Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mandating Hunter Safety for Politicians and Press?

In hunting and in life, what you see often depends on where you sit.

And so, it was with some amusement that I snapped open the Tyler, Texas newspaper this morning I booted on the ol' computer and read in The Tyler Morning Telegraph :

"If you ever gripe about hunting in Texas, stop it. You could live in Massachusetts.

The hunting season in Texas is off and running with dove season in its second week and teal season opening Saturday. The peak won't come until November when waterfowl, deer and quail are all open at the same time, but it will continue until mid-May when the final turkey season closes.

If you still have an itchy trigger finger and can stand the heat, there is no reason you can't hunt non-game species such as wild pigs and coyotes from then until September 1, when the cycle starts again.

Still feeling shorted, OK, consider the plight of hunters in Massachusetts. Sure they have a quail season. It lasts five weeks. There is also a deer season. Again five weeks for bow hunters, three for the shotgun season. There is no season for centerfire rifle hunting. They do have a bear season, something we don't have in Texas. They also have a crow season, bobcat season, opossum and raccoon seasons."

Texas boasts that it has more hunters than any other state (1.1 million), and that in just 5 days, Texas residents recently purchased a little more than 385,000 hunting and fishing licenses, pumping about $12 million into Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's coffers.

Meanwhile, over in Massachusetts, they do not exactly feel wildlife deprived. Paul E. Kandarian writes in The Boston Globe:

Bobcats, fishers, and mink - who knew such creatures inhabit Southeastern Massachusetts woods?

The genesis of this article is that Massachusetts is now requiring residents seeking their first hunting license to take a 15-hour state-mandated hunter safety and education course.

I think such courses are a great idea (though 15-hours seems a bit long), but why limit such a course requirement to hunters? How about making them a requirement for journalists and politicians as well?

Imagine how gun debates might change if more journalists and politicians actually knew how safe hunting was, and how few accidental gun discharges there really are (accidental swimming pool drownings are more common).

Would journalists be outraged that someone would joke about ping pong in a movie called "Balls of Fury," if they knew that the National Safety Council says ping pong is more likely to result in injury than hunting?

And would there be a national movement to ban Bambi as "anti-American propaganda" if journalists knew that deer had killed more Americans this century than Al-Queda and all other terrorist groups combined?

If folks knew that the red fox was an import, would immigration restrictionists argue that these non-natives are taking away jobs from American (gray) foxes?

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