Why hunting matters

Dateline: Sun 06 Apr 2014

Ryan Sabalow, investigative reporter at the Indy Star, photographer Robert Scheer and editor Steve Berta did sound public service by writing about the deer industry in Indiana and the Midwest.

Sabalow's bio says he is a hunter, which explains his expertise and ability to tell this story; the Star could not send your typical urban reporter out on this story. While it was hard reading for many of us who love and respect animals and nature, the reporting is absolutely necessary.

The Frankenstein deer, the pathetic huge horns, the disease, pens, breeding and money generated make this a compelling subject. 

The biggest problem I see is that Gannett cut its ties to rural areas ages ago; the people who should be reading this story live in the boondocks, and how much credence they give the Star online is unknown. Several friends who are city folk thought the series overly long; "it could have been told in one day," said one woman. But she does not realize what a huge deal hunting is in the bookdocks.

When we lived in Putnam County on acreage, we had hunters approach us incessantly to shoot whatever game was in season. My husband, not a hunter, always said yes, because he recognized that many rural hunters are feeding their families on venison, rabbit and even squirrel. (He drew the line at shooting coyotes for their fur).

But the men who hunted our property were sporting fellows. They placed salt licks, studied deer paths and sometimes sat for hours starting at dawn in a tree stand. It was not, for these guys, a trophy sport; they were not playing Jungle Jim with the deer. They simply wanted food in the freezer.

What a cruel turn that some Hoosiers and others beyond think deer deserve so little; they disrespect the animal, and they disrespect themselves.

But rural life is curel, and it's hard. I was shocked to hear one quasi-farmer explain to me one day that,  in his veiw, "The only livestock is dead stock."

Indiana should be ashamed to allow these ventures to continue. Bring back a hunting ethos.

Teddy Roosevelt's quote on penned hunting was therefore perfectly positioned in the series.



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