Foster: The hidden fundamentals of hunting

Thousands of years ago, humans hunted as a means of survival. Today, mankind doesn’t have to hunt to provide food for the family, but that doesn’t mean the art of hunting has faded out of existence. I proudly call myself a hunter.

As one of the dominant species on earth, mankind has struggled to live in harmony with animals. From the illegal poaching of elephants to accidentally stepping on an anthill, humans have a history of conflict with animals. Nature and wildlife conservation efforts are prevalent today; however, wildlife management programs, parks and education services cost money.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, these programs are partially funded from tax revenues, around $200 million comes from hunters’ federal excise taxes. Without individuals paying for hunting gear and tags, those programs would not have sufficient funding.

“Much of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife budget, and what we use to test animals for disease, monitor populations and improve habitat… A lot of that comes from hunting license dollars,” said Michelle Dennehy, a spokesperson for Oregon Fish and Wildlife.

In addition to conserving habitats, hunting can form new territories. I’ve hunted ducks, geese and pheasant with my dad since I was a little girl. The property we hunt on each year has been purposefully managed to attract a large amount of waterfowl.

From experience, I can tell you that the property serves not only as a hunting ground, but as a home. Blue Herons, hawks, golden eagles, deer, black birds and a variety of colorful creatures have claimed spots on that land. Without management, those animals wouldn’t have that habitat. Hunting is more than a gun versus an animal.

Even if you don’t agree with hunting as a sport, remember that hunters aren’t carelessly waving guns and shooting fluffy animals.

Hunting is a sport and the participants have to follow rules. For example, we don’t pick up a gun from the kitchen table, march outside and start shooting in random directions. Procedures and laws governing the sport must be adhered to. Ethical hunters demand respect for their quarry, there are some hunters who don’t agree with the sport.

In 1973, youth under the age of 17 became required to complete hunter education. In 2008, hunters who purchased a turkey or large game animal tag became required to report the success or lack of success during the hunting season. These reports help biologists determine what changes, if any, to make in game management for the next year.

I had to complete hunter education when I was 12, before participating in the sport. Hunting is thrilling, exciting and taught me a large amount of responsibility. I learned at an early age that guns are not toys and must be treated accordingly. The animals we hunt deserve our respect, and therefore, should not be hunted out of season.

I am a hunter, not a killer. I will continue to hunt as I grow up, but I respect that some people do not agree with the practice. Nevertheless, I hope people can open themselves up to learning more about hunting than what is often depicted.

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Jessica Foster

Jessica Foster