Ever stop to think how hunters impact us hikers?
“All trail users must be aware… and dress accordingly.”
This was the word of caution on a sign along a popular trail on public forest land in the state of Arkansas. Now this is not about being prepared for rapid weather changes, which do occur in national forests, it’s about hunting!
Why do hunters continue to have the right of way?
This morning on our walk we spotted two white tailed deer across the wooded ravine. They didn’t turn their beautiful big ears towards us. They didn’t hesitate before calling the alert and bounding off out of sight. They were obviously very frightened.
Not long before, again on a morning walk, two deer raised their heads to watch us as we stopped to quietly watch them. They were adequately cautious and didn’t move off until we started walking again.
What made the difference?
In the Namibian desert the zebra start to run as soon as they hear the Landy from kilometers away. While in the Kruger NP we wait till their ready to move off the road.
Hunters spoil appropriate wildlife encounters for the rest of us.
Why, on public land, which is for the enjoyment of us all do hunters get preferential treatment?
Why in Arkansas do people like me have to take precautions so I don’t accidentally get shot?
Why are hunters a priority over the rest of us who love to enjoy the outdoors? For those of us who simply want to experience, watch and maybe even photograph nature?
Why does killing an animal become more important than taking its photograph?
Well sadly the answer must be money.
Someone, or some organization, stands to benefit from giving hunters the right of way over the rest of us.
Aren’t we the public too? Aren’t we equally entitled to enjoy nature with all its beauty?
Obviously not. Otherwise we wouldn’t hear about tragic killings like those of Cecil the lion who was loved and viewed by so many in the wilds of Zimbabwe. Cecil was taken down by a trophy hunter… so one selfish man could bolster his ego and hang this noble lion’s head on his brag wall. Isn’t there something very wrong with this picture?