Friday, March 6, 2009

Are They Really Hunts?

I have to be brutally honest about these planted bird shoots that we've put on the past couple of years, JHO won't be participating anymore for several reasons.

1) The biggest reason is the safety issue. Every time I've been out on a planted bird shoot we've had issues with folks who are not aware of where their muzzle is pointing or had fingers on the trigger while walking. Even after warning the shooter we've had the same issue pop back up again the same day which puts in in a jam over kicking someone out of the shoot.

In these bird shoots we're also mixing small groups together that have never shot with each other and it's caused some strife. I know I've hit the ground a time or two over the past couple years when someone swung too far and almost blew someone's head off. I know 2 people who've been shot in the past 2 years while at pheasant shoots like this and I don't want any part in any shooting.

2) It's a canned hunt. I grew up chasing pheasants in the frozen cornstalks of Iowa and Missouri and these hunts, or shoots as they should be labeled, are just not my cup of tea. The dogs do get a work out but that's about it. You walk up and kick the pheasant out of sparse cover and bang! Wild pheasants are a completely different game, they use their cover to best many upland hunters. That, and many times a bird gets pounded by 3 or 4 shooters as it flies across field, leaving a bloody mess you can't even salvage for a bite to eat. Antis also use this type of canned hunt in their argument on hunting being called fair chase. I've always been for fair chase and these type of shoots do not make the cut for me.

3) The other issue we've had to deal with is dog owner's who have NO control what so ever over their dog or dogs. The last hunt we had a springer flushing out a pheasant from our field even before we walked out, the owner was no where in sight. Later, this same dog came back and we hollered for someone to reel in their dog and no one around responded. We never did figure out who was letting the springer run all over other fields. The hunt before that we had to ask one person to put their lab up in his truck after the dog ruined several fields by flushing birds out of them. Some folks who think they have control over their dog are completely oblivious to the whole program. This issue has also caused some heartburn between groups at these shoots as they watch a loose dog flush out birds they just paid to shoot.

The bottom line, just too many folks in tight quarters swinging shotguns around with many of them newbies or just way too careless for me. The California DFG youth hunts are more controlled in that they have several mentors around the kid and only hand them a shell when it's time to shoot. That's great but it's still a far cry from a fair chase hunt. One young hunter put it best to me after teaching him to shoot pidgeons at the local dairy in Chino. We were on his first planted pheasant hunt and after kicking the bird several times the pen raised bird finally flushed up and he shot it. The kid turned to me and said, "This ain't no fun, let's go shoot pidgeons." So we did, leaving our 2 other birds for another shooter in the next field to finish off.

I'm not trying to dis the DFG or the pheasant clubs it's just I have to be truthful on how I've always felt about these shoots. I tried to go along for the kids and group shoots for the comraderie but it's just not going to work for me.

1 comment:

Diana said...

Hi, Jesse --

I commented on your previous post about the Towhee and just happened to scroll down to this one. I'm not a hunter -- quite the opposite, in fact (yes, the dreaded vegetarian animal lover). But, I am so gratified to see a hunter boldly take on the issue of fair chase and canned hunts. I say boldly because I realize many feel this is a can of worms in terms of opening up hunting to a greater level of scrutiny. But I think any pursuit that involves killing deserves that scrutiny. And when it's scrutinized and criticized for its less palatable elements, it gives people like me much more faith in the practice at large -- where often, faith is hard to muster. It makes the more ethical hunters stand out, and shows the rest of us that there are those who really do care -- who won't look the other way when the sport veers off into iffy territory. I've witnessed so much crap, to be frank, in the outdoors in terms of treatment of animals. And I've never understood why more hunters didn't address these issues. These things (in my opinion) only make all hunters look bad. And when hunters defend the less defensible practices, it's hard to find a place where we can all agree. No matter what the PR risks, I commend you for taking an honest look at those parts of hunting that the rest of us find very difficult to accept, and in the process, you earn the respect of at least this reader and her co-workers and friends.

Thanks, Diana.