Column: A few adjustments could level hunting’s playing field

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 11, 2002

Every now and again, I feel compelled to write a more serious column instead of lacing my words with my sarcastic brand of humor. This, however, is not one of those times.

Hunting season is upon us, and soon all kinds of hunters will be out hunting deer. I have never hunted, and have no intention of starting. It simply does not interest me. However, I don’t have anything against people who do like to hunt. How they spend their time is their business.

What I don’t understand, though, is how some hunters can consider what they do a sport. Let’s be truthful. Hunting is an activity. It is not, by any definition, a sport. Hunting is a situation in which a bunch of armed hunters wait for an unarmed animal to wander into their range of vision so they can shoot it. Anyone who knows how to fire a weapon can shoot at an unsuspecting target. That sounds a little one-sided.

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Now before I upset any NRA members, let me clarify one thing before you call Charlton Heston. I am not calling for a ban on either guns or hunting. I’m just calling for a ban on referring to it in its present form as a sport.

However, I am not one to complain without offering a solution. I have a few suggestions that would create a more level playing field and make hunting somewhat more sportsmanlike.

My first suggestion is to go hunting without a gun. After all, the only weapons the animals have are what nature gave them. Imagine the challenge in tracking, running after and catching a 10-point buck or a mountain lion. If you can run fast enough, you wouldn’t even have to lose the element of surprise.

My next suggestion is to omit the use of products to attract animals. They make liquid scents-in-a-bottle that attract whatever type of animal you are hunting. They also make products to imitate animal sounds, and for some animals, decoys. If you want a challenge, stop being lazy and track the animal yourself. How would you like to walk into what appeared to be a popular restaurant with all kinds of customers, only to instead discover a predator lying in wait for you?

I also would suggest refraining from the use of products that mask human scents, something most animals recognize as trouble. Unless you are willing to hunt blindfolded. Hindering an animal’s use of its sense of smell would be approximately equal to taking away a hunter’s sense of sight.

And how about modifying the use of camouflage? Hunters wear camouflage clothing so the animals cannot see them. Then they wear bright orange so the other hunters can see them. My suggestion is to use one or the other &045; but not both.

And as long as we’re making hunting into a real sport, let’s take a cue from a few other sports. Setting up concession stands would be a start. However, to make them profitable, those hunting in the area would not be allowed to bring their own lunch or beverages inside. They could instead purchase a $5 hot dog or a $4 soft drink.

Mount speakers throughout the forest, and every now and then blast a few sports songs, such as “Who Let the Dogs Out,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” or “We Will Rock You.” Granted, this might scare the animals away from the immediate area, but it would at least get everyone psyched up about the project.

Set up stadium seating, and turn hunting into a spectator sport. That way you could have your $5 hot dog and $4 soda brought right to you, without having to get up. And sell souvenirs, too &045; like those airhorns used at football games. That way, spectators could show support for their favorite hunter.

Hunting may not be a sport, but using some of these ideas might help it to become one. And just for the record, yes, I am a meat eater. And no, I don’t track down my own cattle every time I want a hamburger. But then again, I don’t consider eating meat to be sport. Unless, of course, it’s an eating contest. But that’s another story altogether.

Dustin Petersen is an Albert Lea resident. His column appears Mondays.