Hunting Report: We Should Know Better

Chris Maroldy

A little while back, I penned a piece in this space rambling on about how hunters and fish­ermen (“outdoorspeople”?) should try to get along with non-hunters and non-fishermen, especially on public lands devoted to hunting and fishing. I was reminded of it recently by two items in the news.

In the latest case, somebody killed two pet dogs with arrows at Falls Lake, apparently on state game lands.

Elsewhere, Northwood High School in Pitts­boro was put on lockdown a few weeks ago when a teacher reported a shot fired in nearby woods. The forested area around the school is private property and has long been hunted, particularly during deer season.

No one was in any danger, the hunter was acting lawfully—including observing rules buf­fering occupied buildings from hunting zones —and life went on “after things returned to normal.”

That did not stop at least one television station from trying to make the most of it, re­porting tweets from people who didn’t know anything and had no insights about the incident as if they were news or commentary. It was pitiful. The producers and reporters should have known better. Schools of journalism everywhere considered rescinding degrees, I’m sure.

The incident at Falls has likewise gotten a fair amount of ink and airtime. But this is more as it should be, even though there’s not much information to report here, either. The biggest news from my perspective is that there are a lot of people completely clueless that there’s hunting now on public hunting land. From the perspective of others, the big reveal might be that there’s hunting land around here, period.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone refer to state game lands as “wild­life sanctuaries,” I could buy more than a few boxes of premium ammunition.

It’s fairly easy to mock a twitchy teacher who hears a single shot during deer season and causes school administrators to go full duck-and-cover, so I will. On the other hand, you have to assume he or she just didn’t know any better. The same goes for people who don’t think that it’s a risk to let their dogs run wild. Well, it’s never a risk until something happens, is it?

We never seem to know any better until we do. No, the dogs shouldn’t have been shot and no, it’s not the owners’ fault that they were. But there’s a reason we have leash laws, particularly on public land, and this is a brutal way to find out or be reminded of them. Isn’t it?

Now as to the lowlife who shot the dogs, there’s no excuse for killing a collared pet much short of having it attach its teeth to your body. As a hunter, I know all the reasons to get angry about dogs running loose in the woods. I also know how uncaring and stubborn some people are about it on both ends of the equation. Fortunately, it’s only a very few people. But then again, it doesn’t take but one rotten apple to spoil the bunch. Or so they say.

My advice to hunters, especially the most rigid about uncontrolled dogs, is to imagine that animal running loose as someone’s pride and joy, because it is. You should know that.