Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hunting, Yesterday and Today

Now that another Fall hunting season is upon us I began to think of the changes in styles and types of hunting that have occurred over the years.
Gone are the days of overalls, jeans, brown duck hunting coats and Jones style caps. Hunters now have temperature rated multi-patterned camouflage hunting attire. Boots are insulated and different styles are available for different types of hunting.
A wide selection of firearms is now available for each type of hunting.
The greatest difference in hunting now is the approach.
Gone are the days of hunting clubs or family hunts with a pack of hounds and rows of “Standers” with shotguns. This was a hunting community with a mix of ages, from small youngsters to grandfathers and great-grandfathers. The mix of ages and relations was a great time of fellowship. Youngsters were taught manners, respect for their elders, sportsmanship, gun safety, hunting techniques, animal care, and many different skills that would serve them well the rest of their lives. This instruction wasn’t just by parents but the entire group by example and oral instruction.
Youngsters often learned to drive a pick up truck by putting the standers in place.
During meal times youngsters were made a part of the conversation and sharing of ideas. Their comments and questions were treated with respect. The wisdom of the ages was passed down during these gatherings. Knowledge, memories and friendships were made that would last a lifetime.
If a deer drive wasn’t being held the youngsters hunted small game such as squirrels and rabbits. This taught them marksmanship and woodsman skills.
How to know the difference between being lost and not knowing exactly where you are was a valuable lesson learned by many.
In those days hunting clubs cleaned and dressed their own game that was harvested. The entire group, including the youngsters, received a portion.
Sadly these days seem to be gone forever. There are now political issues involved. Anti- hunting zealots have pushed for laws forbidding dog drive hunts. If you hunt with dogs now you have to teach the dogs not to bark if they trail the game across posted property.
The cost of hunting land leases has caused many people to be unable to hunt in any manner.
Stalk hunting is the most talked of method of hunting done now.
Stalk hunting is really a misnomer, since very little stalking in the true sense of the word, is done. Ambushing would be closer to what occurs. The gun of choice is now a high powered rifle with a telescopic sight.
In the early stages of what is called stalk hunting tree stands were placed over planted food plots or known game trails.
Tree stands in many cases have given way to shooting houses with all sorts of creature comforts, cots, heaters and radios.
Access to these ambush points is gained by using small all terrain vehicles that cost more than luxury automobiles once cost. These ATV’s come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, paint schemes and camouflage designs. They are available with electric or gasoline engines.
There is little or no interaction with other hunters in this type of hunt.
Most hunters go to a central sign in point to enter their name or code for a given area. Hopefully no other hunters are in this area or wander into it later. People have lost their lives by being in the wrong area.
Game harvested is now carried to a game processor where it is packaged and labeled. There is no learning to clean, dress and process the meat by the hunter.
When I consider these points I realize that another good thing of the past has been lost in the name of progress. The young of our country have lost another valuable learning experience and we have lost a part of our lives that can never be replaced.

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