Thanks Native... You've hit the nail on the head and that is part of my fears... once we lose the people who care about wildlife, they become insignificant... conversely, if we leave wildlife disappear as in Europe, then no-one protects wildlife habitat and wild places. There are lots of individuals in MT who pursue other things, say golf, bowling, arts, music, but few use MT as a destination or spend beau coups dollars on their pursuits, hunters and anglers do. As an ideal , MT ranks right up there as the best in the country maybe the world for quality hunting, angling, and wildlife viewing/tourism, so it stands to reason to be protective of it. I do realize people in other states also feel that way about their home but I am a wildlife biologist by education from one of those states and nothing compares, in the view of this scientist, to Montana... (unless you are thinking of wild pigs and largemouth bass!!! LOL)
I try to find the rational side of things and carry all points into a conversation but current society is like a video war game... There is no public good, only enemies, and you MUST win. I didn't get that impression when I moved here 34 yrs. ago. Seems to me, that Society had been moving that direction outside MT, but always being 20 years behind the rest of the country, it simply took longer to get here. The Tea Party types whose philosophy seems to be "there is only one way, my way" approach reinforces that. As far as only 100,000 hunters in MT, even 10 years ago that figure was closer to 190,000 or more. I doubt there are any states that boast even 10% of their population is dedicated towards any given genre, so 10% isn't chopped liver anywhere, much less the 20%+ it was quite recently. Shouldn't be a competition but life can be like that.
I'll put it this way: What is the highest, best use of land in Iowa? Corn, so what should be the priority there? Corn. So even if you don't grow corn, sell corn, make products from corn, then corn should be your state's highest priority. In MT, Landscape, wildlife, fishing, and ag production is our prime asset so protecting that should be our highest priority, which can get you in a real discussion with lumber and mineral developers!!! The responsibility of being the Treasure State can be overwhelming. When I lobbied for hunters, anglers, conservation, and public access, those participants from Ag, or Mining, would insist that we MUST also advocate for others besides hunters and anglers. My response to them was, those interests have people standing up for them too, so I'll focus on what I know and what I consider important and fight for them. That is why hunters are so vocal; so many interests could negate them if you don't hold your ground. This too, is simply human nature and the mean side is growing in all of them (just look at Congress!) Thanks for joining in; I may have gotten too defensive with Ms. Mary, but this isn't the first time I've had these conversations so may get a bit testy! All my best.
Thank you for the discussion. I think we should come full circle. I was impressed by the author's dissertation on how he transcended (??) a divide from eating nothing related to the animal kingdom in to a self-provided consumer. The rest of the discussion parse individual components of that very concept. I lobbied for a large conservation organization of hunters and anglers for almost a decade. At the beginning of it, FWP's surveys counted 26% of MT people fished and 18% of MT people hunted but these figures are a decade old at this point. I do understand that those numbers are down... however, it isn't a competition with non-consumptive wildlife advocates (not that I felt any expression from you that it is), since I believe we're all here for the same reason. MT is such an amazing landscape and I feel like I'm on an elaborate vacation every day I walk out my door. I'm in the same boat as the commenter relating to jackasses who DO want to go on the attack with the PETA sucks thing. We seem to be becoming a society of , forgive me, assholes!!! Didn't feel that way living here for 30+ years until recent times and I don't like it. It is especially offensive to me personally, as you can see I maintain a pretty high opinion of hunting and fishing and to see it degrade into the visible side of my pursuit as jerks, I'd like to thin down that "herd" of assholes - there are too many of them!!!!! (said tongue in cheek.) I can understand some of the contempt ( sorry for the "hate" comment)because of it, but do try to understand many of us take this stuff seriously enough and think it through and are by nature to be pretty gentle despite the death involved. There's plenty of room for everybody in a big world like MT.
