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Packing Up And Heading Back To CA… One More Time

March 30, 2012

OK, probably several more times before I’m all done.  But it’s that sad time, when I have to pack up all my crap and hit the road back to CA.  Work and other responsibilities call, and as much as I’m ready to drop the anchor and lay up in this harbor for good, I’ve got to tend to business.

Spring sprang while I was here, and some of it has already passed by.  In this climate, native plants tend to flower fast, taking advantage of water when they can get it.  One of the lingerers is this prairie verbena, which is pretty much my whole lawn when it rains.  Pretty little things.

The bird life has come on full strength here too, and I can see why the Hill Country is such a birders’ paradise.  I’ve seen flocks of sandhill cranes (way up there…heading north), all sorts of small birds, humming birds, cardinals (one of my favorites), and a handful of eurasian collared doves.

The collared doves are non-native invasives, and there’s no season or limit on them here in TX.  I’ll probably be eating some of them on future visits.  While most of them are the standard, large, noisy birds, there was this one visitor that popped in the other morning.  Not an albino, as there it wasn’t completely white… but more like a “smoke phase” turkey, very pale grey. 

It’s been a great trip this time, and with three full weeks (and two solid weekends) to get stuff done, I was able to accomplish a pretty good bit.  Managed to do some more juniper clearing (I guess I need to break down and call it cedar, like everyone else around here), burned off several big brush piles, and did some stuff around the house.  The pasture is about ready for the horses, although I’ll probably wait to bring them after the worst of the summer is over.

Still no hunting here.  I’d planned to get after turkeys, but had some issues with the Benjamin (my fault, mostly), and never got to it.  I have a guy who’s offered to let me come shoot an axis as well, but I need some place to store the meat.  The freezer is still in CA.  I may well be bringing that down on my next visit.

Anyway, next time I write, I’ll probably be back in the SF Bay Area.  Until then…

Wet Sows And Sport Hunting Vs. Depredation

March 28, 2012

I’m always tickled when one of my friends tells me about a successful hunting trip, even if it  makes me a little jealous right now because I haven’t had time to do any hunting on my own.  So when I saw that my friend, Hank (blogger at The HunterAnglerGardenerCook… and author of Hunt Gather Cook, Finding The Forgotten Feast) had made the trip down near Paso Robles and brought home the bacon, I had to beat back the green-eyed monster and be happy for his success.  Of course, for Hank that success was way overdue… it’s been something like three years since he last shot a hog.  I’d be a basket case if I went that long without a good hog hunt!

Hank’s hunt sounds like a good one, as he was out on about 12,000 acres with RJ Waldron of Northwind Outfitters, a little north of Paso Robles, CA.  Success has reportedly been good there, and they did spot multiple hogs before Hank took the one he dubbed, “Matilda.”  You can read his story yourself, but in short, Matilda was a perfect meat pig…  a sow about 100 lbs and probably unbred (a gilt… which also makes her an ideal candidate for culling if you’re trying to manage the populations).

But in the hunt leading up to the kill, he was faced with an interesting and fairly common quandary.  Fairly early in the day, he had his crosshairs dead-on a big sow as she fed completely oblivious to the impending doom.  His guide held him up a second, and sure enough, the sow was “wet” (still nursing piglets).  Killing a wet sow isn’t the end of the world, but it usually means the death of the dependent piglets as well.  That’s a pretty hard thing to do on purpose, especially when the reason for the hunt is to fill the table, not to eradicate a pest animal.  I’ve witnessed it more than once, and there’s simply no way to maintain a detachment from the resulting, heart-rending scene.  We’re all human, despite what some folks would have you believe.

It reminds me of the significant divide between sport hunting and eradication/extermination.  I’ve often maintained the argument that sport hunters will never be effective at serious population reduction or elimination because they’re generally not willing to take the harsh measures it requires.  Most of them won’t (and some can’t) shoot the little, striped piglets.  Most of them won’t orphan a littler of piglets by shooting the wet sow… especially if they actually see the babies suckling.  Many of them won’t even kill more than they can process and eat.

