Sunday, November 23, 2014

Death of a Hunter

Disclaimer: I am not a hunter, nor do I play one on TV.

I read today about a man in Windsor NJ who accidentally shot himself while duck hunting. The man was 45 years old, out hunting with his father, who is 75 years old. Both men were licensed experienced hunters.

While many people responded sympathetically, the anti-gun/anti-hunting people had some very unkind things to say.

What's really sad is that the the guy who wished the family would die in a car accident got 17 "likes."

What is the world coming to when we can't even have sympathy for a tragic accident? And even those who don't make fun of or wish ill upon this poor man's family are using the tragedy as a bill board to call attention to their agenda. On twitter I read:

Man shot dead in West Windsor (NJ) hunting… || #GunFAIL 29th hunter shot, 9th hunting fatality this month.

But is that true? I went to the web site of the Committee to Abolish all Sport Hunting, which maintains a national list of all hunting accidents as an argument against hunting. For this month, nation-wide, they reported three this month, in MN, ND and LA. I guess four if you include this incident in NJ.

But let's say for the sake of argument that 9 hunters died this month. Does that mean we should abolish hunting? Approximately 3,000 people will die in car accidents this month, yet I don't see the same level of public outcry against owning and driving automobiles, or even against racing them. If the argument was against accidental deaths then we should go after the things that have the highest accident rate first.

New Jersey is in the midst of a hunting crisis. Game animal populations are so high that entire ecosystems are threatened. Every winter I watch out my back window as more and more deer destroy trees trying to forage for food. Later in the winter I see them trudging at all hours of the day and night, searching for food that's all been eaten, their ribs clearly visible.

With no natural predators, they overpopulate the area until there is no food left, and they are wandering onto the road, causing accidents, sometimes fatally. Yet those deaths are ignored in the hunting debate.

My anti-hunting friends suggest that we should put out deer food laced with contraceptives, Of course, this ignores the harm done to the environment by contraceptives in the water supply, and the effect it will have on other animal populations. Others say catch the deer and surgically sterilize them, but this is expensive, time consuming, cruel, and ultimately futile as a method of controlling deer population. And it's not just deer. Squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs, and other animals are severely overpopulated, leading to stress and disease among animal populations.

What's wrong with allowing people to kill and eat those animals? Hunting not only controls the animal population, but provides a food source, not only for the hunters themselves, but often for the underprivileged in society.

That's not to trivialize this story either, merely to point out that this man did nothing wrong (except to break the rules of firearm safety). Painting him, or other hunters, as evil is itself depraved. To the man who died, and his family, my heart goes out to them.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


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