“The total population of registered hunters in America today ranges from 23 million to 43.7 million individuals” (Based on annual data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
I am pleased to announce that I just joined the ranks of the aforementioned group of hunters after purchasing my first hunting license this year. However, I am befuddled by the range quoted of “23 million to 43.7 million individuals.”
Am I the only one who is unnerved that the folks working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave themselves a 20.7 million person cushion? In other words, they have no idea how many people have hunting licenses.
Yet somehow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is able to state that there are only 1,000-1,200 Grizzly Bears remaining in the wild within the lower 48 states. When I read this statistic, I had mixed feelings. As a lifelong animal lover, I was sad because of how few wild Grizzly Bears are left.
Then I realized that the only time I would ever see a wild Grizzly would be in the wild, and it would kill me. This led to another feeling, which was strangely familiar to the feeling of excitement and relief I get when I hear the United States captured another major al-Qaeda leader.
Finally, I was very impressed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can count all the Grizzly Bears in 48 states. I cannot even make an educated guess on how many stray cats live under my front porch. It seems like I see a new one every day, but unless all the cats would come out from under our porches at the same time, my estimate would be way off.
Judging by the amount of cat poop in my flower bed, it is safe to say that there are somewhere between 5 and 375,000 stray cats living under my porch.
The reality is that nobody really cares how many people have hunting licenses. There are two numbers that are much more important to track diligently. First is the amount of deer running amuck in areas inhabited by humans.
This is important because deer are very dangerous and aggressive, especially during Autumn which is their mating season. (Just picture the steroid-infused, hormone-driven dullards from Jersey Shore running around in the back yard, but with antlers.)
It is also important to track the amount of people who own a gun. Unfortunately no one really knows this exact statistic, but I do not like to think about this, or else I would never go outside.
I do not own a gun. I have decided that the only fair way to hunt is by using a bow and arrow, like my Native American ancestors did. That was a bold-faced lie, and for that I apologize.
The truth is I do not own a gun because 1.they are expensive and 2.I do not trust myself to carry a weapon that can kill or maim me or the person I am with because of a simple mistake, such as tripping over a rock or thinking my brother was a brown bear that one time.
I also lied about having Native American ancestry, which is evidenced by my pale, sensitive skin (a condition commonly refered to as being “fair-skinned”, although there is nothing fair about it.)
Going hunting without a gun has posed a few problems. For starters, when I went out for my first hunting excursion in the pitch black at six o’clock in the morning, I realized very quickly that if a deer or a bear knew I was there and decided to attack me, I would have to ward them off with my bow and arrow, which I have not fired in two years (and two years ago I could not hit a large, refrigerator-sized target from ten feet away.)
Prior to sitting out in the middle of 10,000 acres of unpopulated wood in the pitch black, I had pictured myself much like Legolas from the Lord of the Rings, or Robin Hood; shooting an arrow every two seconds, hitting every target between the eyes.
When the reality of my inept archery skills set in, my heart rate reached triple-digits, and I was glad to be wearing camouflage for a different reason. This is also when I realized why hunters buy tree-stands; not only is it a better vantage-point, but I have never seen a deer climb a tree to kill anyone.
After sitting on the snow for two hours, I could not decide if my legs were numb because of the cold, wet snow, or because I was sitting on them for two hours.
Either way, I spent the full two hours alternating between thoughts of impending doom, paranoia that the chirping birds were telling the bears where I was, and developing several hunting-themed Good Ideas.
Prior to this hunting adventure, I had chosen my hunting buddy (my brother) for our family’s secret santa. He asked for a foam deer target for bow practice, but I could not find one that was less than $300. Instead I bought him unscented deodorant so the animals will not be able to smell him (at least that is what I told him.)
I did not want him to be disappointed that the only unemployed member of the family was his secret santa, so I decided to make one using $15 worth of materials from my workshop and Home Depot (insulating foam, deer colored duct tape, tent stakes, and a bike seat for the head.) Here is the completely functional, although cartoonish, result:
In my limited experience, I have found out that hunting is a lot like fishing. That is, I sit there for a few hours and then leave without anything very exciting happening.
Unlike fish, deer can apparently smell and hear very well, so it hurts my cause that I am loud and smelly. For this reason, sitting for hours by myself seems worthless knowing that deer are probably talking about me miles away.
Moving forward, I wanted to be able to read books to pass the time. This is why I invented a camouflage book cover so I can read classics like The Great Gatsby or The Berenstein Bears without giving away my position to any unlucky blind deer with a head cold that happens to come my way.
Some people may say this is too simple, and that lots of kids in rural and urban area schools already have camouflage book covers, but the key difference is that mine is for adult hunters.
My next Good Idea came when I started getting intense leg cramps from sitting still for so long (once again to avoid moving and making noise.) The following pictures are from the new exercise book that I created exclusively for hunters. It includes stretches that can be done with minimal movement (including Kegel exercises, once thought to only be for pregnant women.)
I have to be honest with myself and say that even if a deer walked up to me with a suicide note, I might not even be able to shoot it. This statement would typically lose me the respect of a lot of people, but most people who read this blog lost that a long time ago.
Instead of bringing home deer meat to feed my family (my wife, who does not enjoy venison, and my cat who I watched eat an entire cue-tip last night), I believe I am better at bringing other things to the table.
I was recently inspired in a different way while I watched a group of squirrels chasing each other in my backyard, while the stray cats in the back yard watched them too. Typically I would shoot at them with my bb gun, but on this particular occasion I had a Good Idea to write the following song about hunting squirrels in my back yard: Little Things-John G
In truth, hunting has already become another sport that I am deficient in for the same reasons I am only good at sports that involve tackling people. My hope is that someday, while I am out reading my camo-book in the woods, a deer runs by holding a rugby ball, then I could really show people what I am made of. That, or one of the Jersey Shore guys runs by with his shirt off, then I would not hesitate to take the shot.