But when it comes to an invasive, non-native species like the wild pig, those extreme measures are sometimes very necessary.  Hence, it justifies things like aerial shooting and corral traps… even when the meat is sometimes buried, left to rot, or sent to the tallow factory.  It’s hard to think of something as large, warm-blooded, and intelligent as a pig in the same way you’d think of ants or cockroaches, but to the depredation hunter that’s what they are.  It requires pragmatism and a somewhat, hardened heart.

This isn’t to imply a shortcoming on the part of the sport hunter, or vice versa.  Some of us are both, so the dichotomy isn’t even exclusive.  When I’m hunting for myself, I won’t shoot a wet sow.  It tears me up to think of the implications.   I’ve heard those little ones calling, and watched them climb over the carcass of a recently deceased mother, and even now I can feel the pangs of sorrow and regret… even though I’m not the one who killed her.  To inflict that for the sake of recreation and a freezer full of meat is simply beyond me.

But there’s another side.  When I’ve been asked to help with depredation, I’ve had to put those misgivings aside.  There are bigger considerations… the health of the habitat, or the success of a crop.  The idea is to eradicate, and in this light the animals are simply destructive vermin.  The reason for being there is different, so the justifications are different as well.  It isn’t always easy, or at least not for me (and I don’t think for anyone with a conscience).  You do it because it has to be done.

Anyway… just something I’ve been thinking about.

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well, then I contradict myself.

I am large.

I contain multitudes.”

Walt Whitman

 

Lead Ban Chronicles – Breaking News – Ventana Wildlife Society Providing Lead-Free Ammo To Central Coast Hunters

March 27, 2012

This just came into my alerts box this morning… wish I’d had a little more notice!

Ventana Wildlife Society is offering 2 boxes of free non-lead ammunition to San Benito and Monterey county residents.

We know that hunters and ranchers have a long history of conserving wildlife. Hunting is an effective wildlife management tool and creates food resources for scavenging species, such as California Condors and Bald Eagles. However, these species are at risk of lead poisoning if they ingest lead bullet fragments in game carcasses and gut piles. By using non-lead ammo, you have an opportunity to protect wildlife and advance the long-standing tradition of wildlife conservation in our community. Act now to get your free non-lead ammunition while funding for this program lasts.

To get your ammo, go to the Ventana Wildlife Society’s web page and fill out the form you’ll find there.

Cool Story, Big Adventure – Shikarcamp Blog

March 27, 2012

I haven’t linked out to any new blogs in a while.  True, I’ve hardly had time to spend reading the blogs I already link to.  But I still pop around from time to time to see what everyone’s up to.

It was while doing some of this “popping ’round” that I caught up a bit on the Suburban Bushwacker’s site.  As always, good stuff to read there (sorry, Sten, I didn’t leave any comments).  One of the posts was an introduction to “Shooter”, a UK resident of Indian descent who apparently does quite a bit of hunting.  Shooter’s blog is Shikarcamp (Shikars are Indian hunter/trappers).  It’s still fairly new, but it did have some real promise.  The writing is good, the humor often subtle, and the stories were fresh.  One I found of particular interest and timeliness was his account of a mountain lion hunt in the Utah wilderness, The Lion of Zion.

In light of the recent Dan Richards controversy, this story should challenge the preconceptions of anyone who thinks hunting lions with hounds is a simple matter of sitting in the truck drinking a beer, while the dogs tree the lion.  Then you just walk over to the tree and shoot the cat.  It’s not generally like that, as this tale will tell.  Hre are a couple of snippets, but you really should take the time to read the whole thing.

This was getting nowhere. I told Jake that I didn’t want to shoot the lion. I told him to take the shot and keep the lion. I would return to the UK, get fit and come again.

