I’ve posted several times about my love for hunting. I was raised with the hunting tradition, it was something that my family did together…and it provided food for our family. But that’s not ALL that hunting is about.
Through hunting, I have actually learned a lot about caring for wildlife, conserving their resources, and what can happen when the number of wildlife is left unchecked, and not enough resources are provided for them. In fact, last year we lived through one of the worst years ever for wildlife issues on our farm.
It started off innocently enough. One afternoon, there were a few deer in our hay yard. My husband has no issues with a few deer. He realizes that when the winter’s get tough, wildlife needs to find feed somewhere…and we were convenient. We did our best to encourage them to leave. I walked through the hay yard often, we drove through the yard, our dog roamed the yard, etc. Yet, before we knew it, the numbers skyrocketed. We went from a few deer, to a few hundred, to probably over 1,000 deer. We called our state Game and Fish officials, and received little help. We called neighbors and local wildlife enthusiasts, but little was done.
Our yard was a popular place for people to come looking. They drove through and watched the deer, some wanted to hunt for sheds (the antlers that bucks lose in the winter), others just wanted to see what it looked like. And then the deer started to die. It wasn’t one or two. More than 180 deer died in our hay yard. They pooped, they peed, they made a mess and destroyed our hay…and then they had the audacity to die. It was another mess to clean up.
We learned a lesson or two last winter/spring. Hunting is not just a “sport.” It’s not just a way to provide food for a family. It’s necessary to provide balance and keep wildlife healthy. Too many animals in one area is not a good thing, for the animal or for the landowner. We will do more this year to keep the problems at bay. If we’re expected to bear this burden, then we will do so on our terms.
Already we have had two deer taken on our land during the youth season. It was a great opportunity to introduce some young people to hunting, and it started early pressure on the deer in our area. In just three days, regular deer gun season starts…and I’m hoping that it’s a successful one (meaning that a majority of deer tags are filled).
And if you happen to be a North Dakota hunter, and you happen to have a deer tag, but you happen to not need, nor want, the venison (deer meat)…then let me remind you of the Feeding Families, Meating Needs program available. You can donate your meat to local food banks, which will provide that food to people in need.
When I think of the amount of meat that was destroyed and wasted last year, it makes me almost ill. Add that into the amount of hay we lost, the amount of time it took to clean up the mess and the resources that were used…no one can afford those types of springs.