Outdoors column: Questions, comments answered about hunting
One of the most viewed stories in our paper, "Does Hunting Teach Children to Kill?" by Mike Haley in the Yuma Sun Sept. 7, urges me to answer some of the questions and comments he wrote about when the dove hunt (ending today in Arizona) reminded him of his college friends asking about hunting. They had asked him, "Why do people in parts of the U.S. still hunt?" "You don’t need the food, so it must be about killing an animal for the joy of shooting."
Yes, people still hunt for the healthy recreation and the great outdoors experience. And yes, there are people who do not need the food — they just want to enjoy the sport. Some donate the meat to a charity, others give it away. But there are plenty of others, including me and my family, who hunt for the great meat/food it provides (doves included) should we be lucky enough to harvest the animals we’re hunting, legally — with hunt license and proper permits. Me and my family thoroughly enjoy the recreation and being in the outdoors but bringing home the meat is what it’s all about. There is no particular joy in killing any animal other than for the food it provides. When it comes to someone killing an animal for the joy of shooting, he/she would be described as "a poacher" who kills an animal illegally, most times without a license and most times out of season, who kills for some sick, unknown reason, then most times wastes all or at least a good part of the meat that animal could have provided. Hunting illegally is a serious, criminal offense — it is against the law. These people who poach wildlife are not hunters, they are thieves breaking the law and stealing from the honest citizens.
Yes, "hunting is a practice passed down from father to son," as Haley stated. (Let’s include daughter as well, because girls hunt the same as boys). The treasured tradition of hunting and any other outdoor sport is the prime method of continuing the practice for future generations, honestly and with great care for the animal as well as with necessary practice and plenty of it so as to not merely wound the animal being hunted and have it suffer. A killing shot harvests the animal without suffering which is the whole point of the practice for the hunt. Wildlife management by state agencies is in place to control and protect the numbers of wildlife (these animals do not practice birth control, so they multiply continuously). Hunting is one of the many tools used in the attempt to humanly control the numbers of wild animals so they can live in harmony with the land they live on. Without hunting, they would very easily over-populate an area, run out of food to eat (because of their numbers), become diseased and ulntimately die from overcrowded conditions. Would this be better than hunting? I think not!
There is an alternative wildlife animals take advantage of when they run out of their own food sources in their own chosen territory, and that is to travel to other areas and visit our farmer’s fields (filled with food items grown for human consumption). When that would occur, we the human population, would be without our food sources. Think about that! I don’t know of any human who would willingly give up eating! But that’s where wildlife management comes into play and hunt seasons are established again to control the populations in a humane manner.
Yet another problem occurs when wildlife or any animal gets into a farmer’s fields. By just being there using the fields filled with growing vegetables, wheat, etc., they can easily contaminate the various crops causing it all to be completely useless. The farmer loses and the human population loses as well. Do we want this? I don’t think so! Population control is an absolute must!
After covering various aspects of hunting in his story, Mike Haley tackles guns and "teaching young children to shoot and kill." I’m sorry, hunting has absolutely nothing to do with children having guns to shoot other people. A gun is an inanimate object that cannot operate by itself! Guns don’t kill people. People kill people! Taking away guns for any reason would only take the gun out of the hand of the honest person for protection. The criminal doesn’t abide by the law and would still have all the firepower wanted to do whatever he/she wishes. Do you really think the criminal, of any age, young or old, thinks anything about what’s legal and what is not, let alone what’s right or wrong? Good people go by the rules, bad people don’t. Taking the guns away would not prevent crime. Better to have law enforcement do the job they are hired to do.
When writing about the 14-year old boy who killed a man, Haley wrote of it being decided that the boy was a product of his environment and all he knew was guns, that he grew up with them and it was his way of life. I can picture youngsters with uncaring parents who possibly break the law figuring there’s nothing wrong with it as long as they aren’t caught. I have been very fortunate in taking advantage of my decent environment and what it offers, but it took a caring family for me to learn to care enough about myself to do that. I am very lucky and am the first to admit it. Most people have that advantage, but others do not. I have no answers. It’s a royal disaster that society has enabled people to go off track. Even then, I have no real answers about why young people go off track. Lack of parental guidance? How the family lives? Who knows?
Hunting has not run its course as Haley asked about in his letter, not as long as there are wild animals needing population control (and they all do need that control and always will). Gun violence? Again, that has nothing to do with hunting unless it’s some jerk showing off like no real hunter would even want to do. Most people, especially youngsters, before getting to hunt that first time, are required to take and pass the Hunter’s Education (safety) Program, in most states, in order to hunt big game animals. The course teaches safety with firearms as well as with bows and arrows, how to use them and how not to use them. Some states also require adults to take the same course before hunting. Youngsters also learn about the same respect and safety issues when taking advantage of small game camps being provided in a lot of states in the U.S. to teach them the right way to handle a firearm. They also learn to appreciate all living things and to have the awareness of good and bad. Students of the Hunter Education Program also learn to determine what is right and wrong ethically while hunting. As written by Aldo Leopold, "A particular virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact." Groups like Boy Scouts have firearms safety programs that are a also great way to teach kids about guns and the responsibility that goes with it. I’m sure there are many other responsible groups that teach the same things. Even if a youngster doesn’t really want to hunt, these programs are great in getting him/her into learning the safety issues as well as learning to have great respect for the gun and what it can do. Education and teaching responsibility along with respect are the keys.
