Monday, December 14, 2009

Shooting Bambi

I have a big soft-spot in my heart for animals. From my home office window I have a view of both woodland and farmland, and often gaze out at them when I’m writing. I watch squirrels gathering nuts, woodpeckers rat-a-tatting, cats prowling, opossums lumbering, and deer grazing. I especially love when spotted fawns venture out of the woods onto my back lawn, sometimes coming close to my window. It makes me feel at one with nature.

Until I hear the shotguns.

Two days ago, I paused to watch a herd of deer grazing in the farm field. A buck with big antlers monitored a group made up of does and young deer just out of fawn stage. I went back to my writing and suddenly heard the deep BANG, BANG, BANG of a powerful shotgun. The herd scattered, but the shooting went on for at least an hour. Later, at dusk, the herd were back, minus the buck and one deer. Obviously, someone had a new trophy for his wall. It is open season for deer hunting, after all.

Seeing the herd, I held my breath, praying the hunters were gone. Had I not had an injured foot, necessitating the use of crutches on a snowy, slippery deck, I would have gone outside and banged pots together to shoo off the herd. All I could do was open my door and yell.

I don’t understand hunting for sport. For food, out of necessity, yes. To cull a herd to keep the deer from starvation, okay. But for sport? Absolutely not. What’s fun about using a weapon to kill a defenseless animal? I mean, seriously, why not shoot babies? It’s just as unfair. If someone wants target practice, use clay pigeons, or tin cans on a fence.

A year or two ago, a court case made the local news wherein a woman DID bang pots together to warn deer in her yard that hunters were nearby. She did this on her own property. The hunters sued – AND WON. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? If I want to bang pots together on my property, can’t I?

According to my husband the lawyer, the answer is yes, if the hunt is for sport, but no if you’re interfering with a cull sanctioned by the DNR. Public domain rights supercede individual rights. He said it comes under Public Safety and Welfare. For example, we have the freedom of speech, but it’s against the law to cry “Fire” in a public place.

Yet if a hunter is looking to kill a deer, cull or not, he’s still doing it for sport, so why can’t he kill it on the move? Does it have to be standing still, a stationary target? I understand why the woman banged her pots and pans. I wouldn’t want to see deer shot from my window either.

There are many issues I haven’t addressed, obviously, because of space limitations, such as canned hunts, or hunting from helicopters. What are your views on the subject? Do you support hunting for sport? Would you take action if you saw an animal about to be shot?

Kate, hesitant to glance out the window