“You will do it” said Jake. “You have come here all the way from the UK investing so much time and money. It’s your lion and no one else is going to shoot it but you. Just think if you can’t get this one, you will have to do the same thing tomorrow.”

That did it. There was NO way I could have done a similar trek the next day or even for the next week. He was right; it had to be done today. I realised one way of saving on walking and running was to roll down hill. The knee high snow would cushion my fall and I could cover half the way really fast.

I knew from my antics in the hill stations that rolling down on snow covered slopes deposits snow in ones backside but since I was wearing bibs and parka, I wasn’t worried about that. So off I went but what happened was that my trouser legs tucked into my boots became un-tucked and snow went into my boots from the top. This small inconvenience, ignored then was going to have a bearing on the later part of my story.

I again crossed the river and started the climb uphill. This time the slope wasn’t very steep and I tried to press the pace as much as my weak body would allow. I finally reached where Jake stood ready with the rifle. I took the rifle and was just looking into the scope when the lion jumped again!

I knew this was all the punishment that my body could take. I sank to my knees, my face in my hands.

AND

“No matter what what you do, do not fall asleep, otherwise you could freeze to death. I will come back to rescue you. I just need to find a way of getting back”

“In case you can’t make it by the morning, my passport and driving license will have the contact details for my family”. I said.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Just keep the fire alive. Do NOT let it die. I will come as soon as I can.”

It’s a hell of a story, and having followed the hounds for hogs and for bears, I know the physical effort it can take… even on relatively flat ground.  Sure, the final act of shooting a treed or bayed animal is simple.  But getting the animal to bay, and then getting to it for the shot… there’s the challenge.  Of course hound hunting still isn’t for everyone, but it’s a disservice to the folks who are passionate about this sport to write it off as “lazy” or “easy.”

Oh, and one more aside that I can’t help but offer… note in the story that after the kill, when they process the animal they take the MEAT as well as the skin.  People DO eat mountain lion.

 

Sabinal Wild Hog Festival… We Came, We Saw, We Gazed In Wonderment

March 26, 2012

And laughed a lot!

The Sabinal Wild Hog Festival was everything I’d hoped it would be.  There were the booths, of course, with all sorts of food and crafts.  Unlike many of the CA festivals I’ve been to, things were actually priced at a level you could enjoy them.  The air was rich with the smells of grilling meats, fried stuff, and goat’s milk soaps (goat farming is huge down here).  So of course we took a little bit of that in, and then headed for the stadium to witness the hog catching contest.

Holy cow!  It was hilarious.  This is something I have to do, at least once!

This video is just a teaser.  When I get back to CA next week, I’ll try to piece together a longer one with real music and a more coherent theme.

 

Wild Hog Festival This Weekend!

March 23, 2012

Wow, almost let the day slip by without this short note.  I’d mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was looking forward to attending the Sabinal Wild Hog Festival this year, and guess what?  It’s this weekend!

I’m pretty sure we’ll only make a day of the event, and haven’t decided which day to go.  My brother isn’t going to be here, and I don’t think I can convince Iggy to jump in and help me wrestle a hog into a sack, so I’ll just observe the hog catching competition.  Maybe I’ll pick up some pointers for next year!  I’ll definitely try to get some video and lots of pictures.

So, for a warm-up, check out how fast these guys get their pig in a poke!

Busy Around The Manor

March 22, 2012

Man, it’s been non-stop around Hillside Manor this week.  Between the day job (that pays for all this) and working on the place, I haven’t really had a lot of time to get any posts out.

The bright side?  Most of the really big (expensive) stuff is done.  The porch is complete, which was the biggest of the projects.  I’m really glad I hired a local contractor to do this, as it came out a whole lot nicer than if I’d done it myself… not to mention it would have taken me a year to build this thing in the limited time I’ve had to spend down here.

