With deer season opening, it’s important to consider the good and bad
In North Dakota, adults and children alike seem to thoroughly enjoy taking part in recreational hunting. The joy of this activity seems understandable, humans have been hunting for sustenance since the dawn of time.
This past weekend, with the opening of deer season, many NDSU students took to social media to share their celebratory kill pictures, bloodied hands and all.
Now, as someone who is not originally from this area of the midwest, hunting is not in my genes. My lineage is most certainly made up of those gatherers and violence-avoiders that have led me to be the animal loving and killing-wary person I am.
This being said, the sport of hunting has always been one that confounds me. However, I recognize that criticizing hunting at NDSU is akin to calling it casserole instead of hotdish or taking less than 30 minutes to say goodbye to someone, it’s sacrilege.
So here, it is my hope to highlight some of the positive aspects of the sport my peers and friends have informed me of. Additionally, I think it’s important for everyone to also consider some of the negative implications hunting holds, and the dangerous and sometimes callous attitudes that can accompany hunting.
Here are some pros and cons:
The most obvious benefit of any sport is the physical benefit to the person, and hunting is no exception. While some hunters may find themselves sitting in a stand or lounging during a break, there is often a lot of walking and hiking involved with any outing.
Add to this that hunting often takes place in untouched woods where there may be considerable blockages in a person’s path or snow up to their knees and it’s a serious workout.
Another benefit of hunting, and one that I’m quite jealous of if I’m being totally honest, is the wilderness skills gained by the sport. Hunters often have to learn how to recognize animal prints, how to find their way around a wilderness or if they’re hunting for an extended period of time they may also have to know how to feed themselves.
Where hunters would often be in a position to survive in a wilderness, us non-hunting weaklings wouldn’t last a night.
Perhaps the most cited benefit is how hunting helps control animal populations. Deer can cause an enormous amount of damage if left unchecked. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even with hunting deer-related car accidents are at about one million a year.
Deer also can do an enormous amount of damage to property if they overpopulate and move further into residential areas.
One final pro of hunting concerns understanding where one’s food comes from. It’s hard for people who only buy their chicken in a plastic bag at the store to understand where that chicken came from. It’s easy to eat a McRib when you don’t really consider the fact that you’re eating a once-live cow.
Hunters have a better understanding of what it means to eat animal products because they have experienced first-hand what it is like to personally take away the life of another creature.
The thing about hunting, and hunting with guns specifically, is that guns are pretty dangerous weapons (wild right?). According to the International Hunter Education Association, over 1,000 people are shot every year in North America as a result of hunting.
Even with people going through the proper channels to get certified, people will still manage to accidentally shoot their friend in their butt (it’s a surprisingly common injury). There are plenty of other sports that involve far less injuries. Have you ever heard of a curling-related gunshot injury? Neither have I.
Unlike our ancestors who hunted out of necessity and the need for survival, hunting is rarely used for the same purpose in North Dakota. There were no deer mantelpieces in caves way back when. Hunting just for trophy is not a need, it is often just distasteful.
While it’s true that helping curb overpopulation is a benefit of hunting, it can also lead to the absolute decimation of animals. Mother Nature News reported that 13 animals have been hunted to extinction within the last 200 years.
On the topic of animals, there is also the concern of suffering caused to animals. While a clean shot is ideal for hunting, when made from a distance often an animal can often be left injured, but not dead.
Then comes a sense of negligence for these animal’s lives overall. When practiced with good intention and skill, hunting can preserve environments, provide useful skills and sustenance to the hunter and keep animal populations under control.
On the other hand, in many cases animals are exposed to undo suffering. Hunters kill more for the glory of an Instagram post than the need of meat to survive. An animal in pain is simply an uncared about side effect, or worse, part of the fun.
While I will never personally pick up a rifle and go hunting, I hope those that do are doing so responsibly.