Why I got a hunting license...And 3 things I learned from it

My compound bow and the State's Hunter Education Guide.

My compound bow and the State's Hunter Education Guide.

No one loves trophy hunters more than the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

So why am I shocked at their tactics when we don’t fall in line? Last year they skewed the public comment totals on the Bear “Management” Policy, hiding 92.4% of the respondents who oppose bear hunting.

And every year, DEP police arrest Dr. Bill Crain, psychology professor and author –for walking down a public road. Yes, the same road where the bear check-in station is, where trophy hunters go to bring the dead bears and slap each other on the backs, while hunt protesters are confined to a free-speech zone, and Bill is led away in handcuffs.

So what do we need to do to get into the Boys’ Club? 

During the last hunt, the DEP threatened to issue Hunter Harassment summonses to any of us in the woods who walked off the trail. Later I was shocked when another park ranger hiked down just to tell us he’d give ALL of us summonses if he got “one more call” from a hunter. Among the terrified hunter’s complaints? He said we were “looking at him.” 

The DEP’s bias toward toward their hunters was clear. And I decided I would get a hunting license.

Three months later, I passed the NJ Hunter Ed test for shotgun and bow.

And I learned 3 things that the DEP doesn’t want non-hunters to know – information we can use to strengthen the argument against bear hunting – especially bow hunting.

Bow hunting’s staggering 54% wounding rate

Studies show that half of the animals shot by bow hunters, are never found. For each animal killed, another runs off to die a slow death, days or even weeks later.

Bow hunters know the odds. Ted Nugent says, “Killing a deer with a bow and arrow is borderline impossible because the animals are so wary and the bow and arrow is such a short-range weapon.”

Even olympic archers don’t always hit a bullseye, an inanimate target with no foliage to deflect the arrow. Aside from trapping, bow hunting is the cruelest means of killing for fun. (source: idausa.org)

The “clean, quick kill” is a myth

Sportsmen may deny the cruelty of their past-time. But the harsh reality of what they do is explained by the DEP in black and white. On page 18 of the New Jersey Hunter Education Guide, hunters are instructed to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to 8 HOURS before tracking a wounded animal, based on where the animal is shot:

Is there such thing as a “good” shot? The DEP calls a shot to the vital area (heart, lungs, or liver) a “well-placed shot”. But this doesn't mean the death is quick or painless. An animal shot in the heart will die in under 10 seconds, but is this humane? And there is no clear answer for how long it takes to die based on other shot placements. An animal shot through one or both lungs will bleed out or suffocate. An animal shot in the liver could struggle for up to an hour. Seconds, minutes, or an hour may seem quick to the DEP, but it's a long time to a living creature who is bleeding and suffocating.

For the hunter who makes a “poorly-placed shot” to a non-vital area (ex: stomach) and who waits 6 to 8 hours before tracking: I predict a lot of hunters will run out of daylight. And while he’s at the bar that night with his buddies, somewhere an animal is in agony. Remember that Cecil the lion suffered for 40 hours with an arrow in him, before being killed by a bullet. 

FYI...they wait this long so they don’t drive an animal out of range. But the point here is that this “oath” of a quick, clean kill is a sham. Even the animal shot in the heart will feel pain and fear. There’s nothing clean about animal suffering.

A stick in the eye. Ultimate act of cruelty.

In the state’s field training, the instructor told us how to check if the animal is dead; we are to find a stick, and stick the animal in the eye. If there’s a reflex, the animal is then shot. This is to avoid getting a hoof or a paw to the face, though every trophy hunter I know deserves it.

The quick, clean kill isn't worth the paper it's written on, literally. Contemporary sports hunting is an ugly, messy, and inhumane business that mentally healthy people want no part of. Click here to download a pdf of Page 18 to read this information for yourself.

They’re afraid of what you think, and what you’ll say

When I took the Hunter Ed class, they stressed: Hunting is a privilege, not a right.

They’re very concerned about their image and what the non-hunting public thinks of them. They say things like:
     “Don’t display games animals or firearms in a careless manner.”
     “Never drape your game on top of your vehicle. This is offensive to the general public.”

There’s even a part in the Hunter Ed DVD that shows a hunter hiding a dead bird inside his jacket, so a passerby can’t see it. But trust me, they don’t care if they offend us. They already know that killing for fun is offensive. All they’re afraid of is a public backlash. Remember that the DFW makes their money by selling the hunts. Hunting is a dying industry and bears are big business for them.

How you can help

Since 2000, three New Jersey governors have stopped 8 bear hunts because of public outcry. The DFW is afraid this will happen again. It will! But only if you keep speaking out. Please click here to join or donate to the BEAR Group, the only group in the state that focuses solely on getting these hunts permanently banned.