Thursday, August 30, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Are Wolves Going Vegan?

Hunter trends are often a reflection of larger societal trends and the move to social media is no exception. A visit to Facebook or Twitter yields hundreds of thousands of hunters, hunting groups, and companies. I count myself among them. I often find myself in the midst of a debate on a number of issues including baiting, antler point restrictions, crossbow hunting, and “is this a shooter” type questions. By the way, if you’re asking, it probably is. One of the biggest hot button topics out there these days is wolf hunting. You will find very passionate people on both sides of the issue.
Recently, I engaged in a conversation with a wolf hunting opponent that seems to believe wolves have evolved in a very strange way. The only explanation I have for their thought process is that they believe wolves have decided to go vegan. Someone posted a trail camera photo of a group of young wolves scoping out what he says was an area a local farmer buried some dead calves. From there the conversation goes awry. Last names were covered to protect the silly.
Apparently, Lou didn’t see the pasture in the background of the photo. Jerimiah(original poster of the photo) is not amused. It gets better.
So Lou promises not to get into a contest which is disappointing. Luckily, Jim shows up.
Actually Jim, there is no law that says you must send cattle to a rendering plant. In fact, many farmers don’t because of increased regulations on rendering plants. But why would we let the truth get in the way of a perfectly good conspiracy theory. Jim says this photo looks way too good to be real. In fact, he informs us that it was altered. He knows this because of his super duper photo software.
Now that is damning evidence. No trail in the background means it can’t be a trail camera photo. Even if we assume Jim has this awesome software, he obviously is unaware that Facebook compresses your photos to save server space.  So Lou didn’t believe the photo was in cattle territory and Jim swears the photo has been altered. My question is this: Why is this photo so unbelievable to these people? Is it completely uncharacteristic for wolves to seek out a meal? This is what wolves do. They eat meat. Why would this photo need to be altered? There are probably hundreds, if not more, trail camera photos like this. Wolves eat dead livestock all the time.

The only reasonable explanation for this mind set is that wolves have obviously decided to go vegan. These three wolves are innovators. They want to be the friendly, cuddly wolves we see in cartoons. They hired a PR firm to change their image. They hired online reputation management people to hide The Grey from search engine results. Wolves will join deer in farm fields every night. Not to eat the deer but to share the delicious green foliage. Nature will finally live in harmony. Deer and wolf. Wolf and deer. Cattle will no longer be in danger. The sharks in Finding Nemo were trained that “fish are friends.” Wolves will sing to the same beat with different wording. “Cows are comrades.”

I’m not one to demonize wolves. They have a very specific and useful spot in our ecosystem and have for millions of years. However, we’ve had an unchecked population in the Midwest that has grown to unsustainable levels, biologically and sociologically. I understand why it pains these people that even one of these creatures will be killed by a hunter. But in the end, a managed population leads to a healthier population. They are right when stating no one hunted them 500 years ago and they managed to survive. To that I ask, does the landscape around you look as it did 500 years ago?
Friday, August 24, 2012

PostHeaderIcon What Do You Think of The Aporkalypse?

The Sportsman Channel and Pig Man: The Series is heavily promoting a new episode they call Aporkalypse Now. This new episode of Pig Man premieres Sunday, August 26 at 10 PM and features Pig Man Brian Quaca hunting wild pigs in Texas with Ted Nugent. Uncle Ted tends to bring attention, positive and negative, wherever he appears. But Nugent isn’t what is provocative about the episode. Quaca and Nugent hunt pigs from a helicopter with AR style rifles and Nugent is shown shooting pigs with an automatic rifle.

 I have to admit, it looks like a heck of a lot of fun. Shooting fully automatic guns out of helicopters is a dream I didn’t know I had. But after seeing it, I’d like to sign up. The out of control hog population is certainly something that needs to be dealt with. The abundance of wild hogs has led to disease, crop damage, and habitat destruction. Texas hunters donate millions of pounds of wild hog meat to food pantries. There is no doubt that killing hogs is a good thing.

 I’ve always been one to say, “if it’s legal, I’m OK with it.” For example, I’m not a fan of baiting for a variety of reasons. But if someone wants to bait and it’s legal, I have no problem with it. Utilizing a helicopter for hunting hogs makes it easier to find hogs quickly. The producers make it clear that a chase vehicle is rounding up the hogs for processing. I believe Quaca and Nugent are doing everything in their power to make both an entertaining television show and a quality hunt.

However, firing a gun out of a helicopter with great accuracy is next to impossible. Helicopters rigged for television are equipped with very expensive gear to maintain a steady camera shot. It is clear from the video that both Quaca and Nugent are essentially letting the lead fly. There is no doubt that more rounds are missing the pigs than are connecting. What are the odds the bullets that are connecting are hitting vital areas and making quick, clean kills? Deer drives are common in many locales and there is an art to shooting big game on the run. Some hunters master it. Others never figure it out. Buckshot is used where it is legal to increase the odds of a successful shot. If you’ve ever shot at driven deer or pigs, imagine making the same shots from a moving vehicle. Do you think you would be able to shoot accurately?

One of Uncle Ted’s signature lines is “Ethics Schmethics”. He likes being controversial and he’s not one to bow to what others think is the right thing to do. He is who he is and he does what he wants. That is why people love him(or hate him). I would have no problem with Ted and Quaca heading into the Texas plains with night vision scopes and laying waste to as many hogs as possible. But in my mind hunters owe one thing to the animals they pursue; a quick, clean kill. There are no guarantees in hunting, even from the ground. But I don’t believe you can reasonably expect to make a high percentage of accurate shots when shooting from a helicopter. We owe it to our quarry to have at least a reasonable expectation of a quick kill, even if they are pigs.

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