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Is there such a thing as "hunting ethics"?Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010, at 9:00 PM
I'll tell you what has prompted this question. I was reading along on my Facebook page recently, and one of my former students posted on a friend's link, where he was talking about shooting a deer.
The hunter must have been standing in the woods over the doe's body, posting on Facebook, because it went like this: "lmfao just smoked a doe and they other doe is just walking circles around it like what's going on."
For those of you who aren't used to that stupid text-talk, I assume that "lmfao" means "laugh my fat a** off."
The post was disturbing to me on several levels, which had nothing to do with the size of the hunter's posterior. First, that young hunter is a former student of mine, which makes his callousness so much more disappointing, not to mention that his spelling, grammar and punctuation are just downright criminal.
Seriously, I find it so disrespectful for a hunter to laugh and make fun of these creatures which they hunt. Native Americans harvested deer and other wildlife for their own survival, but I never heard tell of them ridiculing the animals they killed.
One of the other smart-aleck young men who responded to the post said, "shoot the other one dumba**" This, of course, brings up a whole new question: Are these young men so careless as to shoot whatever wildlife they so please, with no regard for Missouri law? Do hunters not still have to purchase deer tags which specify "doe" and "buck"?
I also find it unethical for the hunter to shoot up the countryside with the attitude that any creature that moves in the woods is just there for his personal target practice.
I was curious about the deer population, so I went to the Missouri Conservation Department's webpage at www.mdc.mo.gov and looked into the history of the white-tail deer in Missouri.
I found that deer were plentiful in the state until they were over-hunted in the late 1800's and early 1900's. By 1925, the deer population was estimated to be 400! Can you imagine?? We take the current population for granted, for sure, with this year's total killed at 91,236.
According to the Conservation site, the laws passed during these early times were just token laws with no enforcement until 1937, when the Conservation Commission was established. This commission closed deer season from 1938 - 1943, so that in 1944 the population had rebounded to 15,000.
In 1944, the commission opened a two-day bucks-only season in 20 southern Missouri counties, and the state was stocked with deer from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.
Today, the yearly deer kill in Missouri is typically 300,000. The total deer population is estimated at 1.4 million with 40% being bucks - both button bucks and antlered bucks.
We do have a very healthy deer population in the state, and I can see the rationale for population control.
My question is - Is there a form of ethical behavior when it comes to sports hunting for deer?
In the above situation, I'm sure the doe which my insensitive former student was laughing at was a young doe still traveling with her mother. I see no way in which that scene is laughable.
Rather, the whole situation evokes images of my first viewing of the Bambi movie. I sat in the darkened theater feeling a mixture of grief and rage at so senseless a slaughter of motherhood. I guess it's natural for women, who are traditionally more nurturing than men, to be horrified at such scenes of destruction.
I can hear my more callous readers, muttering, "Oh, c'mon! Get real!"
My question remains: Is there such a thing as hunting ethics? For example, I sit in my living room and hear a veritable barrage of rapid fire gunshots from the land to the north. Is someone shooting a whole herd of deer? My son says they're obviously shooting at a running deer, something he doesn't do - for a variety of reasons. First, it's a matter of control. If you're banging away at a running target, there's too great a chance of hitting something else besides the deer.
Wild, uncontrolled gunshots can also travel so much farther than the immature, careless hunter realizes. I've heard of cases in which gunfire hits vehicles traveling on country roads or highways. When we first moved to the Tillman area, bullets whizzed all around the house.
Another issue disturbs me - How many of you are seeing the deer lying dead beside our highways and country roads? A friend of mine saw four lying beside the highway between Advance and Dexter yesterday. Most of these animals are not the victims of vehicle collisions. Rather, they are animals who were fatally wounded by a hunter who was too lazy to track the deer down and at least make use of the meat. Is this ethical?
I realize that I'm opening myself up to criticism with this blog, but so be it! If you had to sit in my living room and dodge bullets, you might feel the same way!
From the hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural reporter Madeline, keeping her head down and her powder dry.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.