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Let me provide a hunter’s perspective on hunting

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Dan Phelps

Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:21 am, Thu Dec 1, 2011.

I love to hunt. I love to cook and eat my game. And while many of my friends don’t hunt, I love to have them over for a wild game dinner.

Many are a bit apprehensive at the thought of dining on something I dragged home from the field. However, after dining on pan-roasted wild duck with golden raisin-orange sauce, they come away with a new appreciation for eating wild game.

The recent article featuring Randy Thomas and his animal collection generated some reaction.

Some people object to the sight of exotic animal heads on the wall. But they don’t realize that trophy animals are carefully managed by biologists in order to preserve the species. Older, non-productive animals are selected for culling because they no longer breed.

Naively, I once thought, “If one can’t eat it, one shouldn’t shoot it,” and I was against the taking of African game. But I discovered that these African animals are indeed consumed by the local villagers, who depend not only on meat provided by these hunters, but also the revenues generated by sport hunting.

In recent testimony to Congress, it was reported that sport hunting generates $200 million annually in remote rural areas of southern Africa. And National Geographic reported that hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa because it creates financial incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use. These financial incentives are the reason many species are now thriving. In Kenya, where no financial incentives or hunting are present, wildlife population levels are declining. Enough said.

Let’s move on to what hunting provides to our society and wildlife in general. Starting in the early 1900s, hunters and anglers recognized the need for a national-based program to promote wildlife conservation. These outdoorsmen were the first environmentalists. Early in the process, the total protection of animals was favored over conservation, and the result was overpopulation, habitat destruction and mass starvation. Wildlife conservation is now a science, and biologists use hunting to help manage wildlife.

So where does the individual hunter come in? Virtually all the funding for these conservation efforts comes from the hunters and anglers. It is estimated that about $4.7 million per day is generated by the licensing and excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment to fund these conservation programs.

And that doesn’t include the conservation efforts by private organizations like Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and others, supported by hunters, that pump an estimated $300 million into conservation and restoration of habitat that benefit not just the game animals, but also non-game animals and all outdoor enthusiasts.

The results are staggering. In 1900, the white-tailed deer population was around 500,000. It is now estimated at about 36 million. The pronghorn antelope, once down to about 12,000 head just 50 years ago, now number 1 million. There are more antelope in Wyoming than people. Elk have multiplied to 12 times their 1900 numbers, and wild turkeys have increased 50 times their 1952 totals. And all of these species are now hunted as part of the conservation activities funded by sportsmen.

Without hunters funding these programs, where would the money come from? General Fund? PETA? Give me a break.

Many condemn hunting as barbaric, suggesting it is inhumane and carried out by sick individuals bent on mayhem. But that logic, or lack thereof, just doesn’t hold up. Hunting is part of our human heritage, our DNA, fueled by our need for meat, resulting in what amounts to a fiercely personal endeavor to succeed in taking that animal quickly and cleanly. Death in nature is often not quick and clean. Wolves will tear a fawn apart while it is still conscious. Starvation, while natural, is slow and cruel.

Death is a part of nature, as are we.

And because we strive for that perfect shot, whether on a big game animal or a mallard landing on our decoy spread, we celebrate our success at executing a quick, clean kill.

Hunting is a healthy diversion that cultivates honesty, self-discipline and ethical behavior. And it’s a heck of a lot of work providing delicious, natural protein without antibiotics or plastic wrapping.

Dan Phelps grew up in Lodi and is a partner at Bowman & Company, a Stockton CPA firm. An outdoor enthusiast, he hunts with his two Labrador retrievers. He is also a certified Hunter Education Instructor, teaching classes required to obtain a hunting license.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:25 pm on Wed, Dec 7, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Perhaps Mr. Paglia is confusing the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies with the US Department of Fish & Wildlife Service.

    I crunched THEIR numbers and I still came out with 2.2 million per day, which includes ALL gun sales, not just hunting rifles.

    Great, Mr. Baumbach - when do you leave? And please, tell me that you won't be camping out in a cush hotel with Internet service, which is what you seemingly did last year.

  • Phillip Beaty posted at 1:21 am on Mon, Dec 5, 2011.

