Are We Our Own Worst Enemy?

by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC

Last week I posted a DNR press release announcing the publication of the first year of managing for CWD here in southcentral Michigan. I was surprised by a few responses to that report. But what stemmed out of that dialogue reminded me of a larger issue than just hunters who are not informed about the wildlife they manage - but the attacking that we as hunters personally do to each other. There are lots of posts about not supporting a company because of a stance they take on hunting, or complaints about anti-hunters, or even the decline of hunter numbers over time. But the real issue, and the heart of the problem I see - is that if we cannot be a uniformed ‘largest armed army,’ then divided we'll fall.

Warbach.jpgThere are many different forms of wildlife management and recreation. We have hunting, fishing and trapping. All respected methods in their own rights. Each component has its own mess of controversy - amongst the ranks of hunters, trappers, and anglers. Rather than focusing on our areas of disagreement, why not focus on what we share to be true? I am most familiar with hunters, so I will stick to that topic.

In the hunting community I see barriers between crossbows and traditional archery, hound hunters and landowners, traditional deer management hunters and quality deer management hunters, conflicts between different species of hunting interest, private land and public land, northern and southern hunters, etc. Even the most ‘like-minded’ hunters have areas of drastic separation that seem to cause strong divisions.

Rather than be the cause of our own destruction, why can’t we agree to disagree, or at least respect that we have different perspectives with different backgrounds and goals? Can we agree that our hunting community is part of who we are, being outdoors is vital, providing quality meat for our families is essential, following laws is mandatory, ethical hunting and harvest is required, and the existence of hunting is crucial for the future existence of the wild things we deeply care for?

I am grateful for the hunting community who has welcomed me in with open arms! My passion for managing habitat, sitting in my tree stand with my bow, following a dog searching for birds in the grasslands, walking a trap line and much more, is because of this community I love and respect so much. Let’s show each other that side more often. Let’s take part in celebrating accomplishments, questioning preconceptions, thoughtfully listening and considering what someone else has to share. Let us be the community I know we can be, putting our differences aside, and celebrating what is held common and dear - and protecting the future we desperately hope for. For each of us know, the void would be deep without this experience called ‘hunting.’

Showing 5 reactions

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  • commented 2016-09-14 09:34:00 -0400
    I am not arguing against antler point restrictions. I support voluntary apr and am opposed to mandatory apr. I think the best system is what we used to have whereby every hunter has the opportunity to choose which buck to shoot under a voluntary system. I think many hunters would still choose to pass up young bucks, as I would. If you are correct that 70% of hunters support apr, what’s wrong with giving hunters the choice? I’m agreeing with Anna’s blog in agreeing to disagree with you about MANDATORY APR!
  • commented 2016-09-12 16:00:36 -0400
    RPS, you are living in the past. Period. And I think you totally missed the point that Anna was making. You still want to argue against apr’s even when hunters in a given area want them. They must want them more than the old combo tags, if they voted it in, right?
  • commented 2016-09-09 22:35:13 -0400
    When all MI deer hunters had the freedom to choose which buck to shoot, whether it be a spike or a buck with 3 or 4 points per antler, 100% of hunters had the opportunity to agree to agree or agree to disagree. In every opinion survey conducted by the DNR a higher percentage of hunters preferred a combination license with one tag unrestricted and one tag restricted to bucks with at least 4 points on one antler. In the most recent DNR survey, 60 some percent, but not 66 percent, supported current antler point restrictions. When every deer hunter has the freedom to choose their preferred target, the way it used to be, 100% beats 60 to 70% every time!!!
  • commented 2016-09-09 16:56:57 -0400
    Times are a changing. When you have roughly 70% of the hunters in one area “agreeing to agree”, that’s about as good as it gets, RPS, Don’t you think? Do 70% of the yoopers “agree to agree”? I think it’s best that we let the hunters of the area, decide what they want for regs.
  • commented 2016-09-09 15:49:25 -0400
    Great points Anna that I totally agree with. The best way to accomplish what you suggest is to get back to deer hunting regulations that permit each hunter to decide for themselves which bucks they choose to take based upon what they see and their management philosophy. Not that many years ago, combo deer licenses were uniform across the state, with one tag unrestricted and one tag restricted to bucks with 4 points on one antler. That licensing system was popular and widely accepted and allowed hunters to agree to disagree about their choice of harvest. The spread of mandatory antler point restrictions in many parts of the state makes it impossible to agree to disagree when it comes to buck harvest. Hunters who live in areas where mandatory antler point restrictions exist must agree to agree with those regulations, if they choose to hunt there, or go elsewhere. Going back to regulations that give all MI deer hunters the freedom to choose which deer they decide to shoot will give more hunters the opportunity to agree to disagree!