Ask Uncle Joe – Fall-Winter 2014

Dear Uncle Joe:

I follow you guys on Facebook and the thing that strikes me is that you’re missing the part about hunting that makes it like nothing else. I’m a father of two adult children, one hunts with me and the other is not interested. I have been hunting with Harlon for almost 20 years and I can still see the love of the outdoors and of doing what has been passed down through thousands of generations from father to son. When we hunt he still looks like the 10-year-old wide-eyed child I took on his first hunt years ago.

We’re conscious of the obligation we have toward wildlife now and in the future. We are also safety conscious and nothing happens if it does not happen safely. We both know that we will not always take home a deer, and that’s OK with us.

We’re responsible, respectful, and mindful of the role we play in managing the balance between nature and civilization. We’re not the mindless Neanderthals you write about and we’re not decimating the deer population. Just like you we’re trying to make the world a little better, we just do it in a different way. Hopefully you’ll be able to see one day that some of us actually care about nature.

Smyrna, DE

Dear Michael:

We understand the way hunting can be a bonding experience between father and son, but for us it always comes down to the devastating effect hunting has on wildlife and habitat. You and your son are but a tiny part of the larger issue, which is that state-sponsored “wildlife management” is abusive by its very nature. Assuming you’re not the kind of hunter who leaves garbage all over the place, and who doesn’t trespass on private property, your impact is little. By yourselves you’re not affecting the wildlife population much (though you’re needlessly destroying the lives of individuals, and that is inexcusable), but when your actions are combined with those of thousands of other hunters you become a significant problem that needs to be stopped. We know that many hunters care about nature and habitat, but you’re missing the most important thing – that habitat itself doesn’t mean much without the life it supports. Individual lives do not matter to hunters, but individual lives are what wildlife and habitat protection is all about. It’s about the mother who cares for and raises her kits, or the lone adult who enjoys the sunshine and goes about his day doing the things he does. Hunters do not see individuals as having any value, and that’s why it’s so easy for you to destroy them. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see one day that individuals do matter, since without individuals there is nothing. The next time you see the love of the outdoors in your son’s eyes, think of the love of the outdoors that each individual animal has as well.

Uncle Joe

Dear Uncle Joe:

I’m a conservationist who knows that hunting is not the problem, urban sprawl is. One of the worst things for wildlife is the game of golf. Now you probably support golf because golfers do not kill animals (trying to use your terminology here) but golf is bad for the wildlife and the environment. Golf courses are 150 acres or more of clear cut property, sprayed heavily with pesticides and aside from the animals that are present in the early morning hours before any Tiger Woods wannabes show up it’s a huge area that is no good for anything. Local governments love golf courses because country clubs pay taxes but conservationists despise them because we see habitat that has been destroyed and turned into playgrounds for the rich. So Joe, why does your Committee not campaign against golf?

Augusta, GA

Dear Jack:

You’re right – golf courses are not wildlife-friendly areas, and we’ve actively opposed the efforts of golf clubs that have instituted extermination campaigns against geese and coyotes. Golf courses do take land away from wildlife as does development, and they do contribute to the toxicity of the soil. Golf is not, however, a sport whose purpose is to kill as is hunting.  There’s hope that one day golf courses will go “green,” and provide better and cleaner habitat, but there’s no hope that hunting will modify itself to stop killing.

Uncle Joe

Dear Uncle Joe:

Humans have been hunting forever and unless you don’t believe in evolution or natural selection you have to acknowledge that we’re been a part of the natural world since the time when land animals crawled from the sea. The wildlife you see today while camping is here because of hunters’ stewardship of the land and its animals. I get it – you don’t like seeing animals hurt. Neither do I. But we’re a part of this web of life and like it or not wildlife is here because we’ve protected it and nurtured it to be here. Sportsmen benefit wildlife. I wish you could understand that.

West Fargo, ND

Dear Markus,

We were here when land animals crawled from the sea? Did we get pictures?

Yes, it’s clear that humans have played a hand in how wildlife has evolved over the last 10,000 or so years, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Let’s think about how hunting techniques have changed, and let’s look at how that has changed wildlife.

When people were hunting animals with rocks and spears, animals who were fast afoot and ran quickly and boldly through open spaces often survived. Quick moving targets are difficult to hit and wind gusts through open spaces changed the trajectory of thrown stones and spears.

But with today’s high-powered rifles and bows, animals that speed off in the open do not have the advantage they once did. Those who are shy and timid hide more and often elude hunters.

Now, for a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. [Simone Ciuti et al Human selection of elk behavioural traits in a landscape of fear], researchers outfitted 122 elk with GPS collars, and tracked their movements. They found two different ‘personality’ types: “bold runners” and “shy hiders.”

“Shy hiders” were more likely to avoid hunters and survive, but they were at a distinct disadvantage when hunting season ended. Because of their shy and secretive nature, they became easy prey for wolves and grizzlies. So when human hunters kill off the fast and bold animals, they leave those to breed who are likely more vulnerable to their natural predat ors.
The moral of the story is that hunters interfere with the natural process and do not benefit wildlife in any way.

Uncle Joe


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561