I often hear others say that the idea of hunting is brutal. I find myself frequently defending my actions and explaining that I am actually one of the most sensitive hunters you could find. When I approached the first deer I ever tagged laying peacefully in the woods, I cried. I’m not tough, and frankly I don't attempt to be.
On my way to an appointment for work last week with several colleagues in my car I once again found myself attempting to explain why I head to the woods each fall and how I am able to “pull the trigger” on such a sweet animal. Moments after I had this conversation and only a few miles down the road was a small deer that had just been struck by a vehicle. The traveler had left the poor animal struggling in the road. It was quite possibly one of the saddest things I have seen. In every way possible, this justified the importance of controlling the whitetail population. Fortunately, within a few seconds a state highway patrol officer approached the animal to address the situation.
Most of us have seen urban deer. You know the kind, the deer that will walk up to your front porch and eat out of your hand. They are fearless. Urban deer have very few inhibitions they re-populate quickly, wreak havoc on landscaping and in some truly unfortunate circumstances, cause horrific accidents that are harmful to both the deer and the people in the vehicle. This certainly describes the animal I saw last week. With only a handful of cities allowing urban hunting and strict restrictions on the hunters that are able to participate, the population is difficult to control. In my area, you can watch hundreds of whitetails walk down the street anytime of year within city limits. Last fall, one particularly rambunctious buck ran through a window of a local college student union. Clearly, a problem that could have caused serious injury to those that got in the path of this terrified animal.
I truly believe that one of the most critical issues facing the average hunter and really the whitetail population in general is the urban hunting situation and managing a herd that is probably one of the most difficult to control. I plan to apply to hunt in a local urban hunting program this year and would strongly encourage others to consider this option as well. Oftentimes, gaining access to land is a challenge that can really add complexity to a hunting season. Being a part of an urban hunt alleviates some of this concern and opens a new realm of possibility, providing hunters the ability to set foot on ground that in some circumstances has went untouched for years. Yes, I recognize that there is a thin line between too many and too few urban hunters and I do advocate for restrictions in order to ensure safety, however, I believe that without strong urban hunting programs in the years to come, the whitetail population may face some interesting changes; Changes that could seriously jeopardize food resources and general health of deer.
If your city doesn't permit urban hunting, ask questions, become an advocate and look into what options might be available. Educate yourself about the local whitetail population and research how you can ensure long-term sustainability. For further details about how to apply to participate in an urban hunting program, check out your city's local website or visit the city hall. To those hunters that do have this option, be safe, be smart and be cognizant of your surroundings.