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Posts Tagged ‘PETA’

Your mother doesn’t live here. Clean up after yourself.

Way back in the deepest recess of your formerly-adolescent mind, you heard that cliché in reference to your bedroom. Below the Farrah Fawcett poster, amongst the model cars (or maybe an X Box) was your dirty laundry. Or a pizza box, unfinished homework, candy wrappers or more likely all of the above.

DSCF0017But today it’s your spent shotgun shells on the ground.

Just like dirty socks in as a kid, you left them where they fell. Just a couple, forgotten in the excitement of a covey flush … or a double on jinking bobwhites (yes!).

No big deal. Until the birders visit next spring and surmise that all hunters are slobs. Or the local PETA chapter on their summer solstice drumming-and-sweat-lodge outing. Then, those empty hulls are just garbage.
Trash. And hunters are too, damned by the bright, shiny evidence shouting to the world that we are all gun-toting yahoos without regard for anyone or anything else, including our environment. Our coverts.

Those empties are no longer plastic and brass. They are an embarrassment to sportsmen – a condemnation of every one of us, a glinting example of our carelessness and disregard for others.

I’m reminded of a sign I saw above a locker-room door years ago: Our reputation depends on you, me, and us.
How about a more selfish reason: piles of shucked ammo show me where your honey hole is. And another: common courtesy. You wouldn’t be invited to his next barbecue if you dumped crap in your neighbor’s yard. Why dump it in our collective yard? Fellow hunters are your neighbors on public lands.

We have enough challenges: to the Second Amendment, finding ammo, continued access to public land, dogs that forget their training. And while we can’t sway rabid anti-hunters, we have plenty of chances to keep the non-hunting public on our side. The ones who vote, and stand up at public meetings. The folks who write letters to the editor and testify at game and fish department hearings.

So pick up your trash and someone else’s. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Your choice.

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_09B7155Do you want to be the last bird hunter?

I love pulling up to a promising covert and finding nobody else parked there. So do you. To know with confidence that you’ll be the first – possibly only – one to hunt a field that week, immeasurable.

We all long for untrammeled ground … “first tracks” to use a ski analogy, when we open the tailgate and let the dogs out. Who doesn’t want to believe the birds are plentiful and naïve, will hold for our dogs, fly high and slow when we walk them up?

But what if that was always the case? What if you never saw another soul in the woods or on the prairie, because you were the last bird hunter?

Someone is fervently hoping it will come true, that they’ll be the last to inhabit this “ideal” world and be the only ones, getting all the shots, finding no footprints.

I wouldn’t want to hunt with him.

But we may all see a situation almost this dire in our lifetime, if you believe the pessimists in our midst. If you read the magazines or are a member of an upland conservation group, you know our fraternity is at risk of extinction. There are fewer new hunters coming on and more going out, usually by dying. We are an aging population, we bird hunters. And too many of us are a tad too selfish – relishing the situation described above – to bring on the next generation of uplanders.

Okay, maybe not selfish, but defeated, discouraged, disillusioned. I can’t blame them.

The almighty dollar usually trumps CRP payments and conservation easements. Ethanol is a wicked competitor, fueling the plowing of marginal ground for a few more bushels of corn. Deer hunters waving dollar bills will keep grouse hunters off a lease; the price of ammo will stop a 16-year-old from picking up a shotgun, as will a PETA lecture in kindergarten. The pressure of peers who don’t hunt, lack of a father figure, onerous regulation of gun ownership and even ammo restrictions have thinned our ranks. Bird populations are devastated by blizzard or drought, or nesting habitat is mowed early for another cutting of alfalfa.

The “barriers to entry” as statisticians call them, are numerous. But none are insurmountable. Unless you’re selfish. Or a quitter. Or brain-dead.

Why bother taking a friend, kid, spouse hunting? What do you get in return? Here’s my list … you can probably come up with more reasons:

New hunters’ license dollars fund management of habitat and game populations. Your neighbors, PETA members, and the Defenders of Wildlife might talk a good game, but only hunters put their money where their mouths are. When license money evaporates, don’t look to taxpayers to pick up the slack. So unless you plan to quit hunting the very day your state outlaws it, every new recruit ensures access and a modicum of managed game to chase.

New hunters are fresh and energetic, ready to pick up the banner and fight for conservation. We all burn out, and without new troops joining the battle against habitat destruction, the front lines will collapse. Oil companies and wind energy syndicates will claim victory.

New shotgunners who understand scientific game management can advocate for it among their non-hunting, anti-gun peers. Sensational claims by the anti-hunting cabal are best countered with cold, hard facts related by knowledgeable outdoors enthusiasts.

Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. That includes gun control. The anti-gun crowd pooh-poohs the fundamental reason for a Second Amendment, but you shouldn’t laugh. You don’t have to pick up a textbook to learn that many tyrants modern and ancient started their reign of terror by disarming their citizenry. The death of gun rights starts with excessive government meddling in your personal life, an “imperial presidency” ruling by fiat not representation, marginalizing those with unpopular views. It is fueled by a sheep-like tolerance of more and more unreasonable encroachment on our rights. Whether it’s Big Gulps or Obamacare, a slippery slope might be around the next bend in the road.

