Sunday, June 12, 2011


I haven’t ranted about anything in a good long time, but what I just saw on TV has brought me back to my cantankerous old self. Sorry. Can’t help myself. And my apologies go out to a good number of my fishing buddies who also happen to enjoy getting out in the woods enjoying the sport of hunting.

I should start be saying that I’m not anti-hunting. In my youth I enjoyed the sport as much as anyone. Just about any game bird or animal was in my sights at one time or another. But we did it a little different back then. A good example would be deer hunting. I did not grow up in a deer hunting Mecca and competition for the available game was fierce. A deer hunting trip in northeastern Oklahoma on public lands was as much an adventure in not getting shot by your fellow hunters as it was an effort to bag a deer. I recollect one morning in particular…

Prior to opening day my partner Roger and I had located a woodland that was filled with deer sign. Hopes were high as we trudged to our pre-selected spots prior to daylight on the first day of the season. As we settled in at the base of two different trees along a game trail and waited for sunrise we were amazed at the sounds we heard. There was a near constant rustling of the leaves and we were certain that our reconnoitering had led us to a place filled with game.

As the sun rose to brighten what had been a very dark night we saw what looked to be blaze orange decorations everywhere. There was nary a tree that was not festooned with the color. We found ourselves in the company of who knows how many city slickers out for a morning of shooting, and much to their chagrin as soon as practical Roger and I made a hasty and noisy exit from the woods. It wasn’t long after that that I gave up deer hunting completely. City slickers with their newly bought 30-30’s on public hunting lands; guys that hit the woods no more than a couple of times a year and didn’t know a deer from Uncle Gus’ favorite Holstein were not our idea of good wood-mates.

But at least those guys were not practicing the tactics that I see on the Sportsman Channel. What I saw this evening that raised my ire was a program titled North American Safari. I only saw a couple of minutes of it but a couple of minutes were enough. The guys were hunting from a camouflaged tree stand and the first shot I saw was on a warthog. I didn’t stay around long enough to know the location, but I did stay long enough to see the arrow take the beast down…as it was eating at a feed trough. A literal feed trough. And if my eyes weren’t fooling me there was a donkey feeding next to him.

What happened to the days when we actually hunted? Back in my deer hunting days I spent more time walking than sitting. Not that I was any good at it, but at least I was practicing the craft the same way that my ancestors did. Where is the woodcraft today? The only challenge in this sort of hunting is accuracy. If you can shoot straight you’ll kill something. Where is stalking and stealth? The only thing these guys learn is that animals eat, and if you put out something tasty and wait long enough, the animals will come. What happened to the hunt in hunting?

I have long chided my friends for “hunting” from a tree stand. They call it deer hunting but I call it “ambushing.” But at least they aren’t hunting over a feed trough.

The folks that run those cattle feed lots out in Kansas had better be wary.