When you hear the term “hunting,” what comes to mind? Do you think of just anyone, or is there a specific image of a certain kind of person that pops into your head? Maybe someone who talks, acts, and dresses a certain way, lives a certain lifestyle, and ultimately has a certain attitude toward wildlife. There are definitely stereotypes that exist surrounding this subject. But the truth is hunting might have a lot more layers than you think.
As humans in today’s current landscape, we rely on so much infrastructure to keep us healthy, happy, safe, and fed. If you need material to finish the treehouse in your sugar maple or want to have the oil changed in your 2007 Civic. You can essentially snap your fingers and make it so without even leaving your house. So much is happening in such a constant and fast-moving world that we often do not stop to really take in how much we rely on our system.
One of the largest, most demanding industries we have that literally keeps us going is the food industry. Living in a time where a legitimate cause for worry is how long our online takeout order will take. It becomes really easy to forget that at one point. In order to eat, we had to find our own food, and finding our own food meant hunting. So firstly, remember that all humans eat food, and whether it be hunting for wild mushrooms or for deer. That nourishment is a human need, and the act of hunting is quite often a lot more humane and thoughtful than getting your meat from a grocery store. Not to mention there are huge conservation benefits as well.
What it Takes to Become a Hunter
All hunters in Canada are required to take hunting education courses in order to be awarded a license and, ultimately, allowed the privilege of hunting. These courses consist of subjects such as wildlife identification, rules and regulations, and safety and equipment. The courses also cover deeper issues and topics like wildlife management and hunter responsibilities. Meaning everyone who aims to become a hunter in Canada is educated in respectful practices for both nature and the wildlife that we share that nature with. By the time someone is able to go out on their first hunt, they possess the knowledge required to be respectful and courteous while pursuing their animal of choice.
When we peruse the meat section of our local grocery store, we see signs for “beef,” “poultry,” “pork,” or “steak,” “roast,” and “sausage.” These words may serve their purpose in communicating to us exactly what it is we seek for our meals. But where they fall short is the connection to where that meat is coming from. By choosing not to call the animals we are eating by their names, we take ourselves further away from what really happens behind closed doors. In removing the connection between the animals and us, we easily consume meat in excess, disregarding the conditions that factory-farmed animals live in and die in. In a system like this, we indirectly support the mistreatment of animals. It makes a senseless act like buying eight chickens worth of wings for a quick trip to a friend’s backyard barbecue a common practice.
When someone goes through the effort of educating themselves about wildlife, preparing themselves to learn the ways of the specific animal they are hunting. And putting in the actual work of tracking it, killing it humanly, lugging it out, cleaning it, storing it, and sharing it, they are not removed from the animal. They have an understanding of where the animal came from, the work it took to get it, and the true value of the animal. The mindfulness that is created from this practice is one that is often overlooked and seen simply as sport or leisure. The camaraderie and physical outdoor adventure that come along with hunting are added benefits. But it is a practice of respect and mindfulness that creates an understanding of meat that is often lacking in our everyday grocery stores.
White-Tailed Deer Hunting in Canada
One of the most popular animals to hunt in Canada is the white-tailed deer. Deer hunters love this animal for its beauty and sustenance, and above all else, they respect the animal. You might find the thought of someone killing such a beautiful animal to be barbaric or cruel. But in actuality, hunters work tirelessly to kill the deer in the quickest and most humane way possible, avoiding areas that will cause slow and painful deaths. There is also a lot of care and effort made after the kill has taken place. Here is a quote from avid deer hunter Alex Comstock of whitetaildna.com:
“The profound appreciation for deer leads us to not wanting to waste an ounce of venison. To me, that’s why I want a mount when I shoot a mature buck. I don’t get the mount to brag or to show off my kills, it’s to showcase a highly intelligent animal in a positive regard… the memories will live on through the mount for as long as I live”.
Deer hunting in Canada is more than mindfulness and respect for the animals. It is also integral in managing the massive deer population. The deer population in Canada is constantly growing, and in Ontario alone, there is an estimated 400,000 deer. In these numbers, deer can be extremely damaging to the environment around them. One huge risk of the overpopulation of deer is that they account for a large number of automobile accidents (about 600 collisions are reported every 12 months in Ontario). Too many deer also means that forest health and structure can be damaged and even ruined due to the massive need for food.
It has been observed that rare plants such as trilliums and orchids have decreased in certain natural areas while they are overtaken by deer. When deer run out of food in natural areas, they are often drawn to more developed areas, adding once again to the rise in collisions with cars as well as the spread of Lyme disease. Hunting is one of the most humane and respectful ways for the deer population to be controlled and kept from damaging natural and city areas. Hunters help to maintain the deer population while respecting the animals and nature around them, feeding their friends and family, and reducing the need to go to the grocery store to find meat for every meal.
CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) and How Hunters can Help
CWD ( Chronic Wasting Disease) is an infectious fatal disease that affects the central nervous system in wild cervids (deer, elk, moose, and woodland caribou). There is no known cure, and it could potentially wipe out hoards of our cervid population. It has been detected in 30 US States and 4 Canadian provinces. Symptoms have been reported as severe loss of body weight, listlessness, head bowing, drooling, continuous walking in regular patterns, and standing with their legs bowed so as not to fall down. CWD is highly contagious and is spread by saliva, feces, and blood or by exposure to a contaminated area. Deer can live up to two years with CWD, not showing symptoms for up to a year. This makes the disease so contagious and hard to control.
Baiting stations and salt have been popular ways to attract animals to hunt in the past, and this practice greatly contributes to the spread of CWD.
“Most state wildlife agencies would rather [deer] baiting not be legal, even in states where it is already legal,” said Tennessee Region III Big Game Biologist Ben Layton. “Baiting is simply a mechanism for disease spread.” Read more on this subject here.
There are many measures in place to protect our deer population, such as the Chronic wasting disease prevention and response plan. Hunters are our number one resource to ensure these practices.
Although CWD has not been detected in Ontario as of yet, it is crucial that hunters know the proper techniques to ensure not spread of this devastating disease to our beautiful deer population. Learn how to protect them from CWD here.
What’s Next ???
We hope that this provides some insight into both the importance of hunting in Canada for conservation on a local and national level and what it takes to be a modern hunter. Our hope is that we’ve begun to dispel any negative connotations you may have had before reading this. But we encourage you to do your own research on this topic as there are so many resources out there to learn more about it.
GuidED Adventure mobile App aims to offer a very diverse set of guided experiences. Whether you are a lover of hiking, foraging, fishing, hunting, climbing, or photography, we all share the same passion for the outdoors. Education will bring us all together to preserve and protect this beautiful place we call home.
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