My thanks to the internet at large for giving me a seemingly endless well of bad behaviour and boorish opinions on which to base these Taboo of the Day posts. Yes, I fully understand the irony of writing an internet blog and using it as an outlet to make light of the opinions expressed on the internet. Moving on.
So I happen to have an account on a certain multi-billion dollar social network site, which is a trait that I have that in common with a few billion people. On this site, there is a group which I have elected to become a member of, and this group’s purpose is to bring hunters together to talk about things, share photos and stories, and generally serve as a sounding board for hunters in Ontario. As usual, cyberspace (if people even call it that anymore) seems to give some people the confidence to say basically anything they want. Again…irony.
In Ontario, we have a recently enacted addition to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The link to it is here. Basically, no deer parts or products containing any parts of a deer (including urine, gland oils, etc) can be used as a deer attractant. Like it or not, its the law. I for one don’t particularly care as I’ve never used attractants heavily (or really at all) and their use in my circle of hunting friends is limited at best. I’m not a wildlife biologist, nor do I aspire to be one even on an amateur basis, so when “the law” says don’t do it, I don’t do it.
I won’t name the group or the individual in question (that would be bad form) but basically, another member was quite vocal in the fact that they intended to intentionally subvert the above law, primarily because they did not agree with the law’s intent or execution. Which is where this Taboo of the Day comes in.
I said my piece in the forum, because that’s what it is for, but something about the exchange stuck in craw. The person in question had a variety of excuses (which is precisely what they were) including absolute certainty that they would not get caught, a variety of disparaging things to say about the Ministry of Natural Resources and the enforcement practices of Ontario’s Conservation Officers, and a very real belief that their approach was in the best interest of hunters at large (since in their opinion all laws regulating hunting are the product of a weak governmental system and intrusion by the boogieman of ‘anti-hunting’ and therefore are to, via extrapolation, be opposed). It is important to note that the individual in question had no support in the forum and every other post (as of today) was on the ‘legal’ side of the argument.
But this raises a topic that I think needs discussion.
Does opposition philosophically or otherwise to a law, as they pertain to hunting, mean that one should be able to not comply with them. If you’re a rational person, I think you’d probably say that the answer is “no”. When it comes to hunting, the law is the law, like it or not.
Some examples? Sure.
I think that the gun control law in Canada is misguided. But I sure as hell registered every gun I have.
I think that waterfowl seasons are too short. But once the calendar turns and the season closes, I’m not out there still gunning.
Even though I don’t moose hunt I can say after reviewing it that the moose tag system in Ontario is in need of some overhauling, but I think it best that if you don’t have a tag for a bull moose, you don’t shoot a bull moose.
I’m usually not this narrow in my thinking but like I said when it comes to the rules I feel that they have to be followed. And here’s why.
I’ve already gotten a lot of emails (some that were quite personal) since starting this blog from those who feel it is perfectly fine to infringe on game laws provided that they aren’t caught, and they think that my efforts to promote lawful hunting is some sort of infringement on their natural rights. I’d go so far as to call some of it hate mail. That’s fine.
To flog a dead horse, I’ll reiterate something from a few Taboo of the Day posts, a statement that while obvious to me, has caused me no end of controversy in my inbox. Modern hunting is no longer a right. I’m sorry.
The reasons are numerous and certainly fodder for another post, but the bottom line is that we as a group hunt as a privilege in this the 21st century. Very, very few of us rely on wild game for subsistence, and while we as a group certainly do inject millions of dollars into conservation and habitat conservation (facts that we should all be exceedingly proud of) our image is the most important thing we have. Pig-headedly acting outside the legislation is one of the worst things (outside of outright poaching) that we can do as a group.
To put it simply we cannot pick and choose the laws we want to obey. Because even though we act individually, we are judged all together. If you want to have a smooth go of it, play by the rules. I have no sympathy (or time, or even a liking for) those who do it otherwise, because they cost us all. They cost us opportunities to hunt, they cost us landowner permission, and they cost us all the hard work we put in trying to show the non-hunting public the positive side of the pastime we all love so much. Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist, but being a self-important, stubborn jerk in the face of any law or whatever else that you feel does not fit within your worldview of what hunting is or should be (like opinions such as these expressed here for example) only serves to damage what generations ahead of us worked to build, which is a sustainable, respected tradition. There are plenty of those out there who would disparage hunting, we don’t need those within our own ranks to help them out.
But by saying all this, have I become the self-important, stubborn jerk that I so disdain? Maybe. I guess it depends on your perspective. An interesting thing I’ve learned in my life is that you can almost never change a person’s mind; so if you’re nodding in agreement with my opinions, odds are you already felt the same way I do. If you’re so enraged with me that you’re contemplating all sorts of verbal abuse and hate mail, I imagine that you started out this post with that mindset. Which is okay, because I can take it. What I can’t take is the acts of the few denying me and the many patriots of hunting the enjoyment of the thing we love.
So please, when you make that choice of what side of any hunting law you are going to live on, worry a little less about a fine, or getting caught, or coming up with justifications for why what you do is okay, and worry about the future of hunting at large. Because it sounds cliche I know, but is a deer or one more goose or whatever it is you’re chasing, or your own righteous opinions about what is right and wrong in the woods worth hanging a bad name on all of us?
If stating things like that makes me the enemy of the hunting community, maybe I’ve got this whole thing ass-backwards. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.