Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hunters: No Bambi, No Bubbas

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hunters: No Bambi, No Bubbas

Article excerpt

Not so long ago, we were a nation of hunters. Our wild lands and animals appeared endless. Our presidents were known as sportsmen and wrote books bragging about their exploits. Today, our wildlife is under great pressure and our politicians spend brief moments in the field holding shotgun or rod aloft to television cameras, cynically hunting for votes.

There are still real hunters in America, of course. The number of hunters has stabilized at about 7 percent of the population since 1937 (6.9 million then, 15.5 million now).

But these hunters are not seen clearly. The media increasingly resorts to cartoon stereotypes of hunters, and this hurts them. They are not mean-spirited rednecks or drunken Bubbas, and they are tired of offhanded references to Bambi. They live in a food chain that they understand clearly, and they husband their game.

In 1900, fewer than half a million white-tailed deer remained in this country. Today, the whitetail population exceeds 18 million.

In 1907, only about 40,000 elk could be counted. The elk population in 10 Western states now totals more than 800,000.

In the early 1900s, the wild turkey population was under 100,000 and falling fast. At last count, there were more than 4.5 million.

Less than 50 years ago, only 12,000 pronghorn antelope were left. Since then the population has increased to more than a million.

This is good news for everyone, and sportsmen should be given credit for a lot of it. They have certainly paid for it.

Each day, through license revenues, excise taxes and other income sources like duck stamps, sportsmen contribute $3 million to wildlife conservation efforts - more than $1 billion a year.

Through some 10,000 private groups they give an additional $300 million each year. …

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