I have been teaching hunter safety education for 23 years and I ask students the question at the beginning of each class: “Why do you hunt?” I’ve heard some very different answers over the years. Some may say “For the meat,” for others, “Share good times outdoors with loved ones or friends”, either, “It’s just what we do, our family has always hunted.” Some have said that they like to combine wits with Big Buck or Boss Gobbler.
I have come to the conclusion that deep down in every hunter; I don’t care what descriptive word or words you put in front of him, he hunts because he’s in our bloodline. All hunters, we all come from the first human pair that God created. God’s command in the biblical book of Genesis for us to have dominion over the flying creatures in the heavens, the animal creatures that walk on the earth, and the fish that swim in the waters of the earth. That is why he created us in the end; thus, we would have something to eat, in addition to the vegetation. No matter why a person says that he hunts, it boils down to “Sport hunting”, “Trophy hunting”, “Predator Hunting” or hunt to eat; they all have one thing in common which is “Wildlife Management.” Wildlife management is one way we are following God’s command to have dominion over creatures, both wild and domesticated. It is better that all of us hunters stick together and stop finding fault with our reasons for hunting and just hunting; whether with a longbow, recurve, compound bow or crossbow, muzzleloader or rifle.
All hunters must be conservationists, that is also part of hunting. You have to return something. Remember Conservation is the wise use of a resource; while Preservation is protecting a resource without any consumptive use of it. It’s like putting a big fence around an area and letting nature take care of itself. Animals can reproduce at a very alarming rate; for example, if you fenced off an area of, say, ten acres. If there are about five pairs of deer, a good habitat could support them for a year or two. But when they multiply, the habitat is soon destroyed, the natural foods in the habitat become scarce, famine and disease set in, and they would soon die. Sounds cruel right? Hunting and trapping are wildlife management tools (conservation practices). Which brings us to another topic, wildlife feeding/baiting. Although it may feel like you are helping deer with an animal feeder, what you are doing is concentrating a number of animals in the area around the feeder. That spreads diseases throughout the species. Some diseases are spread through fecal matter left around the feeder and some animals get some diseases through their foot pads and/or hooves. Some diseases are spread by insects, the spread can be accelerated by the proximity of the animals at their feeder.
Also, some wild animals can be killed just by a moldy corn source. A food plot is a better way to improve habitat. It does not concentrate say, the deer in such a small area.
Also with a feeder, ask yourself if that is what a hunter considers a fair chase. Might make it easier to take on new hunters to get their “First Deer”. But it sure won’t teach them woodworking or valuable hunting skills. There is a lot of trial and error in hunting. Some skills we can learn from our older hunting partners, some tips can be found in hunting books and magazines. Other lessons you have to learn the hard way. Hunter education serves to teach us to be safe in the woods, but some hunting skills are often passed on to students or discussed in classes.
Some of the topics are; First Aid, Survival, ATV Safety, Safe Handling of Firearms, Tree Safety, Bow Hunting, Hunting Ethics and much more. If you have not yet taken your Hunter Security Certification Class, as instructors we recommend; and challenge you to take a class to learn how you can enjoy hunting and do it more safely. Even if you don’t hunt and have family and children who want to hunt, you would benefit from taking a class.
In West Virginia, people born on or after January 1, 1975 must have taken a class and be certified before they can purchase any hunting or trapping licenses. To find a class near you, visit wvhuntered.com and follow the links to find a class. Or visit the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources website at www.WVhunt.com, where you can also purchase your hunting licenses online. Now is also a good time to appreciate nature, when you hunt you see many things that happen there. The beauty of painted autumn leaves, the musky smell of rotting leaves underfoot, wildlife, some natural foods, or the sound of a small stream running or gushing. Then there are those beautiful sunsets, you don’t want to miss them. Remember to take a child hunting, they grow fast. Maybe you have hunting skills, lessons and memories to share with them; just another reason Why do we hunt?