Friday, September 28, 2012

Nuse: No link between hunting and violence

Here's an article quoting Eric Nuse, former executive director of Orion and current Orion board member. The article was written in response to a reader who is opposed to hunting and equates teaching hunting to youth with an increase in violent crime.
From the Sunday Rutland Herald
Jensen Afield, for Sept. 23
By Dennis Jensen
The doe came out of the thicket behind the house and was feeding on the luscious tops in the flower garden, not 20 yards from the back door.
We had company that morning and I called one young woman over to the kitchen window.
“Take a look,” I told her. “Is she beautiful, or what?”
“Yeah, so beautiful you’d like to blow her brains out,” was her response.
I didn’t take the time to explain to my rude visitor that I can hold a wild animal in high esteem and still value it for the venison it could provide.
I didn’t go off on how she came from a very populated state where hunting is viewed as something of an aberration and that she, like so many other people these days, have lost touch with the natural world.
Instead, I just shook my head, knowing that there was no way I was going to change her suburban mind.
Even here, in rural Vermont, there are folks who hate the fact that, every fall, men, women and children of all colors and backgrounds take to the woods to hunt wild game.
The people who oppose hunting are, of course, entitled to their opinions, as misinformed as they may be, and they sometimes sound off on their views in letters to the editor.
But one recent letter got me thinking about how truly removed from reality some people are, these days.
It’s one thing to disagree with hunting, to take a stand against it. But it’s quite another to go so far as to suggest that maybe there is a correlation between taking young people into the woods to teach them about hunting and the growing incidents of violence and crime.
“And we wonder why people in this area are preying on each other more and more,” she wrote. “Maybe they learned the love of killing from their tender youth.”
Of course, she could not back up that bizarre theory because there is nothing out there to suggest that young people who are introduced to hunting go on to become violent criminals.
In fact, for one guy who should know, it is quite the opposite.
Eric Nuse, a former Vermont game warden, is a board member and former executive director of Orion, the hunter ethics organization out of Ithaca, N.Y.
Here is the basic Orion take on hunting, in a nutshell: It calls for safety first, obeying the law, the clean kill, an “if you kill it, you eat it” philosophy, fair chase and supporting conservation efforts.
Nuse said that studies have shown that hunting and violence simply do not go hand in hand.
“I know there has been research, through the use of brain scans, that the part of the brain that lights up when a person is involved in hunting activity is completely different from the part of the brain that is stimulated through those violent video games,” Nuse said.
“If you’re involved in hunting and you have a mentor that is teaching you the right way to do it, that increases your reverence for life because you understand the whole circle of life,” he said.
The bottom line is that death is part of the cycle of life, Nuse said.
“If you’re going to live, survive as a living organism you have to eat other things that are alive or were alive — plant or animal — so you understand where you are in the circle of life,” he said.
So where do these opinions linking violent behavior and introducing kids to hunting come from, Nuse was asked.
“It comes from ignorance,” he said. “These people see all killing as violent. But in the context of hunting it isn’t, especially in the context of how we hunt and why we hunt.”
Hunting is a whole lot more than taking an animal’s life, according to Nuse.
“They just don’t get it. They don’t understand that hunting is about the hunt and the final act of pulling the trigger is a goal of hunting but it’s just a very small part of hunting and, quite often, it doesn’t occur.”
The data surrounding Vermont deer hunting backs up what Nuse says. In 2010, hunters shot 6,663 bucks during the 16-day firearms deer season. More hunters take part in this season than any other.
While there is no way of knowing, for certain, how many people who hold a hunting license take part in the buck season, data from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Departments shows that 79,603 resident and non-resident licenses were sold in 2010.
It is well known that the vast majority of those holding hunting licenses do partake in the buck season and it is widely believed that well below 10 percent of those hunters are successful at tagging a buck each year.
Yet, every year, those deer hunters go back into the woods. If hunting was about killing, then there’s an awful lot of unsuccessful “killers” out there.
There must be something else going on.
Nuse said he believes that most of the people who oppose hunting have lost touch with the world of nature.
“It comes from people who are disconnected from nature,” he said. “You wouldn’t hear that kind of talk from some farm family. I suspect this is a person who never had a connection with nature, other than looking at it from a screen, the Bambi, Walt Disney view that one day the lions will lay down with the lambs.”
People who have never hunted often have a distorted view of what hunting is, Nuse said.
“It’s quite different than what they think. A lot of people think that when a hunter goes out he kills something,” he said. “But the reality is every hunter knows that is not true. A lot of people don’t understand about the preparation and the effort and how much satisfaction comes out of it without a kill at the end of the hunt. If somebody wants to call that fun, well and good. I call that deeply satisfying.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hunting Awareness Training for College Students

I just got back from instructing at the New England Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow workshop. The college student in this picture went from having never shot a gun (or having hunted) to this. Twenty students from Maryland to Maine attended. All are wildlife-related majors that have never taken hunter ed or hunted.

It is great to be part of the great awakening about the joy of hunting that nearly all of the participants experienced. The notion that hunting equals killing went away pretty fast. This bird is probably still running around after a few shots sped him up!

Congrats to the Wildlife Management Institute and the Max McGraw Wildlife Institute for developing and rolling this program out nationwide. Check out the CLfT website for more info.