As another hunting season nears and I await eagerly the chance to take my Lab out for her first waterfowl hunts, and to take my son out for his first deer hunt, there are some worrying signs around …
As another hunting season nears and I await eagerly the chance to take my Lab out for her first waterfowl hunts, and to take my son out for his first deer hunt, there are some worrying signs around the state.
For one, Wyoming Game and Fish is warning of a potential weakening of the migratory duck and goose flights over the state this year due to tough conditions in their summer grounds in Canada.
In many areas of the state, winter kill amongst big game animals, especially antelope and deer, has led to reductions in quotas, while in other areas deer populations are becoming ever more likely to have Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
If you’re a hunter, I share your pain. I’ll be taking my son on his first deer hunt near our old family cabin, in the heart of one of the highest CWD areas in the state. I would hate for him to harvest his first ever big game animal and then learn the deer has CWD. While I’ve eaten deer harvested in the same area that has never been tested for CWD, this year it’ll have to be tested, and I don’t know that my family and I would be comfortable eating a deer found positive for the virus.
And if duck and goose numbers are down by a sizable amount, my just over 1-year-old Lab is going to wonder whether going on a hunt is really all that fun if she isn’t able to blast out of the blind and into the water after a downed bird.
However, if state management needs to get more drastic for a couple years, say smaller bag limits for birds, no general tags for hard hit deer areas or another measure that could cause populations to rebound, I’m all for it.
As much as I’d hate to have fewer hunting opportunities, I believe in the power of true conservation efforts, which is part of the reason I’m a hunter to start with. Even my brother, who has talked about waterfowl hunting almost nonstop since the moment last season ended, has mused about being totally fine with smaller bag limits if it helps bird populations.
I look forward to hunting season every year, and I want to be able to continue to look forward to hunting season every year I’m able, and have my sons (and maybe someday grandkids) do the same.