a season to hunt sandhill cranes in Wisconsin is a mistake, and will just turn more people who are non-hunters against hunting and hunters.

The vast majority of the voting population are non-hunters (which is much different than anti-hunters) who allow hunting to continue as long as it is managed professionally and with ethical behavior.

Sandhill cranes are an iconic species that have come back from near extinction and are welcomed by many. Biologists have determined that opening a hunting season will make no difference on cranes that damage farmers’ crops in the spring.

Yet, Hunter Nation and the conservative right are trying to portray these changes under the guise of being pro-hunter, pro-farmer, and being used to recruit new hunters.

We have many species to hunt in the state and opening a hunting season on cranes will do more to damage the image of hunters in the eyes of the non-hunting public.

Just because we “can” hunt sandhill cranes, does that mean that it is the right thing to hunt sandhill cranes? Will we lose more than what we gain?

Have we totally lost our compass of why we enjoy the outdoors and the fact that the natural resources are most important, and those of us who pursue the resources are secondary?

Events like contests where the person who kills the most rabbits or coyotes, sponsored by local businesses, have no business being called hunting. They should be outlawed.

Proposals such as allowing dog owners to turn their dogs loose on public lands during the nesting season, are poorly thought out. This could disturb nesting birds which are the main reason that many hunters own dogs to use for pursuing and retrieving game in the fall.

Disrupt nesting birds and there could be far fewer birds to hunt in the fall.

We put up with fenced-in deer farms, some of which are open to “hunting,” (if Wisconsin sportsmen were smart they would follow the example in Minnesota and buy out deer farms), we allow bars and organizations to host shooting contests that bring in the most coyotes or rabbits in a day and win prizes, we allow hunters to carry firearms that look like – but are not – repeating firearms that the general public considers as weapons.

I hunt with a firearm, not a weapon. Using a single shot, double barrel, over-and-under, pump action, semi-automatic firearm has worked for hundreds of years, why would we need the firearm that looks like an automatic weapon and antagonize non-hunters who are concerned about people carrying around “automatic weapons” in the fields, woods and marshes?

The phrase: “We have met the enemy and they are us,” has merit. It’s time to step back and look at ourselves, and see hunting and hunters as the general public does and return to our roots as conservationists who realize we need the support of hunters AND non-hunters alike to really preserve our traditions and manage wildlife for the future.

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