In the Field: 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.

There 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.’

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