It takes mere seconds for a grouse to roll off the side of a truck in the searing July heat. In the past year, almost that much sunlight scorched my eyes and ears. Amid a sea of boisterous coyotes, antelope jackals and wild goats, I witnessed the mating ritual of a brazen indigo deer and its calico calf.
Might the images of my rustic experience make you wonder whether or not you could actually catch a buck if you could hike off into the woods and let your dog pick him up?
The truth is hunters are saving the wildlife and the environment around you. Hunters take responsibility for raising America’s wildlife populations.
The International Wildlife Conservation Research Council (IWCC) has analyzed data from a host of US and international studies. The organization concluded that, without people, deer and other game would be reduced by as much as 75 percent in the U.S. Sadly, that’s not too much to ask to provide the necessary resources to save America’s species from a detrimental decline.
And the numbers only get worse. With the decline of elephants in Africa and tigers in Asia, this information could become a reality. When hunters took in only two-thirds of what they legally allowed in America, only 2.9 million deer were killed in the wild in 2014-2015.
Hunters are not just profitable to the state and federal governments and land managers, they’re creating economic opportunities. Young people — not just middle class families, but some of America’s poorest children — may not have had the chance to see the range of wild animals they’ve dreamed of.
Hunters are also saving public lands from degradation. Landowner feedback to the IWCC survey showed that the biggest resistance to a deer hunt was due to the land’s “unfriendly neighbors” — second only to deer themselves. State land managers knew a deer hunt would provide a huge economic boost to the state, and called it a critical resource for protecting deer in public lands.
We’re far too close to reality where this vital opportunity to conservation could be lost. Despite eliminating the illegal so-called “black-market” kill, the US kills nearly 20 million deer annually. The meat ends up in “trash bins,” according to a report in Canada’s National Post. It’s time to take an inventory of what we eat.
If hunters were to be successfully regulated to bring in only one acre of net-tipped tags per hunter, America could see a historic reduction in the number of deer on private lands. Cattle could thrive on these lands. These lands could feed people in food deserts in poverty stricken communities.
If hunters really want to share our country’s bounty, we need to take a cue from the Austrian Erpenkläsacher, a German hunting fanatic who spends his days filming deer, falcons and other wild animals for a living. The man called himself “the most romantic hunter in the world.” I think it might be time for a representative.
Linda Krop is the President of the Hunter’s Foundation.