Hunting's Dirty Little Secret
They don't want you to know that it happens. Many hunters will deny it if confronted with the issue. It's something they really don't like to talk about outside their circle of confidants. The hard and cruel fact is that many hunters have no problem shooting a dog that just so happens to be in the woods while in pursuit of their designated trophy. This shocking expose is not against the sport of hunting at all. There are many hunters who could never perform such an unthinkable act as killing a companion animal. This expose is to simply open the eyes of pet owners everywhere that there is a certain mentality that exists in some individuals that defies civilized logic.
Living in a rural area, I have heard the sorrowful stories that every deer hunting season brings. Family pets that are used to romping in the woods and hillsides of their country homes will suddenly vanish between bow and gun season each year without a trace. The cold, hard fact is the most probable reason is that they are shot. Yes, hard as it is to imagine, willfully gunned down while innocently getting in the way of an aggressive hunter who just may happen be tracking his trophy with no thought to the pain it might inflict on the owners of a loving family pet. This article is certainly not to trash area hunters as a whole. There are many responsible sportsmen who deal with the many degrees of tough natural obstacles as well as respecting the federally mandated laws to earn their honor. Then there are others who will do anything to achieve their own personal gain. That success unfortunately goes as far as shooting a defenseless family pet that just might happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you live in the county and own a free roaming dog, please read this article with the urgency that it's intended and please take it to heed.
"Yea, it's not a good thing, but many of my friends say if they're confronted with a dog tracking a deer while they are out in their tree stand, they will just shoot it." This chilling admission comes from one of many local area hunters that I personally spoke with concerning the disregard of an animal that is so closely tied to us as human beings. He went on to say, "With all of the time and preparation of hunters getting their stands together, they will do just about anything to preserve their spot. If a dog happens to come by, they will simply take it out."
Shooting or killing a dog for what it simply does naturally is one of the most selfish and heinous acts I can personally imagine. I spoke with another avid hunter who admitted that there are some hunt clubs who condone the mass extermination of dogs within their boundaries. According to his account, "I know that there are some zones of private hunting areas where the hunters are told to go ahead and take out any dogs they might encounter." His explanation was that any dog found within their boundaries "was probably either a stray or a dumped animal." Even with that kind of misdirected logic, I have a hard time justifying it as anywhere close to an ample cause. I must for the record state that all of my sources who personally spoke to me on this issue all deny ever shooting a dog themselves. They were very honest and candid as they described to me the mind set that many other hunters have during this extremely competitive time of year. They also admitted that deer hunters from other areas who invade our woodsy environment aren't from around here and just don't take it personally if a dog has to be sacrificed to insure the sanctity of their hunting area.
After talking with more than a dozen local area hunters, I found the results astounding. My first though was "do any of our local rural pet owners have any idea that this mentality exists and to what degree?" My second great concern was how do you address this topic without angering the entire hunting community as a whole? Again, there are many responsible gamesmen who don't let the regulations or any other inconvenient obstacles get in their way of enjoying the hunting season with all of the sport that it does provide. I unfortunately feel the need to warn all dog and pet owners throughout our area that this dark side is indeed a huge and grim reality.
My advice to all rural dog owners is simply this. If you want to avoid the heartbreak of waiting and worrying for a family pet to return home that never does, don't let them run free during hunting season. I guarantee they won't hold it against you just because they have to be contained for a couple of weeks in October and November. Believe it or not, your dogs will be very forgiving. It's a small inconvenience and a huge piece of mind just knowing that one of your family members is home warm and safe. The harsh reality of the alternative is far too sad and bleak to imagine.
I would like to thank the honesty and insight provided by all of the area hunters that I talked with in preparing this article. I realize it was tough for some to admit to me things they knew I really didn't want to hear. I respect all who opened up and tried to put me right up there in the tree stand with them. For the other ones who choose to shoot dogs instead of deer this hunting season, I hope before you squeeze the trigger in your sight that you visualize the little boy or girl who will spend countless hours of waiting and praying for a loved one that will never return. Sleep tight.