Actually...Wildlife Services of the USDA kills way more wolves, bears,mountain Lions and coyotes in one year than all the hunters put together for the past 5 years and have been doing so for decades despite ESA protections, at lleast for Grizzly and wolves. There are government trappers whose primary job is for predator control which has absolutely no relationship to wild elk/deer herds or hunting opportunity - they have no interest in hunting or conservation but protection of domestic grazing - and on our public lands to boot! It's a bigger picture than the simplistic honus you put on hunting alone. Seems important to you that hunters are the villain.
It is true that wildlife have become the new "pests" in places. Using radical predator control with unlimited killing and bounties on predators like in the early 1900s is an anachronism; Been there, done that, didn't help. No more bounties, yet ungulate heards are doing quite well. (Global warming and the resulting EHD and pine bark beetle could radically change that) Are there ignorant hunters out there who think all wolves are the problem?... sure... but our discussion was on our personal decisions to feed from the bottom of the food chain or higher up, not comments on the social structure of hunting in general. I have always abhored the generalization that the few ruin it for the whole, Baloney. I can only base my decisions on my own personal moreys (OK, don't know how to spell this one), not some idiots which all segments of society produces in some capacity. The same idiots bemoan the diminished size of elk herds in Gardiner some 16000 strong in the 1980's and blame wolves!!! As a transplant to paradise (MT) 30+ years ago, I was shocked on my first trip to Yellowstone Park in the mid 80s. Not a blade of green under 7 ft. off the ground!! No willows in the creeks, in other words, the park's Northern elk herd was way over-populated. It was a very unhealthy habitat and unhealthy herd. Although evidence was documented that wolves were already repopulating MT since the 70's, it made it a struggle for me to regard the reintro of Lobo into the Park as justified, but in all truth, wolves did the park elk a huge favor; willows are back, beavers are back, moose are back and the elk are much more vigorous I realize I am in the minority, but I never fail to mention that fact whenever the subject arises. Luckily we have professionals who recognize these things although they receive tremendous pressure for predator removal from the lower IQs in our fraternity, so to speak..
Large landowners who hoard ungulates for their bottom line are a much larger villain in this discussion. They harbor large numbers and require payment to hunt there. Inflated wildlife numbers is just as unhealthy as overharvest IMHO.
There are several Hunting Districts where the average age of breeding stock has decreased but measures have been adopted to address that. Where I live spike bulls are the only legal game; large bulls are relegated to special draw and most of those very coveted tags go to Landowners not the everyday hunter; again used on public land mostly. My background is wildlife biology so I support the many tiered approach adopted here in MT. Those in management are very aware of the disparities. Wildlife management is a process and an inexact science, but generally work fairly well. No hunter thinks there are too many elk and ranchers generally regard 1 elk as too many. It's all a matter of perspective.
I'll conclude with an obvious fact. Hunting isn't simply a hobby, or a diversion, or a recreation - it's a way of life. I feel very blessed to live where I can explore my own thoughts on the matter of "killing" vs. "hunting as a lifestyle"... they aren't mutually exclusive but they aren't the same either. I doubt I have succeeded in making that distinction, but I tried. Anyone who thinks I am only there for the passionate lust for death doesn't know anything what they are talking about. I tried to get past that obstinance but you know what they say, "none are so blind than those who refuse to see." Not looking for you to change your life but hope to dull the hate you display for mine. Hunting is a way of life in MT; 25% of MT resident hunt &/or fish, and many more support it. If hunting is so abhorant to you, perhaps another choice of residency might make you happier where hunting is not held in as high of import. (Not that I am asking you to leave paradise; it is really nice here!)
