As we enter the fall and look forward to the many hunting seasons that will be available to us, I believe it is worth our time to read the following.
“ The Boone and Crockett Club maintains that hunting, at its most fundamental level, is defined by a tenuous and unpredictable relationship between predator and prey. This is an intrinsic, irrefutable and intimate connection that cannot be compromised if the hunter is to maintain the sanctity of this relationship and any credible claim that hunting is challenging, rewarding, respectful of wild creatures, and in service to wildlife conservation. This connection is built upon many complex components that differentiate hunting from simply shooting or killing.
The Club finds that long-range shooting takes unfair advantage of the game animal, effectively eliminates the natural capacity of an animal to use its senses and instincts to detect danger, and demeans the hunter/prey relationship in a way that diminishes the importance and relevance of the animal and the hunt. The Club urges all hunters to think carefully of the consequences of long-range shooting, whether hunting with a rifle, bow, muzzleloader, shotgun, crossbow, or handgun, and not confuse the purposes and intent of long-range shooting with fair chase hunting. “
It well may be that we live in the golden age of hunting. The return of the whitetail deer and the wild turkey are two often cited examples of species returned from near extinction to huntable numbers. Game is widely available through funding from the Pittman-Robertson Act, $1.65 billion through 2013, other federal funds, state funding and contributions from hunting and conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Rifle Association.
A number of hunters taking to the marshes, dove fields, and deer and turkey woods this fall were not living when just sighting a whitetail deer or wild turkey was something you excitedly told your family and friends about. Now seeing them may be routine.
As game has become more plentiful some hunters have become shooters. Instead of planning how to outwit the game, the plan may have changed to taking longer shots to remain undetectable. If that is allowed to become a cultural shift, the days of fair-chase hunting may be limited. Frankly, the days of hunting as we know it may be limited.
No game species has unlimited numbers and with all of the pressures of loss of habitat, we all must be both conservationists as well as hunters, for our sport to survive.