Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hunting Season


This weekend's family outing was a short and sweet one. A walk, a cup of tea, a squall, some sun peeking through the fast moving clouds.

Hunting season is not my favorite around here. I feel weirdly possessive and protective of the deer that pass through our yard in search of pears: the little bucks with their single-prong-horns, this year's fawns grown but still clinging to their mothers, the mares with more than one year's babies in tow. Whenever I come across a deer in the wild, the trailhead crammed with hunter's trucks, I silently hope they make it through this last week of the season.

I'm not against hunting by any means, most of the folks I know hunt. Subsistence hunting from stable populations is a perfectly sound alternative to buying your meat, or even raising your own.

Hunters are some of the most practical environmentalists and naturalists there are. You have to love being in nature, still and observant, to hunt. It's an art in its own way. Of course it's not practiced as such by many, but a lot of hunters have a great understanding of the inner workings of the areas and eco-systems they hunt in. Sports and trophy hunting, of course, make me sick to my stomach, as does the careless, unthoughtful killing of scarce or unstable populations.

However, on a small, densely populated island, the hunters make me uneasy. As much as I'd like to think that most people with guns also have good sense, I've often found the opposite to be true. The public lands designated for hunting here are small and flanked by houses, as well as being well-used by non-hunters for outdoor recreation.

Walking in these familiar woods always makes me nervous in October. And I'm not the only one. People here have absolute horror stories of strangers traipsing through their yards with guns after an animal they've injured.

Our friends and neighbors know the right places, know to ask permission, to proceed with caution. They know to take from the right population, not just any old deer that pops up. They know how to kill efficiently and swiftly, minimizing unnecessary suffering for the animal. Newbies and strangers with guns worry me.


The deer too, seem to know what's going on. You see them in the most random places all of a sudden, well out of their usual way. Sneaking, hiding, but still too comfortable to walk close by people. For their species they are small and tame here and though the folks at Fish and Game seem to think that we have enough of an abundance of them to merit two tags per hunter, instead of the typical one, most locals have a sense that there are really not that many of them around.

You rarely see an old buck for instance. Only these yearlings with new pointy horns.

The two that we saw on our walk seemed to be conspiring to move away from a hunting party in the woods. We made much noise, quickened our steps as though a bear, or cougar had been seen skulking in the trees, but really, humans can be so much more dangerous.

I'll be glad when the season's over, the pantries stocked with "hillside salmon". Hunter Orange is not my color, guys...

13 comments:

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    1. I do believe it's a little more complicated than that, at least for me it is, but your sentiments certainly are correct <3

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  2. Like you I have a bit of mixed feelings about it all. We do not eat meat, but I still understand and respect my friends choices when they are mindful and respectful of the act of hunting, but I don't feel very comforted by those I know heading into the woods with guns and thirty packs of beer and try to keep it out of my mind as theirs are the last minds I am likely to change. Will be breathing a sigh of relief when hunting season has passed. Never at any time of year do I see so many deer on the roadsides due to a run in with a car...the animals are definitely seen in the most unusual of places as soon as the hunters head out.

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    1. I know, with the drinking and shooting. Terrific stuff.

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  3. Meilläkin on metsästyskausi alkanut. Viikonloppuisin metsistä kuuluu pauketta ja koirien haukuntaa. Duunifacebookin syöte täyttyy kaadettujen hirvien kuvista. Ei siinä mitään, suhtaudun hirvenmetsästykseen positiivisesti. Hirvikantaa pitää harventaa, eikä täällä kukaan metsästä vain huvikseen. Metsästysyhdistykset järjestävät kyläläisille yhteisiä päivällisiä ja pienituloiset eläkeläiset saavat osansa lihasaaliista, johon heillä ei ehkä muuten olisi varaa. Mutta kyllä minuakin joskus pelottaa aseiden pauke ja teille paniikissa säntäilevät hirvet. Pari vuotta sitten oli hirvikolari tosi lähellä, juurikin tähän aikaan vuodesta. Ja kyllä minua välillä ahdistaa esimerkiksi metsäkanalintujen metsästys, koska niitä on täällä liian vähän. No, meneepä tarinoinniksi. Kauniita kuvia. Sinun kengissäsi olisin minäkin huolissani kauriskannasta, kun saarenne on pieni ja luonto siellä niin eristyksissä...

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    1. Metsästyksessä on tosiaan monta puolta. Itekin olen aina tykänny tosta hirvenmetsästyksen yhteisöllisestä menosta ja niistä peijaisista kanssa. Mutta joo, säntäilevät hirvet, jaiks.

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  4. I don't let anyone hunt on my land and they better not come after one if they've shot it. I have a sign up that says, Hunters Will Be Shot. My husband is on a ten day hunt 30 miles from here. Like I said, no one hunts here. That being said, I have 3 bucks that know me and many mothers and babies around. I feed them corn and acorns are everywhere, yet they still eat my gardens. Then, I shoo them away which doesn't work. They just finished off all of my tomato plants.

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  5. I feel exactly, EXACTLY the same way you do. I've actually never hunted in my life, but I don't have a problem with it if done for the right reasons, in the right ways. Loved this post, Milla!

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  6. beautiful pictures. i love seeing this season through the different blogs i read, it's just such a gorgeous time of year. i saw some deer a couple weeks ago on a walk. they're such awesome creatures.

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  7. Hey Milla.
    This season has been very tragic and brutal to the wildlife in Wyoming. My girlfriends husband is a game warden and there are some crazy gun toting idiots out in the field! So many animals are wounded and left to die, leaving their young alone. I believe that hunting is nothing more than a violent form of recreation. People do not need to eat meat.
    I love the images of your deer and that you make a lot of noise! PS what are those red & white things? :)

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    1. That sounds terrible. People really ought to be taught how to behave in nature and while I think that the whole meat-hunting-question is nuanced and not straightforward for me, I do think that people need to be educated and respectful. I can't whole-hog agree that hunting is just about killing and violence, because it's an old pursuit, with multifaceted cultural connotations, BUT you sure wouldn't think it when you see some of the folks that go-a-hunting. But that's a post for another day…
      Those are Amanita Muscarias, or Toadstools. A poisonous and possibly hallucinogenic, but certainly beautiful mushroom. Happy fall dear <3

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