Virtual Reality by Loretta Baughan
In March, 2,451,000 video game consoles were sold. I wonder how many shotguns were sold in March? These days, more people - especially kids - are interested in spending their time getting a virtual thrill from shooting aliens on their tv screen than picking up a real shotgun and learning how to hunt.
Back in the pre-pong days of my youth, we spent most of our time playing outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. Do kids today even know what hopscotch, red rover or alley-over are? Team sports actually involved other kids, a ball and often resulted in some rough-and-tumble scrapes and bruises. Now days, itís realistic drawings of professional sports players on the tv and wiggling a joystick while lounging on the sofa.
So, what about hunting? Is hunting with dogs - and field trials - destined to become the sport of old men? Visit a field trial or go hunting on state land and it may look that way. Just like the mom and pop grocery, the barbershop and blacksmith - all staples that once could be found in every community, large and small - the future of hunting and field trials looks bleak.
"Hereís a news flash to the liberal, city-slicker media types or narrow-minded, uninformed politicians out there: gun owners arenít "bitter" and donít "cling" to their guns as though they were Linusí security blanket."
That is, until the phenomenal Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, took the country by storm. An intelligent woman with mainstream American traditional values who is proud to be not only an avid hunter and gun owner, but one with a NRA life membership. Someone who refuses to be bullied and stood toe-to-toe with the radical animal rights mega-giant, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) - sending them packing back to the lower 48 with their tail tucked between their legs. You gotta love her for that!
In spite of the mediaís despicable efforts to paint a negatively biased stereotype of gun owners as either uneducated rednecks or criminals, Gov. Palin has single-handedly and unapologetically demonstrated that responsible, successful, intelligent Americans - men and women - can and do own guns... and know how to use them.
Hereís a news flash to the liberal, city-slicker media types or narrow-minded, uninformed politicians out there: gun owners arenít "bitter" and donít "cling" to their guns as though they were Linusí security blanket. Shame on them for trying to belittle hunters.
In rural areas, hunting is a way of life. In this part of the upper Midwest heartland, families hunt together. It's a part of our heritage that people take very seriously. These are good people... real salt of the earth. The backbone of America.
Hunters are the true wildlife conservationists. Unlike the fanatical, publicity addicted environmental and animal rights groups, who protest everything from bear hunting to the family SUV, hunters are "the primary source for funding for most state wildlife conservation efforts," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports. (1) More than fifteen million hunting licenses are sold each year, raising upwards of $620 million dollars. Additionally, the purchase of firearms and ammunition includes a federal excise tax, which is distributed to state wildlife restoration programs.
Hunters are generous with their time and dollars. They also support wildlife conservation through organizations such as: Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Ruffled Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited (DU), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and Safari Club International (SCI), to name a few.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, and other like-minded groups, spend millions of donated dollars on lobbyists in an effort to push their anti-landowner, anti-hunter agenda into law. Their ill-gained wealth also ends up in the pockets of lawyers who litigate against laws or activities in conflict with their un-Constitutional, foolish utopian goal of no individual property rights and no hunting. Radical environmentalism and animal rights extremists are two sides of the same coin. They share the same goals and use the same tactics.
These groups rely on deceitful, emotional pleas for donations from ill-informed, but well-meaning people to finance their efforts. Playing fast and loose with the truth is standard operating procedure for these small-minded, selfish, anti-pet, anti-pet owner, anti-pet breeder, anti-hunting, anti-landowner, anti-American groups:
"If you don't know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then... make it up on the spot." -- Paul Watson, co-Founder of Greenpeace, Founder of Sea Shepherd, co-Founder Friends of the Wolf, co-Founder Earthforce Environmental Society, and former Sierra Club board member wrote in Earthforce: An Earth Warrior's Guide to Strategy
According to the Humane Society Legislative Fund 2007 Presidential Questionnaire, "Even many hunting groups scorn the unsportsmanlike practice of "canned hunts", where trapped animals have no chance of escape from fenced pens and patrons are often guaranteed to take home a trophy..." Then asks the candidates: "Will you support legislation such as the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act to prohibit interstate and foreign commerce of captive exotic animals to be shot at "canned hunt" operations for entertainment or trophies?" (2)
"Just like their never-ending efforts to pass mandatory spay/neuter laws, breed bans and regulate dog breeding out of existance, it all amounts to a thinly disguised, backdoor attempt to outlaw hunting."
