Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hunting and Trapping in the 21st Century

Minnesota's firearms deer season opened on Saturday morning. The deer season at Of Woods and Words came to an unceremonious end on Sunday morning.

Andy was home with a six -oint buck in the back of his truck before noon on Sunday. Bada bing, bada boom. 

In the past, the deer season's been a bit more climatic. In other years, Andy hasn't shot a deer until the second weekend of the season, so there's been more time for tension and anticipation to build as we ponder  the questions: will he even see a deer this season? Will he get one? This year, the answers to those questions came in very quick succession.

Apparently those endless hours of scouting, sighting in rifles and figuring out just where to set up the deer stand paid off. It feels like each season Andy approaches the deer season with more seriousness; this year he actually took off the entire first week of the season from work so he could devote his all energies to hunting. Of course, luck has a fair amount to do with any hunter's success, but the fact there seem to be deer running all over the place this autumn certainly was a factor in the speedy close to this year's deer season.

I'm happy to know that we'll have a full freezer of venison this winter. Over the last couple winters, I've gotten accustomed to have a stockpile of this lean protein to stretch out the food budget. Of course, if you figure in the expense of Andy's new rifle, scope and various other deer hunting accessories purchased over the last month, this venison has a pretty expensive cost per pound! But since I do the vast majority of the grocery shopping, I'll just consider a freezer full of venison a major windfall. ;)

Anyone who eats meat really should consider that their meal came from an animal that at one time was living and breathing just like them. But in this world of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it's easy to distance ourselves from what we're actually eating. One thing I've grown to appreciate about hunting is that it allows us to become very well-acquainted with our food. You don't take dinner for granted after you've spent countless hours butchering a deer, let me tell you. I'm glad that Andy's hunting hobby not only keeps him happy, but also keeps us eating local, nutritional meat most of the year.

Hunting's been a bit of a hot button issue in Minnesota this year since the Department of Natural Resources introduced the first ever Minnesota wolf hunting. The wolf firearm season runs in concert with this year's firearms deer season and there will also be wolf trapping season later on. I'm not apathetic to wolf hunting in Minnesota, but I do feel fairly neutral on the issue.

While I certainly think the Minnesota wolf population can sustain a hunt, I worry that a wolf hunt panders to the scare tactics we were taught from Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. I'm sure a wolf coat is mighty warm and would make a fantastically cozy fur ruff, but it seems so wasteful to end another life just for fur. To me, hunting only make sense if we're truly using it for subsistence and I have a hard time fitting wolf hunting into any idea of subsistence in the 21st century. 

Taking other animals' lives will always be a complicated business; one that we need to consider carefully and not do lightly. While I'm not morally opposed to hunting or trapping, I was pretty sad about the disappearance of my two beaver friends, who had been busily building a dam and lodge in a low spot that I passed every day on my way to work.
I'm pretty sure a local trapper got both beavers a couple weeks ago. The beavers hadn't exactly chosen a great place to winter and the water was so shallow in this spot, they likely would have had a very chilly winter. Perhaps the trapper ended up saving the beavers from a miserable winter and he certainly saved a lot of the young trees in the area, which the beavers had been harvesting like mad. But I'll miss watching those beavers busily working away in their little corner of the earth. They seemed like such friendly little beasts and there's something nice about passing some other critters who were hard at work while I was heading off to my own job. I know there are more than enough beavers in this corner of the world - it's just that I was particularly fond of these particular beavers. 

I'm not really sure where I'm going for this post. Maybe I'm just trying to point out that hunting and trapping brings out all sorts of feelings in me. I'm thrilled that hunting allows us to eat locally and I'm glad that hunting seasons help keep animal populations in check. I'm sad to think that some people may hunt an animal (*cough* wolves *cough*) because they fear and/or hate it. And it's hard when animals you grew fond of disappear because of hunting or trapping.

Perhaps all these conflicting thoughts and feelings boil down to this: hunting and trapping are okay by me, but please remember to take only what you truly need from this earth.


2 comments:

  1. A very thoughtful and honest post, Ada. I have the same feelings about hunting. While I myself could never shoot something, I totally respect hunting and living close to the land. We are all animals. Pray and predators. It's the natural way. Most people who are anti-hunting, think nothing about purchasing a steak from the frozen meat section of their grocery store, without thought about how that meat got there. Hunting is much more humane than how we raise and kill cattle for mass consumption.

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  2. I actually think hunting/growing your own food is a good thing. If people had a better understanding of where their food came from they probably would choose to eat more healthy and more sustainably.

    Congrats to Andy on his early deer--- even if it was anti-climactic!

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