Cumberland Times-News

January 5, 2013

Reader concerned about hunting, shooting heritage

Cumberland Times-News

— Hi Mike:                                                                                                    

Your Dec. 30 column closed with the statement — which in my view included the most significant thought you expressed in 2012 — “Let’s give thanks not just for success, but for the opportunities to have success.”  

Your message may be read as looking to the past, but in a subtle way you are calling attention to the future. I’m struck with the need for the hunting community to seriously focus on the future.

Hunting success cannot happen without opportunity. Future opportunities to freely enjoy hunting without overbearing restrictions are in danger.

For those who can look back on many hunting seasons, personal health and hunting location with relatively easy physical access are necessary for opportunity. For those with much of their hunting careers in the future, and their kids and grandkids, the opportunities are far from certain. There are many ominous signs.

In a recent issue of Turkey Call magazine it was stated that 6,000 acres of upland game habitat are disappearing each day. Urban sprawl and development are special concerns in the East where large population areas are eating up rural land. Investment interests are taking large blocks of land for various reasons.

Government budgetary concerns will reduce or eliminate programs which support habitat protection, hunter access and other programs which support hunting and shooting recreation.

In states across the country, laws which restrict or make it more difficult to hunt are being proposed and sometimes enacted.

Some laws are subtle, but when examined, the intent to make it more difficult to hunt becomes apparent.

In the column cited above, you report the appointment of a member of a well funded anti-hunting organization to the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Group. Right now we are witnessing the beginning of what will be the strongest anti-gun effort in most of our lifetimes.

Those who want to heavily restrict or eliminate private gun ownership are joined by those who want to eliminate hunting.

When laws and regulations prohibiting or making it more difficult to own firearms and hunt are put into place there is no going back. Here I’ve mentioned but a few examples of real threats to our hunting heritage.

I believe every hunter should belong to at least one organization which supports hunting and habitat protection, provides information on hunting and gun issues and represents the hunting tradition.

There are a number of good organizations whose cost of membership will not break a hunter’s bank.

Really, this is an investment we cannot afford to avoid.

Reading your remarks calls to attention how blessed I am for the opportunity to hunt.

To freely take my gun at any time within legal seasons and drive to a hunting location of my choice without fear of interference by overbearing restrictions is a freedom not available in many countries.

We must work to ensure this freedom is not eroded here in the U.S.

Jerry Burke

Petersburg, W.Va.