Got the new floors in a while back, and will be replacing the PVC plumbing underneath with PEX pipe.  It’s supposed to be a much better material, and will handle freezing temps a lot better than the PVC (less leaking joints).  The next big thing will be to get at these interior walls.  That should be a handful, but it really needs to be done.  The place is in pretty good shape, but the walls are definitely showing their age.

It’s been a beautiful spring down here in the Hill Country.  Temps have been fairly moderate, and there’s been a little rain.  I’m not sure it’s been enough to truly break the drought, but you can sure see where it’s making a difference here.  The hills are looking pretty good, and losing that blasted look that it was showing back in the fall.  The rivers are starting to flow pretty well again, including the Nueces that runs right down the road from my place.  I know the tourist businesses are happy to see this.

Things are budding out now, and I’m able to start identifying the various plants and trees I’ve got on the place.  There’s a lot of oak, and good stands of Texas mountain laurel (a flowering tree with purple flowers that smell sort of like candy… really nice).  There’s also some native persimmon (not the big orange ones you see at the store).  If I can get enough of this juniper out of here, I think this place is really going to turn into something special… not just as my new home, but as a home for wildlife.

Speaking of wildlife, I’m still not seeing a ton of variety.  There’s no shortage of whitetail, especially since I’ve set up the feeder.  I’ve been working pretty hard on clearing out the area under the oaks, and hoping that this will open things up and attract the turkeys.  I did a hike up the ridge behind the house yesterday, and the hillside is cut up with deer trails.  Still no sign of hogs or axis deer, but everyone keeps assuring me that they’ll be here soon enough, and to be careful what I wish for.  All I know is that I haven’t been hunting in ages, and I’m jonesing for a shot opportunity right here on my own place.

But as we all know, put in the work first, and then you’ll reap the rewards.  I’m counting on that.

Vancouver Bull Hunting In Hawaii

March 19, 2012

This is my friend, Bruce, with a real bruiser of a Vancouver Bull he just shot down in Hawaii.  I know what you’re probably thinking.  “A cow?  Really?  What the hell kind of hunt is this?”

If it’s not what you’re thinking (or close), then you either already know about Hawaii’s wild cattle, or you’ve got a serious case of incuriousity.  When I first heard about hunting cattle on the Big Island, I know I was a little skeptical.  But the more I heard about it, the more intrigued I became.  I may never actually make it over there to hunt these things myself, but I’d sure like to.  From accounts by Bruce and a couple of other guys with whom I’ve shared emails, it’s about as “real” as a hunt gets.

First of all, the hunt itself is not a picnic… at least if you’re doing it on public land.  The Vancouver bulls live way back in the jungle.  This is no walk in the hardwood bottoms or along some western ridge.  It’s a hike that often requires the judicious use of a machete, extreme endurance, and a will to get where  you’re going.  If you’re lucky, once you get close, you’ll be able to use the cattle and hog trails to move a little easier.  Of course, if you’re using their trails you’d better be careful.  These cattle are truly wild, and I’ve heard they can be as rank as any Cape buffalo.  Being charged by a pissed off bull (or cow, for that matter) on a trail in this dense cover would make for a pretty singular experience.

And, of course, should you find and kill one of these beasts… what then?  Look at the size of that thing in the picture.  But even the calves are hefty.

The truth is, most of the hunters who kill one of these cattle only take a limited amount of the meat.  For one thing, it’s simple practicality.  This isn’t the frozen, Rocky Mountains here.  It’s a tropical jungle.  You can’t leave meat hanging in a tree overnight, and expect it to be any good the next day.  Depending on the time of year and how far back in the bush you are, you may be fortunate to get as much as you can carry back to the ice chest before it spoils.

Then why hunt them?  If you only take a portion of the meat, seldom recover the hide, and often don’t even want the trophy, what’s the point in killing these animals?