• Big quail/coyote hunt: Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club will host this year’s quail hunt at Unit 41 Oct. 4-6 near Whitewing Ranch area, open to club members (anyone who is not a member but would like to attend is welcome to pay the dues and join in the fun of the hunt. Cost is $15 per person to cover two breakfasts and two dinners. Ask questions or sign-up in advance to help coordinate the event by calling Paul Hester at 446-6521. Call Becky Pope at 502-0121 to become a member.
• Desert Bass Anglers "The Fun Way to Fish": In spite of it being a good day weather-wise, the 18 boats taking part in the latest tournament found fishing slow with some anglers not even weighing in a fish in spite of their effort. At times, that’s the name of the game, but doesn’t discourage anglers to stop fishing, ever.
Taking first place was Craig Johnson and Jimmy Phipps who weighed in their 18.19 total as well as the number 1 big fish of 4.28. Dave Willhide/Glen Freeman took second place with 14.20 while father and son Steve and Kalib Lund placed third with 13.98. Joe Kling, fishing alone, weighed in 13.50 to take fourth place. The number 2 big fish weighing 4.28 was caught by Kevin Goff and Erik Hall. Junk fish honors was taken by Ricky Stewart and Jim Waits with a 5.51 striper. Thanks a lot to the kids belonging to Yuma’s High School Bass Fishing Club for their help at the tournament. They are much appreciated by the competing anglers. Keep practicing to fish the October team tournament out of Fisher’s Landing. Call Mac or Bobbi McDermott at 726-1984.
• Yuma High School Bass Fishing Club: All local high school students are eligible so if you’re interested in competitive bass fishing on local, state and national levels, visit studentanglerfederation.com for more information or call school sponsor Terry Hurt at 580-7678. All boats, rods and reels and other equipment are furnished to the students with mentors and coaches from Desert Bass Anglers and the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club.
• Yuma Pro Am draw series: Sign-up is in progress for the Sept. 29 tournament out of Fisher’s Landing with the draw meeting on Sept. 28 at Baron Fuels. Pay the $15 annual dues prior to fishing with tournament fees very reasonable. Call Bob La Londe at 580-1270 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Wednesday jackpot derby: Sign-up $5 each Wednesday by 8 a.m. at Fisher’s boat dock with the biggest fish weighed in, any species, taking the pot.
• Swede Ferguson monthly memorial bass derby: Sign-up $10 anytime during the month and weigh-in at Fisher’s boat dock. The winner is determined the last day each month. Call Jimmy Phipps at 782-2207 on each of these derby’s.
• Bass class on the water: Learn how, when and where to catch bass at Yuma area waters with fishing guide Dave Willhide, with a bass boat and all necessary fishing gear provided. Call Dave at 726-2621. Ask about his bass fishing seminars for RV parks and home groups.
• Well Armed Woman: If you would like to shoot or learn all about firearms including how to shoot, there are ladies willing to assist including learning the safety measures necessary. Take a look on what’s going on with these ladies on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TWAW.YumaAZ or contact the Yuma Chapter leader Nicolle Griffin at N.Griffin at Yuma.email@example.com.
• Renegade Archers of Yuma: Archers of all ages are welcome to shoot the trail of 3D animals at the Foothills Archery Range when shooting resumes Sept. 22. Adult shoot fees are reasonable and all youngsters are free with use of equipment available when arranged for prior to the shoots. If there are youngsters wishing to learn to shoot archery, we will be happy to teach them to shoot as well as assisting them in learning safety rules of shooting bow and arrows so they can really enjoy and appreciate the sport. Parents are asked to accompany their youngster(s) for safety. Call Jean Wilson at 247-4450 or Kevin Wilson at 726-0953.
• Yuma Trap and Skeet Club: Open trap and skeet 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Sundays at the Adair Park shooting range with the Sept. 30 board meeting at Round Table Pizza, Avenue B and 16th Street. There will be a practice session at noon Saturday for youngsters who have signed-up with the Scholastic Clay Target Program. Call Gary Knight at 329-0960.
• Yuma Territorial Longrifles Club: Open black powder matches at 8:30 a.m. the 1st and 3rd Saturdays each month with the monthly meeting proceeding the match on the 1st Saturday. Call Dennis Hansel at 342- 7573.
• Yuma Rifle and Pistol Club: Open long-range "Palma" match today for shooters at the Adair Park Big Bore Range for men, women, civilian and military shooters as well as interested youngsters who sign-up by 7:30 a.m. Call Paul Lerma at 782-6766 or Gerald Brooker at 305-0681.
• Southwest Bowhunters Archery Club: Open archery shoots at 8 a.m. Sundays at the Adair Park range with the practice range open all week. Call Wayne Wittenberg at 314-0140 or Uschi House at 345-3770.
• Yuma Matchmasters: Open matches at the Adair Park small bore range with sign-up for shooters at 6:30 a.m. on the 1st Saturday for the Steel Challenge Match, the 2nd Sunday for the IPSC Combat Matches. Cowboy Matches on the 4th Sunday will sign-up at 7:30 a.m. Safety meetings proceed each match being shot. Call Bob Wiles at 920-2157 or Joanne Schickle at 502-1298.
Call Jean Wilson at 247-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.