We should fear any president’s desire to take away the last resort we have available for opposing a corrupt regime. Ask the Syrians fighting for freedom right now, or the Jews of 1930’s Germany, if you think that notion is silly and antiquated. Unarmed citizens become subjects. New hunters become Second Amendment advocates.

A kid who knows and understands guns is a safer kid. He handles one with respect in the field and knows what to do when a gun is found where it shouldn’t be. That kid is less likely to be a danger to himself or others. When the bad guy does break down his front door, that kid – or adult – might just stop a rape or murder. If some nut job is drawing a bead on your daughter at the mall, a fellow shopper (and hunter) shooting back might save her life.

Hunters are part of the circle of life. They have a realistic view of where food comes from and what is involved in making meat. Shotgunners take personal responsibility for some of their sustenance, and in this cynical world that makes for a more authentic life.

Shooting straight, find your way back to camp, starting a fire, cleaning a bird, training a dog are all skills that teach important character traits: overcoming hardship, accomplishing something tangible, self reliance, accountability. You won’t find those on the agenda at a public school. “Manliness” is scorned these days, but when the dam breaks or the woods catch fire, I hope there are hunters (and Boy Scouts) around to help.

Hunting is a direct link to our shared history. It has a body of literature that is beautiful. It is our connection to grandparents and our distant ancestors. Hunting is part of our DNA, and ignoring that suppresses a visceral element of our personhood. A new hunter becomes part of the chain, a standard-bearer for all things worth remembering including our hunting heritage.

Finally, a new hunter might take you hunting when you’re too old to venture out alone. Recruits will listen to our stories around the campfire, and pass them on. They will be our legacy, just as are pristine streams, wild places and thriving game populations

Now, go make a new hunter.

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The recent victory over anti-hunting, anti-dog forces here in Oregon reminded me of why I quit politics. You can trust very few people, and everyone has their own agenda. It’s a dirty business, full of intrigue and dishonesty. But we have to get muddy and bloody because the other side is rolling around down there, often winning because we, frankly, have been too nice for too long.

If you value your freedom to do this ...

I relate this because while we won last month, there are more fights to come, both in this state and others. Next in the order of battle here:  Sauvie Island’s master plan. Oregon dog owners and bird hunters will face a more concerted effort than even the statewide dog training rules revision, because Sauvie Island is Portland’s (motto: Keep Portland Weird) playground. Every Tom, Dick, Harry, nude sunbather, animal rights nut, bird watcher and hairy-legged vegan activist will be trying to influence the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (read: remove dog training and field trials from the entire island – ironically, much of which was purchased and is currently managed with hunter dollars.)

In your state, as we were in Oregon, here’s what you’re up against:

Bureaucrats who are: cagey, not forthcoming with information they control, less intelligent than they think, prone to “errors” and forgetfulness when convenient (or often because they do make errors and forget). They often go out of their way to curry the favor of the squeakiest wheels such as Audubon,  rather than face their wrath (it’s the path of least resistance – a route bureaucrats crave). Ultimately, these pencil-pushers answer to an appointed commission and other political types … they will usually do what they think their overlords want done.

Or this, it's time to fight fire with fire.

Hired help. Remember, consultants, facilitators and others are paid by the bureaucracy you’re battling. The cliché “follow the money” was coined to explain this phenomenon – pipers play what those who pay tell them to play. No matter how hard they try to be unbiased, a paycheck is a paycheck and the prospect for more of them depends in whole or part on the outcome of the current assignment. We were lucky here in Oregon – a principled facilitator did her best to be fair under trying circumstances. You may not be.

And even your colleagues may inadvertently stymie the “greater good.” Friendlies can steer debate to meet their needs at the expense of others. I remember our bear-cougar debate years ago: muzzleloaders argued with  houndsmen who dissed bowhunters and they all hated the fly fishers. Benj. Franklin said it best: “If we don’t all hang together, we will most assuredly hang separately.”

Closet anti’s can infiltrate the process. They will hide their true affiliation until voting time. It pays to Google everyone on your committee and “out” them early and often in public venues.  (We had a “mole” on our committee.)

Scientists and other experts will couch their input in “objectivity,” but can skew data to their own (often questionable) needs. Or, they withhold data that conflicts with their agenda. They can simply ignore your requests and calls. Find your own vetted and trusted professionals. Remember, in most cases these folks work for a public agency and know on what side their bread is buttered.

And most of all, remember that the usual suspects will play dirty, make overtures of compromise, curry favors in high places, and use the process when convenient but  ignore it when it suits their needs. Assume the worst and plan for it when you’re up against the HSUS, PETA, and local co-conspirators (who may not admit their linkage).

Let’s not fool ourselves. We are in a fight to the death. The Audubons, Sierra Clubbers, PETA and their ilk have nothing to lose and are willing to step on toes, lie, cheat, and subvert the public process any way that helps them. We, on the other hand, have too often played well with others whatever their politics. Often, that’s become a death sentence for our side.

Unlike the past, we need to be ready to make enemies, take stands, and offend those who are out to take away our freedoms . It sometimes requires measures we’re uncomfortable with, but we’ll get over it. We are on the side of right.

The gauntlet’s already been thrown down – by the other side. They will try to bully, out-yell, or embarrass us into silence. They will try to win by coercion, shame, misdirection, persuasion, or attrition. Unless we start fighting fire with fire.

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