    Cali555 Posts: 1

    Trophy hunters shot the last male lion in the bumi region this year, this means no male lions no mating, in other words trophy hunters have basically wiped out lions in that region. Another full pride was wiped out this year (Males shot by trophy hunters and females poisoned by farmers, they were all tagged) Plus another two electronically tagged desert lions were killed by trophy hunters this year. How is that conservation?

    If you do research into trophy hunting in Africa you will see there is more bad things weighing out the good things.
    There are hunt operators that do the things you say but there is many that don't.

  • Stephen Terra posted at 8:00 pm on Sun, Dec 4, 2011.

    wrenchmaster Posts: 1

    Another benefit from trophy hunting, especially in Africa is that the local people are paid directly from the hunters and outfitters. With the rampant government corruption, a small amount of aid that is sent is actually used for the people intended. I saw this during a safari in east africa personally. I have no issues wth the people that like photo safaris, but please don't denigrate hunters. As far as all the high tech goodies used by hunters, they are not much help. BTW, I will be proudly going on another safari soon.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:02 pm on Fri, Dec 2, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Kevin stated...No, I am not a hunter. I prefer to stalk my prey with a camera.

    Me too Kevin...Love my cannon ... Ill be in Thailand soon taking all sorts of pictures of wildlife and things... no hunting for me....

  • Kim Lee posted at 4:20 pm on Fri, Dec 2, 2011.

    Kim Lee Posts: 1798

    "pan-roasted wild duck with golden raisin-orange sauce"


  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:43 pm on Fri, Dec 2, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2115

    A write up on the numbers:



    Crunch the numbers on the second and look at how much hunting and fishing contribute. Roughly 191 BILLION in economic impact, sales, jobs and licensing. That is about 523 million per DAY.

    No, I am not a hunter. I prefer to stalk my prey with a camera.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:10 am on Fri, Dec 2, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Phelps has provided some interesting information, but it is telling that, as an accountant, he couldn't help but "fudge" the numbers.

    While it is true that a huge amount of money is generated by hunters, I found the figure of 4.7 million PER DAY to be quite high. According to the 2005 numbers of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 746 million annually was generated by access fees and licenses. That works out to 2 million per day.

    It it estimated that, since the excise tax on guns, ammunition and gear was instituted in 1937, it has generated 4.2 billion - let's say over 70 years, that works out to be about 60 million per year, or 165,000 per day for a total of about 2.2 million per day for fees, licenses, guns, ammo, and gear - and let's consider that the excise taxes paid for guns and ammunition are not all attibutable to hunters. At least half of these taxes are for handguns, not hunting rifles, unless hunters have now taken to shooting game with pistols.

    As we all know, a huge increase in gun sales took place upon the election of President Obama as 2nd Amendment enthusiasts were scared into believing that Obama was "gunning for them," so to speak.

    If we use Mr. Phelps' numbers, that adds up to an incredible amount of individual hunters. The money generated by the industry should rightly be used for land and animal management to support the costs of hunters' "enjoyment" of our natural resources.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 10:42 am on Fri, Dec 2, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2115

    A good story of a true hunter and outdoorsman:


  • Jim Harris posted at 7:57 am on Fri, Dec 2, 2011.

    Jharris Posts: 1

    Although the author makes several good arguments defending the sport of hunting, he also fails to mention the entire industry known as "canned hunting." True - some hunters travel all the way to Africa to shoot an antelope....but some just go to fenced ranch in Texas to shoot their trophy. And I can guarantee the money for that shoot (not hunt) is not going to any local villages. That's killing for the sake of a trophy to mount on your living room wall, and nothing about that amounts to conservation.

  • roy bitz posted at 9:53 pm on Thu, Dec 1, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 503

    I apperciate a fair fight but I cannot see how hunting these days is a fair fight.
    Hunters have state of the art weapons, scopes, gps, atvs, comfortable clothing, food and water at will--ictwhatever.
    The prey has it's instincts.That's it.
    This is why I cannot buy into any of the "hunter's logic".
    You want a fair fight---be a bow hunter with one arrow. Otherwise---get a camera and let us see what you can come up with.

  • Bob Johnson posted at 8:45 am on Thu, Dec 1, 2011.

    Bob Johnson Posts: 31

    thoughtful and well balanced response on a very sensitive topic

  • daniel hutchins posted at 8:29 am on Thu, Dec 1, 2011.

    daniel hutchins Posts: 1342

    This hunter eats his game.
    This is the difference.


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