Friday, September 19, 2008

Special goose seasons, Excess Whitetail Tags and Game Hogs

Household chores and remodeling projects are interfering with my ability to enjoy the open hunting seasons. My household chores are currently centered on remodeling, refurbishing and painting the garage and my office, which is attached to the garage, so it is in my interest to finish them. But, I'd rather be hunting. Right now our small game seasons are open but the special early goose season will close after the weekend and I've missed it! Fortunately our grouse and partridge seasons will remain open until January so I still have lots of time to hunt and make up for the seasons I've missed.

I enjoy these special early seasons but I try to remember that the hunter, in any special season, is just a management tool--the early seasons and extra deer tags are attempts to gain some control over increasing wildlife population numbers.

I am all in favor of these special seasons and the availability of extra deer tags but I wonder what these seasons and tags are doing to the mindset of many hunters. Is there a danger that too many tags and seasons with generous bag limits encourage a "kill 'em and stack 'em" attitude that is opposite to hunting's traditions? Perhaps this diametrical positioning of the two attitudes is confusing us, as hunters, when we try to understand the "why" of our hunting. We want to believe we hunt for reasons that are personally esoteric and these reasons are removed from the actual killing of a game animal. Yet, when we go hunting and fail to kill our game we usually feel that we've missed something. I don't believe the honest hunter can deny the desire to bag the game being hunted. That desire to be successful must be put in perspective when it is compared to the abundance of excess tags and special seasons. If the "extra" game killed is going to a food pantry or given to the extended family is the hunter being altruistic to assuage a sense of "taking too much" from the field? Perhaps professional hunters could accomplish the same goals of population management and the meat still be donated to food pantry programs. If the hunter could be removed from the game animal population control tool box the delicate balance between the desire to kill a game animal, the demands of ethical hunting, and the principles of wildlife management could be more easily maintained.

Not too many years ago people who killed more game than they or their family could use were called game hogs. Today we seldom hear that derogatory term. Has wildlife management given legitimacy to the person who was once the game hog? True or not, I believe that the majority of hunters follow the old standards of conduct and kill only what they can use, whether they are hunting in a special season or using additional tags. Good hunters are, by nature, guided by a sense of what is right and that sense is not a product of management but is their nature as ethical hunters. glg

6 comments:

NorCal Cazadora said...

Nice blog! You should hook up with the Outdoor Bloggers Summit - they're fantastic about publicizing new blogs. They're at http://outdoorbloggerssummit.blogspot.com/.

And: I know how you feel about chores getting in the way of hunting. I'm supposed to be deer hunting right now, but work crashed down on me pretty hard this week.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I think that going down the "professional hunter" route is a dangerous precedent. I would rather see hunters encouraged to donate meat if they are unable to use it themselves or give it to friends.

Galen Geer said...

Norcal Cazadora, Thank you for your compliment, and I'll be sure to connect with them.

Chas, If you'll remind me in a week or so I'll send you some information on using hunters to control wildlife populations. I'd send it now but my files are still mess. In essence, however, researchers have uncovered some interesting negatives. glg

Kristine said...

I absolutely love the last sentence of this post. One of my pet causes is the image of hunting, and I firmly believe what you said in that last sentence. I wish more of the general population would believe it as well.

By the way, I'd second the recommendation for the Outdoor Bloggers Summit. If you have any questions about how to become a part of the group, let me know.

Phillip said...

Interesting thoughts, and welcome to the blogosphere! I guess I haven't been paying attention, so this is my first visit...

I'm not completely sure I'm following your line of reasoning as per extra season hunters and game hogs. A common complaint from the wildlife agencies in many states is that, even with unlimited antlerless deer tags, they can't get hunters to take enough does.

Part of serving a role as steward of the environment is doing some of the necessary, dirty work. Contrary to the whack-em and stack-em mindset, it appears that most hunters are reticent to take on that part of the job... perhaps because our ethics have been so defined by an older mindset(many hunters from my generation were mentored by hunters who remember the scarcity of game throughout the 40s and 50s). We don't take more than we can use, even though wildlife management targets require it.

In short, Sport hunters have generally proven seriously ineffective at managing wildlife populations... whether deer, goose, or wild hogs. This sort of belies the suggestion that the extra seasons and liberal limits encourage "game hog" behavior.

So it does beg the question... can we rely on sport hunters to serve true wildlife management needs?

As far as professional hunters... who's gonna pay for that?

Maybe it is the logical alternative to expecting sport hunters to manage wildlife populations. It's certainly been the response to the wild hog population explosion in Texas and some other states.

But I'm a little concerned when folks start to throw around the idea of hiring professionals to take over the role of wildlife management. What then is the role of sport hunter? In this society where every action seems to require justification, how do we then preserve our sport?

It's quite a conundrum, and I don't pretend to know the answer. Great topic for discussion, though.

Good stuff.

Marian Love Phillips said...

Good luck with your new blog - The Thinking Hunter. Saw where Kristine of Hunt Smart Think Safety posted your blog and had to come by and check on you. Would encourage you to support the Outdoor Bloggers Summit. I have been hunting over 20 plus years and enjoy deer hunting and feeding my family and friends. Goodhunting to you this season. :)