Our annual madness has begun. It’s deer hunting season. Over the next couple of months dozens of people, almost all strangers to us, will fire rifles across our property, release packs of half-starved dogs to chase deer across our farm (sometimes tearing down fences as they run from them), park their trucks in our fields and pastures and generally disturb our peace. They’ll all be trespassing and poaching, and in all likelihood they’ll all get away with it. We have a big county and only a couple of game wardens.
Before the season is over, based on past experience, I will have confrontations with some of these “hunters.” They will deny that they are hunting. They will claim that they are only searching for lost dogs, waiting on a friend, or some such other lie as they sit in their trucks on the side of the road.
Each of the last two years we’ve had chickens killed by hunting dogs. There is a significant risk it will happen again.
Last year one of them was racing down the road in this truck and he ran over and killed our neighbors’ dog, as their horrified ten-year old son watched. The driver didn’t stop or even slow down.
Two years ago one of them stopped his truck, got out and (while standing in the road) fired his rifle across one of our fields, while I was sitting in the woods at the edge of the field, hunting responsibly on private, posted land. He never saw me (even though I was wearing my obligatory blaze orange). He could have killed me. Sadly, last year someone in our community was shot and killed while walking his dog on a public road, by a “hunter” hunting from his truck and firing across a public road.
I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type these words. It is a tough time of year for us country-dwellers.
There are responsible hunters of course. Folks who are careful. Folks who ask permission of the landowner before hunting. Folks who don’t use dogs or hunt from inside a truck.
Some of our friends have given up hunting during rifle season. The dog hunters just make it too dangerous. So they only hunt in muzzle-loader season, which is the two weeks before all the yahoos come out with their dogs and rifles.
At some point I’ll go out. I still haven’t finished the two deer I put up last year, so I may only take one this year. When I do, I will do so reverently and responsibly.
As for the knuckleheads who mess up our lives this time every hunting season, hopefully we’ll get this year with a minimum of damage and conflict.