It’s a fair question, and one that crossed my mind when I first heard about hunting Vancouver bulls.  I won’t say that I eat everything I kill, but if I kill something edible I tend to want to utilize it.  It seemed wasteful to me to shoot a 3/4 ton animal, and then only recover as much meat as you can pack on your back in a single trip.  Even with two hunters toting a share, that leaves a lot of meat on the ground.  But the truth is that this hunt isn’t really about the meat.  It’s about removing non-native, invasive species and protecting a fragile (and already heavily damaged) ecosystem.

Cattle were introduced to the Hawaiian islands in the late 1700s by Captain George Vancouver as a gift to King Kamehameha I.  The first group was quickly killed and eaten, or died from various illnesses.  Vancouver gave the king another small group, and urged that he protect them until they could become established.  Kamehameha issued a “kapu”, a royal decree, to protect the herd.  Under that protection, the herd grew like crazy until the kapu was finally lifted around 1830.  By that time, the cattle were razing farm fields, destroying native habitat, and killing or injuring people.

Hunting was established to bring the herd under control.  This eliminated a big part of the herd, but many animals moved into the jungle and have survived there just fine.  Because the damage was much less visible, hunting efforts dwindled.  A few  years back, Hawaiian environmental and conservation organizations saw that the remaining cattle were causing big problems in the native forest ecosystem (a system that originally evolved without any large mammals at all) and initiated new hunting opportunities.  The hunts were supposed to run only a limited time, but as of yet, they have been extended.  Apparently there aren’t enough people willing to do what it takes to hunt and kill these animals in sufficient numbers.

On the bull hunts, Bruce tells me that they often encounter wild  hogs, another non-native, destructive species, which are also fair game.  In fact, wild pigs are a pretty widespread problem in Hawaii, and hog hunting is not just a great sport, but it’s generally encouraged as a means of reducing damage to native plants.  Bruce said that when his neighbors found out that he hunts, many of them started calling on him to protect their landscaping and gardens from the porcine invaders.

Travelling to Hawaii with guns is not a simple matter, so stateside hunters who are interested in this experience really need to do their homework.  The best thing is to have a friend in the islands who already owns guns… or you can go with archery equipment.  I don’t know of anyone who has hunted the Vancouver bulls with bow and arrow, but it should make for a pretty exciting experience.

I’m feeling a strong need to call my travel agent!

Final Chapter In Dan Richards Saga?

March 15, 2012

Just received an email a little while ago in regards to the Dan Richards controversy.  For the sublithic residents out there, Richards is the President of the CA Fish and Game Commission.  He was recently at the center of a great brouha over legally hunting and killing a mountain lion in Idaho… despite the fact that such a hunt and kill are illegal in his home state of CA.

“What’s wrong with that,” you ask?

Well, nothing.  That’s sort of the point.  He did nothing illegal or even unethical.  But, of course, the Humane Society of the US took issue, and tried to say that it was a negative reflection on CA and showed a disdain for CA law.  Yeah, right?  WTF?  How does participating in a legal hunt in one state constitute “spitting in the face” of his CA constituents?

Despite the ridiculousness of the charges, it turned into a pretty ugly situation with several CA politicians jumping on the bandwagon and calling for Richards to resign.  When he told them to pound sand, they started machinations to have him removed.  It was looking pretty ugly.

Well, good news.  Apparently the outpouring of support from CA sportsmen was actually loud enough to make the General Assembly belay their efforts to oust Richards from his post.  Here’s the announcement from the Keep America Fishing website:

The Support of California’s Anglers Helps Retain Dan Richards as California Fish and Game Commission President

Thanks to overwhelming response from anglers and hunters, the state legislature backed off a resolution to remove Dan Richards from the commission.

Your Voice Was Heard!

The California state legislature is no longer considering a resolution to remove California Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards from the commission.

For the past two weeks, California’s sportsmen and women have let their voices be heard speaking out in support of Richards. An avid angler and hunter, Richards had been unfairly attacked by extreme environmental and animal rights organizations for taking part in a legal hunt in Idaho.

