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OPINION - Into the woods

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Wisconsin has the strongest hunting traditions of any state I’ve ever lived in. In New York restrictive gun laws make hunting a more difficult and expensive activity. In Connecticut urbanization makes hunting impractical in many areas.

I don’t hunt, but I’m supportive of those who do. And I’m amazed that anti-hunting sentiments in Wisconsin seem to be on the rise.

Anti hunters are in two categories – moralists who object to killing animals. Their numbers don’t change much. And there’s no arguing with them. Anyone who feels strongly enough to protest hunting on moral grounds probably can’t be persuaded. I believe the larger group of hunting opponents fall into the ‘negative impact’ category. These are people who’ve been influenced by irresponsible hunting and now see the sport as a nuisance. This folks are persuadable, and they can be won over based on the way hunters act.

If someone accidentally shoots my dog during the gun-deer season, my attitudes on hunting would change. If my car, or barn, or home had bullet holes in them, I’d be less supportive. If I have a well-armed hunting party that’s tracking deer across my land without my permission, I’d have a problem with that, too. (Moreso if someone mouthed off to me if they were told to leave.)  All of the activities I’ve described are not only unsafe, but illegal. And while I support hunting, I also support prosecuting the few who don’t follow the law.

Hunters are very good at self-policing. One of the best traditions of hunting is speaking up when someone sees something unsafe. Safety is taught and passed down from older to younger hunters. Anyone who takes part in a hunt has a self-interest in safety.

There’s some snow on the ground. Deer are plentiful. I wish everyone who’s heading into the woods a successful and safe hunt.

Chris Conley
11.21.13