Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I was made aware today by a friend who is a birder that there is a referendum to create a hunting season on Sandhill Cranes. This idea is being publicised by a Columnist who writes for the Knoxville Sentinel named Bob Hodge. I do not know Bob Hodge's credentials and I haven't seen the actual article yet. I will delve into this shortly. I have seen a couple emails with quotes from his articles stating his justification for a hunting season. He states "the freakin things are everywhere." If this is indeed a statement from an educated columnist, I feel it speaks volume's about the mentality behind the hunting movement here in Tennessee. I know that hunting provides the money that funds habitat development and tax dollars fund many agencies that provide stewardship for our wildlife. I have been a hunter up until I was about 45 years old. I have used, archery, shot gun, black powder, rifles and even pistols of several calibers to harvest game. A change occurred in my life when I asked myself why? What am I doing this for? Maybe it's an age thing. I don't know. I am not advocating the elimination of hunting here. Everyone exercises his or her legal rights as they see fit. I can justify my tolerance of it through revenue collection. There are better ways of controlling wildlife populations but this is not the forum for explanations. That all being said; I am deeply disturbed at the idea of opening up a hunting season on these birds. No, they are not nor have ever been close to extinction. The Whooping Crane was and is near extinction. Birds of a feather flock together. The Whoopers and the Sandhill's do share habitat on the ground and in flight. The destruction of a single Whooping Crane is unthinkable and the ramifications of a single death are many. Mr. Hodge's article mentions training. Hunters may be trained to discern the difference between a Whooper and a Sandhill. Education is the answer. Listen to me and listen good. I use the trail just off the Tellico Parkway near Route 95. You've seen my articles about it here on this blog. Trained and educated hunters! The beautiful sign on the trail pointing out a boat landing was destroyed the second day after it's construction. It was donated. It was laboriously dragged over that trail and installed next to the neat, clean little boat landing. It has been perforated by buck shot. Holes all through it. Senseless. I take my dogs on that trail frequently. I have found deer hides and piles of guts right on the trail. Not once, but frequently. I have had to leave the area because of my dogs inability to ignore the refuse. In these cases hunters intentionally blasted the sign and were too lazy and put out to remove entrails from their deer kills back in the woods. In the openness of the trail, they could actually skin the deer. Then just leave the offal IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRAIL. Now, this mentality is going to be trained? Those are just a couple of examples. I have more, but you get the idea. If a season is opened on the Sandhills, I guarantee the Whooping Cranes will suffer the consequences. And what joy or pride could possibly be obtained by ending the life of such a beautiful, graceful bird? Explain that to me. What is it that is so honorable about getting a picture taken holding a dead Sandhill by the neck out to the side and smiling into the camera? Please, someone explain that. There is no habitat destruction that will be prevented by harvesting them. I guess the statement by Mr Hodge says it all----"The freekin things are everywhere." I will be printing an article concerning this issue in the Knoxville Sentinal. I must read Mr Hodge's article and find out a bit about his background first. This idea of slaughtering Sandhills is uncontionable and for an outdoor writer to promote the idea is next to sacrilige. Furthermore, anyone who considers himself a friend of the wilderness and an outdoor columnist who refers to a Sandhill Crane as a freeking thing is a detriment to his newspaper and hunters alike. He certainly is no friend to nature.