Ma'am... Evidently we are incapable of giving you an answer that would satisfy your point. You pretty much reject any and all explanations that address it or minimize what some of us consider some very valid viewpoints. I get it that you personally have certain beliefs and nothing said here vary that to any degree. To disguise your question as a yes or no answer defies the very gray reality by anyone who has tried to portray the emotions we feel - which you promptly dismiss because it doesn't meet the answer to your bi-forked selection of multiple choice answers. No amount of coercion by you will change my reality. Do I not dislike enough so that I quit? I may come to that some day but I truly relish my wild meat. I don't particularly enjoy beef and much prefer elk and deer. I spent more than 20 years of my life as a professional chef, which I came to by preparing my own meat and take my culinary interest very seriously. If you don't consider the proper care of wild meat a skill then you've never either eaten poorly dressed or well dressed venison; I can't resist one and refuse to eat the other, the difference is quite profound. There is no comparison - another point for you to dismiss. AND I truly do hate the agricultural handling of beef, pork, and poultry enough to not want to support it. I get very little enjoyment of eating low on the food chain so will not choose that lifestyle. I don't have to, I have the skills to procure my own and if killing a prey animal is a part of my lifestyle, so be it. In the bigger picture, there is no shortage of animal life after I am done with my quests afield. Your decision was personal, so is mine; I am struggling to pay respect to a lifestyle I don't consider superior to my own when receiving so little respect for my own thoughts. The choices regarding the killing aspect as you describe them are beyond simplistic. I took the time to explain it; if you still can't accept it, it is no longer my problem. I feel accomplishment when I make a good kill and prepare a meal from it but the act of killing brings me little joy. The sacrifice is real.
... well, perhaps, but only to a degree. Within the skill set of a biological creature includes both the beauty and ugly in all cases involving any kind of omnivorous diet. The hunter now must make a killing shot, then take care of the downed meat so that he isn't wasting anything in the death of a magnificent animal, then transport it the miles to a transport system so you can see the skill sets are NOT the exact same.
I truly hope you are a Vegan, that is the absolute only pedastal that doesn't make you a hypocrite in regards to pain and suffering. In the hunt most kills are relatively quick if the proper skills are honed and ethical hunter practice to bring this end to fruition. Shall we talk of cattle and hogs in a slaughter yard for days, maybe weeks with the smell and sounds of death permeating the atmosphere? Shall we talk about chickens with their beaks cut off in a 1 ft. square pen laying your eggs? Shall we talk about Holstein calves left unceremoniously to die because that milk is to be sold not used to feed uneconomic baby mouths that can produce no profit. I think these things are torturous. Being a biological creature is not a pretty life; all life dies, nothing comes out of it alive. You are not immune to the egocentricity you claim to loath.... this is just life, there is no right or wrong. Even edible vegetation is mostly planted in monocultures that deprive wildlife of a place to thrive... and I could go on and on. I do not like the kill, but I'm not ashamed of gathering my own in whatever manner is necessary. Please try to look at things from another's perspective - that was my only point before and remains the same. It all depends on your viewpoint.
If you say so, Ms. Mary... I too am a photographer and know which is more difficult to accomplish. Without a relationship with the environment, you can still photograph its image, but without the necessary interaction during a hunt, you'll go hungry... not that you'll attempt to see it through my eyes. I guess you've made my point, in reverse. There is no right or wrong, only choices, IMHO. (..and, respectfully, I don't need your permission to think so...)
I honor the author who expressed clearly what must have been a true revelation to him and tried to portray the sometimes contradictory feelings in a well written manner. I do find the moral superiority in those who claim to be relating with nature but truly do not understand how a hunter does. Speaking from my own perspective, a hunter goes into the wild, takes in all that is there. The direction of the wind, the softness of the earth in places, looks for the interaction of the various vectors surrounding him/her - finding fresh elk droppings on the east side of a hill where the elk fed at sunrise; finding a warm bed in the dark timber on the North side of a mountain where the elk spent the midday even though no food was there; the wallow a bull elk cooled himself in fighting the biting pests that plague him,...- IMHO the hunter truly relates to the nature he participates in culminating in a kill and the consumption that may follow. The person taking pictures never truly relates to the environment he/she enjoys yet makes value judgements on us who do. Seems disengenuous not to accept another's perception of that relationship, but non-hunters and antihunters do it all the time because THEY can't see why we NEED to kill??? completely misses the point, completely misses the point. When one chooses to provide one's own meat through a process only he/she can understanad, tis wisdom to accept those things that may seem foreign.I don't expect that acceptance anytime soon, I fear.
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