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The necessity of trapping and hunting
By Brent Lindman

The still, cold morning air was shaken by the shrill screams of the jackrabbit. The coyote's ears stood at attention as he raised his head off his back leg. His sharp attention to the wind told him immediately that he was not going to be able to scent the rabbit that was dying a horrible death. He knew one thing, that last night's hunt was unproductive and he was extremely hungry. Slowly, he stood and began walking down the trail towards the screams. The feast of frozen choke cherries last night was not enough to stave off the starvation that was beginning to set in on this big coyote. The hunger in his belly caused him to forget the rules that had gotten him through the first three years of his life. He was hungry and thought that this may be an easy meal for him. The thoughts of fresh rabbit caused him to drool as he worked his way through the rose bushes towards the squealing rabbit.

I began to raise the jackrabbit call to my mouth for the second time, watching another spectacular morning dawn on northern Alberta, when I noticed ears. Letting the call fall from my hands I raised my .223 to a shooting position. A quick look through the scope told me all I needed to know. I had to kill this coyote. This was going to be easy. I would let this coyote walk right in on me before squeezing the trigger and sending the 55 grains of full metal jacket on its way.

People ask me all the time, "How can you do that?" They are talking about trapping and hunting. Many people see hunters and trappers as evil, cruel, black-hearted people that go out and without regard kill and murder those "poor defenseless animals". Nothing could be farther from the truth. I spend as much time outdoors as anyone. I snare and trap. I also hunt big game for meat. I can tell you first hand that hunters and trappers are not cruel compared to nature. Nature... now that is cruel.

I've given up on trying to justify myself to the mass of anti's out there. It doesn't matter what I tell them, they do not comprehend that some of us that hunt and trap do it for the love of nature. This may seem like a contradiction, but let me try to explain. When I'm out hunting or trapping I try not to interfere in nature, I try to become part of it. When man first discovered fire he became the ultimate predator. Some of us have kept that instinct in us. Although I could go to the grocery store and buy my meat like most people do, I prefer to hunt for it. By doing this I accomplish a couple of things. I help control the population of animals in the area and I feel I put a better product on the table for my family. Have you ever fried a pound of ground beef and got a liquid off it that's not grease? Well we have and what this liquid is, is beyond me. When we fry ground deer we have to add oil to the frying pan as it is so lean and no unknown liquids come out of it. No hormones or antibiotics in my deer. Just good old protein.

A hundred years ago before this land was settled, nature had a way of looking after its own. It had disease and starvation to control the population. Plus there was much more habitat for the animals. Now with the population explosion of humans, we have taken much of the habitat away from the animals. A perfect example of this is the increase in cougar sightings in city and town limits. We have taken away so much of their habitat that they have been forced into the suburbs. If you don't think a cougar will attack a human, think again! These big cats may be the most efficient hunters out there. Put in a situation where humans are encountered these cats can and will stalk and attack a human. The coyote population is running rampant in Alberta. Last winter, off of three quarters of land I snared about thirty coyotes. This spring I went out to see what the population was like. I never dented the population. If anything, it seemed stronger then ever. I contribute this to the fact that there was less competition for food which allowed the coyotes to winter better. I have trapped this piece of land for the last three years; last winter out of thirty odd coyotes I took only one that had mange. Compare this to an area I trapped for the first time last winter. For every three coyotes I took there, one had mange. As far as I'm concerned this is not a acceptable level. The coyote population there was unbelievable. Unless we control the populations of these animals they will die a horrible death from starvation, mange or freezing. I truly believe that a coyote dying in one of my snares or to a shot from my .223 is more humane than the alternative.

The population of the whitetail deer in this area will show that hunting doesn't effect the deer population the way some would lead us to believe. Again, as with the coyotes the deer herd is thriving here in Alberta. With the amount of cultivated land there is these days the herds have flourished. There is not a day that I do not see deer on my rounds of checking snares. The herds are growing by leaps and bounds. If we have a bad winter here in Alberta the deer will be in a lot of trouble. Starvation is not a pretty death. I have seen it first hand where deer were in such bad shape that they could not stand. They would just lay there as you walked up to them.

There is another reason for hunting and trapping that most people will never understand. That is the beauty of nature itself. To be out on a cold winter morning with the air biting your face, as you crunch through the snow, is a part of trapping that is beyond belief. Unless you have done it there is no way of understanding how it makes you feel. It brings the real things that are important back into prospective. It makes you realize there is more to life then material goods. When you're walking through the bush when it's -30C out you realize that all the money in the world can not buy you the feeling you have in your heart. You become part of nature. I'm not a religious person, but to see the beauty of nature makes you realize that there has to be a greater presence than humans.

As the coyote approached an opening only twenty yards from where I was sitting the crosshairs on my Ruger settled squarely low on the center of his chest. Slowly I began applying pressure to the trigger. At the report of the rifle I saw the coyote fall in his tracks. A swift humane kill. There was a twinge in my heart as I stood up from my position. That same twinge that I feel every time I take an animal. As I walk over to this once proud coyote I knew I had done it a favor. How could this be? I just ended an animals life. Well this coyote didn't have long to live. It had mange so badly that the only fur left on its whole body was a strip about two inches wide running from its elbow on its left front leg to a point just beyond its shoulder blades on top of its back. I felt terrible! Not because I killed this animal but because I didn't kill him sooner. For this coyote to starve or freeze to death is the real shame. These animals deserve to die a quick humane death. Not suffer from a disease. Now you tell me who the cruel people are. Are the cruel ones the ones that harvest these animals humanely or are the cruel ones the people that believe we should just let nature run its course? This is a question all the anti's in this world should ask themselves. I strongly believe that I did not only this one coyote a favor, but the whole coyote population a favor by putting this coyote out of his misery. If left alone this coyote would have helped spread the disease through the entire population. The people who think dying a quick death from a hunter or trapper is less humane than to die a death from disease or starvation are the cruel ones.

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