Itís true that some hunters do not support so-called "canned hunts". But HSUSí real motive behind their effort to enact such legislation is to use it as the proverbial foot-in-the-door to go after far more than hunting exotic game on ranches. They could very well use such a law to attack all game-farm hunting - including hunt clubs offering pheasant hunting:
"The pheasant hunt has, in many cases, devolved into a pathetic blend of factory farming and canned hunting: The birds are planted, the killing is all but guaranteed, and the "sport" is non-existent." -- Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) (3, 4)
"It is also a "canned hunting" operation - a place where fee-paying hunters blast away at released animals, whether birds or mammals, who often have no reasonable chance to escape. Most are "no kill, no pay" operations where patrons only shells out funds for the animals they kill. Bird-shooting operations offer pheasants, quail, partridges, and mallard ducks, often dizzying the birds and planting them in front of hunters or tossing them from towers toward waiting shotguns. There are, perhaps, more than 3,000 such operations in the United States..." -- Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) (5)
And couldnít it likewise apply to organized hunt tests and field trials - or even to training a dog with a live bird? You betcha.
Just like their never-ending efforts to pass mandatory spay/neuter laws, breed bans and regulate dog breeding out of existance, it all amounts to a thinly disguised, backdoor attempt to outlaw hunting. Although as hunters, we may not agree with all types of hunting, we need to stand united and fight against these efforts.
The entire premise of "animal rights" is that by taking ownership out of the equation - through changing societyís view of pets to one where the pet becomes a "companion" and the owner, a "guardian" - and granting animals legal rights, it will then be a small step to make it illegal to hunt or own any animal. After all, they would then have "rights".
"We feel that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child." -- Alex Pacheco, Director and co-Founder PETA, New York Times, January 14, 1989
To compare a disabled child to an animal is sheer hatred. These people are mentally ill scum buckets.
Governor Sarah Palin is a rare politician who recognizes the danger these fanatics pose. Her catapult into the national spotlight is a reminder that "we, the people" - including, and especially, Americans who hunt - are standing on the moral high ground.
But can we hold this ground against the unrelenting attacks? Only if we are vigilant. Only if we get involved. Only if we tell our families, friends and co-workers not to donate money to these groups that threaten our property rights and liberties. But most importantly, we need to do our part to raise up the next generation - boys and girls - to treasure our hunting heritage.
So, take a kid out of the virtual reality world of video games. Show them a real thrill. Teach them to shoot and take them hunting.
(1) - What do hunters do for conservation?, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(2) - 2007 Candidate Questionnaire, Humane Society Legislative Fund
(3) - Quotes from the Antiís: Who They Really Are - in Words from their Websites, The Maine Professional Guides Association
(4) - Time to Clip the Wings of Wasteful Pheasant Stocking Programs by Wayne Pacelle
(5) - Cheney's Canned Kill, and Other Hunting Excesses of the Bush Administration by Wayne Pacelle, 2004
© Copyright Loretta Baughan 2008, all rights reserved worldwide
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Loretta Baughan is the founder, editor and publisher of Spaniel Journal. She is an award winning professional photographer, webdesigner, owner of
Autumnskye, LLC. Loretta is a member of the Dog Federation of Wisconsin,
National Animal Interest Alliance, the National Rifle Association and is the Wisconsin contact for the Sportsmen and Animal Owners Voting Alliance. She resides
in northern Wisconsin, with her husband, Steve, and their three children.