Angler response was overwhelming! Thousands of California sportsmen and women sent messages through KeepAmericaFishing™ to the state legislature and the commission in support of Richards. Many anglers also attended the March 7, commission meeting to provide comment and show support for Richards.

Commissioner Richards recently contacted KeepAmericaFishing to express his gratitude to the thousands of KeepAmericaFishing advocates for their support.

Why is Retaining Commissioner Richards So Important?

The organizations leading the charge against Richards have a much broader agenda. As a commissioner, Richards has consistently voted on the side of sound science and proven fish and wildlife management. Richards has been a voice of reason throughout the flawed Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) initiative, a controversial program that threatens sportfishing in California, and the businesses and 20,000 jobs that depend on it, by unnecessarily closing large areas of the ocean to recreational fishing.

If they had been successful in their efforts to remove Richards from the commission, these anti-fishing groups would have been one step closer to shutting anglers out of more of California’s best fishing spots.

KeepAmericaFishing does not believe the attacks are over and expects that the next tactic will be an attempt to unseat Richards as President of the commission. Please be ready to voice your support for keeping angler friendly members on the commission.

As they mentioned above, this may not be over.  It’s important not to become complacent, so keep an eye on the news to see what develops.  It is important for us (sportsmen and women) to continue to show that we won’t sit idly by and allow organizations like HSUS to dictate fish and game policy.

 

How To Sell Hunting And Shoot It Down In One Simple Article

March 14, 2012

My friend, Dave, sent me a link yesterday to an article in Mother Earth News.  At first glance, it looked like a good piece, in which one hunter explains why he eats wild meat and finds it preferable to eating the factory-farmed stuff that makes the diet of most Americans.  As I skimmed through, I found myself nodding in agreement to some of the passages.

But then I read it closely.

First of all, I should have known what to expect from the author, David Petersen.  Petersen is a self-acclaimed “mountain man” who lives in the Rockies in a cabin he built himself, primarily eating foods from his own garden or meat he has hunted.  I’ve read some of his stuff before, and to be honest, I find him to be a pompous and self-righteous ass.  This article did not change that opinion.

Petersen’s article is an extended apologia, justifying his choice to hunt (and to enjoy hunting) based on most of the standard arguments.  Hunting is essential for game management.  Wild meat is healthier for us and the environment than factory-farmed meat.  Hunting is natural, and allows game animals to live and die “naturally”.  And so on…

Not a lot to grab hold of there.  I’ve made many of the same arguments myself, and they’re sound enough for what they are… an effort to explain the inexplicable.  Sure, they fall short in many cases, especially when challenged by the bigger, moral question… how can you continue to hunt when that behavior is no longer required for your survival?  But they do provide a quantifiable basis for debate.

But Petersen isn’t content to stop there.  He feels the need to set himself apart from the general mass of hunters, and to place himself and his ethics on some unassailable pedestal.  It’s not enough for him to argue that hunting is OK because it provides healthy meat and good excercise… he goes on to say that some hunting isn’t OK at all.

The doctrine of fair chase from the Boone and Crockett Club, founded by Teddy  Roosevelt, is a widely embraced sportsman’s rule of personal conduct afield that  mandates “the ethical, sportsman-like and lawful pursuit and taking of any  free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does  not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.” Clearly unethical  activities that nonetheless are legal in some states include baiting, driving  deer, and shooting bears or mountain lions from trees after they’ve been chased  there by hounds.

Specifically, he’s talking about hunting that doesn’t meld with his personal ethic.  And while he first seems to espouse the Boone and Crockett fair chase doctrine (which is a set of rules for acceptance into their record book… NOT for all hunters to live by), he goes even further.

