Is this sportsmanship?
During a 200-mile round trip yesterday in eastern North Carolina, Naomi and I saw six dead deer alongside the road. Presumably six vehicles were damaged. I hope nobody was injured.
It’s deer hunting season again, so this is only to be expected.
North Carolina is one of eleven states (mostly in the Southeast) where “hunting” with packs of deer hounds is still allowed. It’s an old European tradition probably first practiced in America about 1650, but it’s controversial to say the least because of complaints from land owners, primarily. By 1920, dog hunting had been banned in all the northeastern states. Texas even banned it in 1990, and today in those states where it is still allowed the practice is under pressure, with some counties banning it altogether and others imposing restrictions.
I’m a gun owner, but I strongly disagree with the practice for several reasons:
First, how sporting is it, really, to station hunters on all four dirt roads bordering a rectangular section of woods (often seated comfortably in upholstered swivel chairs bolted into pickup beds) and then run a dog pack through the woods to flush the deer out into the gun sights? In my opinion it’s not sporting at all, because the deer have little chance.
Second, I’ve seen how the deer hounds are often treated throughout the rest of the year, confined to small outdoor dirt-floored pens, simply shot in the woods if they don’t perform well enough, tick-ridden, even abandoned. They are disposable dogs.
Third, the dogs frighten the deer so much they will run for miles from their normal habitat, a predictable number of them every year darting across highways where they are struck and killed or maimed by vehicles, which suffer expensive damage—not to mention putting the passengers at risk—which costs us all in higher insurance premiums.
In the state of Massachusetts, where I was raised, you may only hunt deer on foot using a relatively short-range shotgun (which is much less dangerous to the citizenry than a long-range high-powered rifle). And you must employ the learned skills of the true hunter.