Published by admin on 22 Jan 2010
Game Farming vs. Golf Courses
By Ted Nugent
Young Rocco showed admirable discipline. It was cold, damp and uncomfortable in the deep woods. He climbed the challenging hills and terrain carefully with pure youthful spunk. The hardest part was sitting statue-still for extended periods of time with dad. But his intense smile said it all. He was mesmerized by the wild all around him. The flitting songbirds captured his attention, the distant crow speak ignited his young, inquisitive imagination. The nearly invisible deer, ghostlike, feeding along the ridgeline ahead, caused him to hold his breath temporarily and stare fascinated by the dynamic of the beast and his exhilarated level of awareness. This boy was on fire! High on natie as it oughta be.
The day rocked on, father and son truly harmonizing with Ma Nature, and more importantly, each other. Like my dad before me, I was driven to teach my son the laws of nature—hands-on—as a natural, thinking, conscientious participant, hunting our families’ dinner by dedicating ourselves to her rules of tooth, fang and claw. To observe my boy embracing this powerful reality set my soul aflight.
This day afield was particularly moving for us, not just because we had some great discussions about important things, not just because an eight-year-old boy showed good self-control and self-discipline and intense interest, and not just because our midday sack lunch together tasted better in the wild than any five-star meal anywhere. Much more importantly, this day in the wild was extremely special for the simple fact that we could actually experience it legally.
You see, at eight, Rocco, is not by law allowed to deer hunt in Michigan, or almost any state for that matter. Even though he has dedicated himself to firearm and archery safety and marksmanship, certainly as good, if not better, than many of those of legal age, the goofy laws in most states force young children like Rocco to stay away from hunting, and for all practical purpose, the outdoors and her valuable lessons. With this programmed failure to recruit new, young hunters, the value of wild ground and inherent wildlife habitat is virtually doomed. Tragically, an entire generation has been discouraged to feel the mighty spirit of the wild by these nonsense laws. Believe me, the alternatives are ugly. Read the papers and watch the news mutilated by report after report of younger and younger violent offenders. Review recent history and see the invention of words such as “drive-by shooting, “ “school shootings,” the explosion of gang violence, graffiti, vandalism, preteen drug running and pregnancies, and kids randomly killing each other, and you will note it all began the same time as America’s exodus from the country to the city and the land. Hunter’s numbers began to decline THEN the crap hit the fan.
Thankfully, Rocco and I had a wide-open opportunity to hunt game together because of private property visionaries. With the rape of the hills, urban sprawl, the paving of America, and an epidemic of habitat-destroying golf courses, malls and other over-the-top development, wildlife ground will only be saved if that wildlife has renewable value. Many private property owners across the country, for many legitimate reasons, have enclosed their land with game-proof fences in order to offer specialized hunting opportunities above and beyond the regular seasons. And why not? Certainly this private control has proven to be an obvious, upgrade in quality deer management, and those increased opportunities provide a vast increase in quality family hours of recreation. That’s a win/win if there ever was one.
Is it real hunting? Certainly the very same variables that dictate a quality hunt anywhere apply on natural habitat within enclosures as well. With good escape cover, adequate food sources and sensible management restrictions, much like those rules that succeed on public grounds, an enclosed property hunt is as good as any wilderness hunt. Anyone who has had a lick of real-world hunting experience can tell you how anything can happen out there in the wild, fence or no fence. Only the inexperienced squawk their supposition. Facts are always a much better source of policy than guesswork. The critics of enclosure hunting invariably ignore these statistics and facts, mindlessly continue their vacuous diatribe. Meanwhile, the truth is there for the discovering if but a modicum of effort is pursued. So be it.
People who just plain hate hunting and hunters have found support within the hunting community by small-minded hunters, who, by all appearances, just like to hear themselves pontificate, for whatever reason. Legislation was posed a few years back under Bill HR1200 to ban all fenced-in hunting under 1000 acres. That bill was defeated for obvious reasons regarding private property rights, but in Washington State, and now Wisconsin, the anti-hunters have succeeded in fooling the public, as such enclosures are now illegal. This closed mindedness is coming to Michigan and other states right now, and represents a terrible mistake for many reasons. But the primary tragedy of such thinking is the brick wall it represents to family, particularly, children’s opportunities to hunt during those most important formative years of their youth.
In Texas and Mississippi, there is no minimum legal age for young hunters. Parents made those determinations for years without any injuries or accidents. And those 5, 6 and 7 year-old hunters bag deer regularly, under safe, well-supervised conditions that a bureaucrat or socialist cannot fathom. By all accounts, those families do not need to be protected from themselves, thank you. And if enclosure hunting is “unfair,” then, pray tell, just what do you call chicken McNuggets?
With shooting light fading into the evening shadows, Rocco belly-crawled the last few yards to the forest edge, and set up his little bolt-action .223 rifle for the shot. And because of all the dedicated range time he had invested to cultivate his inherent marksmanship discipline, he put that big, wild old hog down with a perfect heartshot. As we field dressed the beast and dragged him out of the forest, I glowed, witnessing my son’s joy and excitement from his first kill. It was a long, difficult, challenging day of lessons in the wild. Lessons that touched the deepest, most important cor of his being. Lessons of stealth, accountability, discipline, patience, awareness, self-control, self-sufficiency, nature, cause and effect and, ultimately, how to open up and feel his father’s love. To bring any obstacles whatsoever into his equation would be truly unfortunate. And it is very sad that no father and young son in Wisconsin or Washington State will ever be able to feel what we felt this day, all because selfish, ignorant fools create a policy with zero information. Really, really sad.