Hunters can’t afford costly misfires


Considering how much time we hunters spend sighting in rifles and dusting clay pigeons, it is surprising how often we shoot ourselves in the foot.And in the increasingly volatile minefield of school shootings and gun control debate, hunters can’t afford to be wreckless.
The general public considers hunters in general as careless, thoughtless animal killers. To many non-hunters, we make a sport out of shooting things, causing them pain and seeing them die. We are bloodthirsty barbarians who shoot first and ask questions later.
Of course that isn’t true of most hunters — but it doesn’t matter. A few bad apples can spoil the whole basket.
I saw the handiwork of one of those bad apples during the rifle deer season this past fall. My son, brother and I were hunting the PPL public hunting land near Exchange and I was driving out a mountainside stretch through a wooded patch. Nearly halfway into the drive, I noticed a mound of brown-and-white fur laying on the ground under a small tree branch. Upon closer inspection, it was a young buck that was likely shot earlier that morning. It was one tine short of the state’s antler restrictions, and likely the victim of an overzealous hunter whose trigger finger was faster than his brain cells — if he had any to start with.
The situation was tragic for many reasons. This was a young buck that would never have a chance to reach its potential as something truly worth pursuing. While some bear, coyote or other predator likely enjoyed the fruit of those spoils later that night, it was still a wasted kill. Worst of all, it was yet another sign of hunters who fit the mold the general public likes to build for us all — and only verifies those stereotypes for the people who ultimately have their fingers on the future of gun control in our country.
Too often, hunters would rather unload a barrage of bullets on a running deer in a bad shooting position than patiently wait for a more secure shot. Perhaps it is because so many hunters feel the deer herd is dwindling and those opportunities come by less and less often. But that is no excuse for careless decisions that can cause a seriously unhealthy ripple effect for hunters and the passion we all share.
So the next time you find yourself in a hunting party and someone starts to brag about taking risky, careless shots, don’t be afraid to speak up. You never know what impressionable young shooter may be listening to the same conversation — and which non-hunters will be looking for more validation that we hunters fit the redneck stereotypes they place on us.
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~ by zaktansky on March 29, 2013.

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