Even so, many of the criticisms of contemporary hunting are valid. “Outdoor gear” catalogs clog our mail. Television is crowded with “outdoor” (I call them “outhouse”) channels and their plethora of heroes hungrily hawking flashy killing toys, skills-crutches and other cheater technologies accurately targeted at contemporary wannabe hunters who don’t wannabe real hunters badly enough to invest the time, energy, learning, sweat and heart required to do it right. To quote Abbey yet again: “Hunting is one of the hardest things even to think about.” Why learn to read a map and compass when I can buy a GPS? Why walk when I can buy an ATV? Why incorporate “the Zen of archery” into my life through regular practice so that I can kill humanely and consistently with a simple bow and arrows when I can buy an arrow-launching device complete with sights and pulleys to make drawing the “bow” easier; or when I could go all the way and buy a 21st-century crossbow that shoots steel bolts and has more in common with a rifle than with a real bow and arrow? Why bother to scout and learn how to follow tracks and to “read” wildlife signs when I can buy a digital “game cam” that will show me who is doing what out there and when, 24/7? Why and why and why?

I’m sorry, but those criticisms are decidely IN-valid and perpetuate dangerously inaccurate stereotypes.  The elitist attitude here oozes all over like pus from under the scab of a festering wound.

True, there are some hunters out there who rely on technological crutches more than they should… and for many, various reasons.  And true again, the hunting industry is doing its level best to sell us even more stuff guaranteed to “kill bigger bucks” or “fool the wiliest (creature of choice) in the woods.”

But for every one of the indolent, unskilled Nimrods out there, there’s a highly skilled counterpart who knows the game and the outdoors as intimately as his own bedroom (in fact, Petersen would like us to believe he is in this camp).  And in between the extremes fall the majority of hunters who use varying combinations of skill and technology as part of their hunting experience.

Due to circumstances of available time, location, mentoring, and finances, etc., every hunter cannot live off the land in the Rocky Mountains, or hunt solely for subsistence.  Sometimes “shortcuts” are simply pragmatic.  While the hunt is about more than just the kill, the truth is that most hunters do want to take the occasional animal.  Likewise, wildlife management depends on a level of success, so the laws and regulations must be designed to facilitate that success… hence, you have legal baiting, hound hunting, and even night shooting for destructive species.

There are also valid arguments that some technology improves the ability to consistently make clean, humane kills. Bow sights, laser rangefinders, and good rifle optics all have a place in the gear bag of the ethical hunter.  While Petersen may be living his dream in the Rocky Mountain backcountry, a great number of American hunters find themselves living in urban and suburban environments where you can’t always take for granted things like the opportunity to constantly hone your shooting and woodscraft skills.  And even the most experienced archers misjudge distance in the field… resulting not only in missing, but in wounded animals.

Coming back to the article, what Petersen has accomplished here is to sell HIS idea of hunting as good, all the while tearing down the reality that ethics and motivations run the gamut of variation.  While there’s certainly nothing wrong with living by his ethical standard (as long as he actually practices what he preaches), that level of ethical and moral commitment simply doesn’t apply universally… and more importantly, they shouldn’t!  It’s an unreasonable expectation to hold, and a crippling standard by which to hobble the hunting community (and the industry).  If much of Petersen’s audience buys what he’s selling, and believes that the only “good” hunting is hunting that aligns with his standard, then what happens to their support of hunting when the reality shows that very few hunters actually live up to that standard… or worse, that few actually want to?

The article, by the way, stands in particular contrast to my recent reading of Tovar Cerulli’s book, The Mindful Carnivore.  Cerulli also takes a deeply philosophical look at his personal hunting ethics, and makes some discoveries that guided his growth as a hunter.  In many ways, I think that he is pretty closely aligned with Petersen.  However, the big difference is that Cerulli doesn’t preach his own gospel or judge other hunters who don’t share his belief or approach.  Instead he teaches by example.  Even as he fully acknowledges that his motivations and values aren’t universal.  What’s more, they are constantly evolving.

Obviously, the article set me to thinking, even as it infuriated me.  Give it a read here, and if you’re really motivated, have a look at Tovar’s book as well.

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