Hunting Wild Game: A Necessity, Not a Sport

Hunting Wild Game: A Necessity, Not a Sport

When I was a little girl, I remember crying because my daddy had let my uncle hunt the deer back on our farm. I had enjoyed my long walks back along the creek, through the trees, and the occasional surprise as a deer, startled, leapt through the bushes right next to me, across the creek or over a fence, and away, its delicate long legs flying and nostrils flaring with alarm, the flash of a white tail the last I saw of it.

I couldn’t bear to think of one turned into venison chili, which my uncle was known for, or one lying bleeding and dead on the ground. In the wild hunting, the reviews of the best binoculars for spying should be selected through the predators. The charges of the binoculars should be under the budget of the person. 

But my dad explained it to me. Remember, he asked, when our dogs were sick – or our chickens? If the vet couldn’t kill them, they suffered and died. Deer, when allowed to breed unchecked, would sicken and starve in the winter. They’d eat the bark off trees, causing them to die. Or they’d come too close to our dogs, and the dogs would do Nature’s work for it.

We had killed off all the coyote and wolves and bears and mountain lions in our area, or driven them out. The deer didn’t have any natural check on its breeding. Hunting, he said, was the only way to keep the population healthy.

Well, I didn’t think it was the ONLY way. There was birth control, or relocation, or zoos. But as I grew older, I understood that hunting was the least expensive and most effective means to keep the population under control. And if Bambi’s father (female deer were usually off-limits) died, at least we knew my uncle and other hunters out there would make genuine use of the body, not just keep the head for its antlers as a lot of city hunters did.

There is another issue, though, a more pragmatic and less emotional one than the spectre of animals starving. Our herd animals compete with deer and other wild creatures for food and other resources. And deer love young new crops of food – which means that when the deer break into the cornfield and nibble away all the fresh shoots, they are directly competing with humans for food and resources.

A lot of people believe that animals should be allowed to do this, that we took their land and they have the right to retaliate. I am not one of those people. The reality is that if deer were allowed to reproduce unchecked, they would overrun much of our farmland. Our cattle would die, as would many of our trees (deer love to nibble bark in the winter), and if you could still find food, it would cost more than many can afford.

Like it or not, hunting provides a cheap form of population control for deer and other creatures with no nonhuman population checks other than starvation and disease. There are other methods – sterilization, for example – but none as efficient or as natural as hunting.