Varying View of Hunting
As I sit down to write this column, temperatures have dropped and deer season is in full swing. Buck fever definitely has a hold on the youngest members of our household and it reminds me that while I am thrilled my kids love the outdoors and harvesting their own food, I’ll admit my own relationship with the sport is complex.
Deer season was the time of the year that I looked forward to the most in my adolescence. The love of outdoors and unrealistic expectation of killing a record breaking buck had me hooked.
My father was exceptionally supportive of my hunting passion. Looking back, I suspect that his encouragement for my hunting efforts were to try to run as many deer out of the oat field as possible. Nonetheless, it was a win-win situation for the both of us.
As time passed, my passion for deer hunting in Texas transitioned to a passion for livestock production and public land hunting. I have been fortunate my career has taken me to such places as western Montana, and I was suddenly enthralled with chasing bull elk through landscapes so dramatic they almost can’t be described. The concept of what I had loved as a child lost its shine. Maybe I hadn’t been “hunting” so much as just “shooting” deer all along? Suddenly, I found myself scoffing at those who lived and breathed the traditional Texas hunting style.
Twenty years later, I have to eat crow. My son is an avid hunter, just as I was at his age. While I am not excited to hunt deer from a blind looking over a corn feeder myself, it brings me tremendous joy to share this experience with him. Life has a way of teaching us valuable lessons.
Here are a couple that I have come to realize.
- There isn’t a right or wrong way to hunt deer and it is ok to realize that it can be both good and bad for the ranching industry. As I talk with sheep and goat raisers, there are varying views of hunting. Similar to politics, those with the strongest views tend to be on the extremes. Some folks hunt themselves and embrace hunting that takes place on their properties. Others despise hunters as it disrupts their ranching enterprise, but put up with it because of the significant revenue is brings them or the landowner.
- I need to be more careful about developing strong opinions on how people should view the world. Deer hunters are major drivers of rural economies and represent a critical path to preserving the rural lifestyle. While, there may be differences of opinion, I’d argue we have a lot more in common than the average American. We all deeply care about where our food comes from, realize that its important to have a connection to the land and nature, and want nothing more than to pass along these traditions to our kids.
My philosophies on deer hunting are similar to those of my views on raising livestock. The diversity in our industry and varied motivations for being in this business is a strength of agriculture! We raise different breeds, focus on different breeding objectives, manage predators in a different way, etc. Almost, no two sheep and goat ranchers are alike. We should embrace our differences, learn from each other, and most importantly stick together. We share more in common than we might first think.
To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 325-657-7324. For general questions about sheep and goats, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county office. If they can’t answer your question, they have access to someone who can.