Hunting is an American tradition, and I for one am grateful. Hunting has long been available to the common American, and we should feel indebted to our creator for the abundance of renewable resources.

Like many other American traditions, hunting has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a family experience. I learned hunting skills from my father, grandfather and other family members. There are fond memories of hunting with family members. Many readers will know exactly what I'm talking about.Judging from a few Forum letters, there are many who haven't the slightest idea what hunting is all about. Some, particularly, are far removed from rural experiences or have lost touch with what I call a "real life." They seem quick to criticize yet lack understanding.

If these critics really love wild animals, they ought to give hunting, along with all its trimmings, an honest try. Those who hunt get to know and appreciate wild animals like few others ever will. I will gladly put the concern of the average hunter (for wildlife) against that of any tree hugger or anti-hunter. In the 20th century, hunters have been responsible for preserving more animal species and their habitat, than all non-hunter groups combined.

Deer hunters alone have contributed well over $30 million to wildlife conservation in the past 10 years, just in Utah. Hunters, along with livestock owners, have a significant stake in predator control; much more so than the armchair animal lovers who so willingly write letters yet are unwilling to get out and see for themselves what is really going on in the lives of people and animals they obviously do not understand.

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Armchair animal lovers, especially politically active ones, are responsible for the demise of more animal species than any group of sportsmen. In 1994, the number of deer killed by automobiles will equal or exceed hunter harvest. Mountain lions, bears and coyotes will kill more than a fair share, somewhere near 10 times the number going to hunters. I cannot understand the armchair love affair with predators, which kill more frequently and in much greater numbers than sportsmen. Yet, most significant, more so even than predation, is the loss of habitat. Big city dwellers and their lifestyles can take much of the credit for this loss.

When they can claim the same degree of financial and other support to wildlife that hunters and livestock owners can claim, then, and only then , might they be justified in pushing their far-fetched ideas.

John M. Carter


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