January 01, 2015
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Talk to any passionate deer hunter and you will hear them say “my deer” or “our deer” pretty frequently. This isn’t when referring to deer that they have harvested or deer raised in a pen; this is commonly used in discussions about local herds roaming their property.
Whether you own 1000 acres or lease 10, you are probably guilty of calling the deer on the land “my deer” or “our deer.” Many may jump on you immediately proclaiming the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation, in that the deer belong to everyone and are not the property of any sole individual.
I’m not going to argue that. However, most do not mean it in a way where they are describing them as a possession. Rather, they are expressing their extreme passion and dedication to being stewards of their land and the wildlife on that land.
Each year, hunters spend billions of dollars creating better habitat for wildlife and protecting land which is threatened. From individual private landowners planting food plots to all hunters’ license fees going to statewide conservation, the fact is we often have the right to say that “Yes, these are our deer.”
It will come as no surprise to many of you that the world is not overwhelmingly favorable to hunting. The anti-hunting community has much greater public awareness than ours. Nearly all the marketing campaigns run by groups like PETA and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are aimed to draw non-hunters towards the anti-hunting viewpoints.
Years ago, I attended an anti-hunting meeting as an obvious hunter. Young, and probably a little cocky, I was there to disrupt their meeting – much like many of them do to legally organized hunts. But I also was there to try and lay down the facts.
When the question was brought up about how many of them bought a hunting license, the obvious response was outrage, which I of course expected. So my question to them was how many supported conservation groups in order to create better habitat and protect existing habitat that is being threatened? If memory serves me correctly, one had done some streamside cleanup and another “bought a tiger” in Asia as part of an adoption, pyramid scheme “As Seen on TV.”
So as passionate as they were, no one in the crowd was contributing to the native wildlife and habitat. Though none of them ever spoke to me again – probably didn’t before anyway – I felt that I made my point.
For years I have bought licenses in several states, planted food plots and performed habitat management on land I hunt, purchased guns and ammunition contributing to the federal Pittman-Robertson Fund for conservation of wildlife and fisheries. I’ve done my part, and will continue to as long as I’m on this Earth. Many, if not all, of you have as well.
Whether my efforts and money produces a giant white-tailed buck or serves as a home for box turtles, I’m preserving what I love, for my son and future generations.
So the next time someone talks about “my deer” or “our deer” cut them a little slack. In fact, you might want to thank them for helping preserve our love for the outdoors, and the resources many of us enjoy so much.