Newsletter/ Opinions Editor
A cold ground dusted with snow and leaves rustling underfoot as a long walk in the forest culminates in a quiet spot to sit and watch the sunrise. A buck in the distant field lifts his head from feeding, a gun is positioned and a shot rings out. The season has been a success.
Rifle season is upon us and with it comes the promise of fresh venison to put on the table. Thousands of Michiganders will hit the woods in hopes of bagging the biggest buck they can. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports in the “Michigan Deer Hunting Prospects Report of 2013” that 700,000 whitetail deer permits were issued, which resulted in 418,000 harvested deer.
According to the same report, this year’s hunt is shaping up to be just as fruitful with wildlife experts showing a trend of increased population in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. This is thought to have occurred due to mild winters.
The popularity of hunting in Michigan sometimes sparks a debate of the humanity and ethics behind hunting. As humans with a readily available food source at our fingertips, the necessity of hunting is almost obsolete. Few people hunt for sustenance and depend on a successful hunt to get them through the winter. Objectors of hunting will say that killing an innocent animal and eating meat is bad for the environment and that it is inhumane. However, there are several good reasons why you should hunt, or at least try hunting.
According to the American Hunter. org, hunting is a good way to get in some exercise, stay healthy and help the planet. Venison is organic and free from GMOs and other additives that would be in in grocery store beef or chicken. One deer can provide anywhere from 40-60 lbs of meat . If a hunter is able to bag two deer, that meat can represent a significant portion of the estimated 270 lbs of meat consumed annually by any one American.
Hunting also keeps the deer, as a species, healthy. Few natural predators of deer exist and without regular population control diseases, such as EHD, can run rampant killing off major portions of the population as a whole. The 2013 Michigan Deer Hunting Prospects Report said that there are somewhere between 100-400 confirmed cases of EHD, which mostly took place in the Southern Lower Peninsula. EHD is a disease spread by deer that is not contagious to other animals or people, but eventually leads to the deer’s death. The DNR cites that it is not harmful to consume the meat of an animal with EHD.
Hunting licenses and the industry account for $2.4 billion in federal taxes and employ 575,000 people in an industry valued at $42 billion, making hunting big business. Hunters are also the highest donors to conservation efforts and wildlife reserves, donating, on average $7.5 million a day.
Killing deer is literally saving the planet.
This year, as gun season opens up, thousands will take a day off of work (or if you live in the North, your school or workplace might give you the day off) and hit the woods in the anticipation of venison steaks and big racks. If you’ve never been hunting, there are ample resources for beginners, such as Hunter’s Safety. Hunting is a truly enjoyable experience that keeps the planet and the deer species healthy.