Outdoors: Changing attitudes on deer hunting

By Al Smith - Contributing Columnist

Deer hunting and attitudes about it have certainly changed over the years.

As a kid, I remember having the first day of the gun season off from school because it was such a tradition in Pennsylvania. Even when I was in college, the school I attended extended Thanksgiving break to the season opener.

Youngsters learn a lot about hunting from their fathers and grandfathers.

But over time, things change. Some fathers and grandfathers no longer hunt. Youth learn about the sport by taking hunter education courses, from a friend or even their mothers today.

Bow hunting has become extremely popular, much of it due to the crossbow, which gives youth, females and older people with some maladies opportunities to harvest a deer. The long bow season provides ample opportunities in the field. More housing in rural areas offers less space for gun hunting but enough “safe” room to bow hunt.

Some things have changed drastically.

The willingness of landowners to allow hunters has diminished. As some land passes to the next generations, new owners sometimes do not give permission to hunt their land. Some now see that aspect as profit-making and “rent” out their property at a good price during hunting seasons.

Some owners are displeased with the attitudes and knowledge of some hunters. For some hunters, it’s merely a killing thing today. They don’t do their homework, don’t understand being out in nature and lack the proper ethics. Unfortunately, they spoil things for others.

One landowner, who does not hunt but is not against hunting, explained to me recently he would not allow some of his relatives to hunt his land because of some of those reasons.

He cited the idea of just killing something. He was emphatic that they did not understand the rut, including rubs and scrapes. They did no pre-scouting. He said they had no clue what trails or habits deer had.

For years, a hunting friend and I would run what we called the “route.” It was a few square-mile area where we hunted. We scoped out deer, their trails, tracks, etc., in preparation for the season. We checked rubs and scrapes. We tried to do our homework.

The landowner related one of his relatives still had most of the venison from last year in his freezer. Wasting an animal is not ethical. Venison is one of the best red meats a person can eat. Deer are a harvestable resource. This landowner also was upset that he found a couple of deer carcasses on his property. Obviously someone had shot them but had not tracked them. A person cannot find a deer he has shot 100 percent of the time, but that should be a rare example.

This landowner also pointed out how hunters sometimes are quick to shoot when they do not have a good shot. There are times when one should not shoot.

The conversation with this landowner was quite interesting, since he seemed to know more about the biology, habits, etc., of deer than a number of hunters I know On the positive side, that same day I talked to a woman who said her son was teaching his girlfriend how to bow hunt. She showed me a picture of the young lady drawing back a compound bow.

The woman related how the young woman was excited to learn about the sport. Naturally, her boyfriend was pleased as well.

This should please all hunters. For our sport to continue, we need young people like this.

Remember, your actions in the field and woods can leave a positive or negative results on observers. Be ethical. Help preserve a sport that long has been part of our American heritage.


By Al Smith

Contributing Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or and you can follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or and you can follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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