Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hunter Safety

So, I finally got my hunter safety certificate this weekend.

I know what you're thinking, and the reason I've never gotten it before now was mostly that I had other people to do the hunting for me, since my main goal is getting something tasty to bring home and eat, rather than the thrill of the hunt.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the rush of getting a big buck, or successfully stalking an antelope. I get that it trips people's trigger and that's awesome. But that's not me.

I'm not against stalking an antelope even though I may never do it... but my reason would be more along the lines of "but the deer is standing there looking at me like I might have a snack for it while the antelope saw me blink and he's over the horizon."

I'm willing to put the effort in for the good meat, but good deer and good antelope are pretty interchangeable to me flavor wise, but the effort to get them is vastly different. Especially since in my opinion if an antelope isn't pretty calm to start with and dropped in its tracks it's bad antelope, not good.

So, mostly, when I got a craving for game I'd tell FarmDad or Darlin Man "Go shoot some x and I'll cook it" or just "Go shoot some rabbits and we'll throw em in the freezer" because I love rabbit.

But, this weekend there happened to be a class and it happened to be free and also happened to be conducted by the most entertaining and personable game warden we've had in these parts for ages, so I figured it would be less boring than it could be and figured I'd go ahead and get it done.

Did, didn't learn a whole lot I didn't already know via osmosis, but it was entertaining. We had several kids in the class and the game warden (quite correctly) built his teaching around them, not the adults (of which there were also several,) and got really interactive with them which was fun.

Got a hundred on the written test and got handed my card since I have my concealed carry and thus am assumed to have safe firearms handling skills which are part of the whole thing here in Colorado, but I went out to watch the live fire anyway because I enjoy watching the kids get to shoot.

All in all there are worse ways I could have spent that time, and now I can get my own danged small game license and get my own danged rabbits... though I did discover via our game identification/habitat handbook that we are viable habitat for spotted skunks. I don't think I've ever seen one, but I totally want a pelt.

Also, in-state mountain lion and bear licenses have plummeted, cost wise. On the bears that's mostly because the bait-is-bad contingent got baiting for bears outlawed. I can understand the part where drawing them in from miles away isn't sporting, but I also understand first hand the consequences of the resultant population boom (they got rid of the spring bear season at the same time, IIRC.)

Over a hundred bears have been euthanized just so far this year, just in Colorado Springs, according to the game warden. Just in Colorado Springs. The population pressure without the control and higher likelihood of a successful cull that we had with the spring hunt and the bait has resulted in less food to go around and more bears coming into contact with humans.

Which is why I never reported the monster black bear that would walk down our alley when Darlin Man and I lived right by that little dry creek that backed onto undeveloped hilly scrubby area. Because he wasn't getting into the trash, he wasn't going after the dogs (he checked them out a time or two but believe me if he had wanted to eat them the fence we had there wouldn't have caused him any inconvenience at all) and he was literally just passing through. But if I'd called him in, he could have been euthanized for that. There was a certain amount of nothing you can do, keep your trash cans fastened closed and don't interact with the bears kind of attitude where we were but in other areas they have gone to a no-strikes policy. Bear is in town, gets reported, bear gets tranqed or trapped and loaded up, taken out of public view, and put down.

So, being the proper nature lover that I am, I do have a bit of a yen for a black bear hunt. It'd be neat to be able to have a bearskin rug from a bear I got, and that would be one more bear towards a properly balanced system in which we get a good number of healthy bears doing their ecological job instead of a bunch of borderline or unhealthy bears that come into town because there's not enough food in the hills, but there is in all those garbage cans in town.

I don't know that I ever will do a bear hunt, since we don't have enough in this area to make it a problem, and I don't really know the area over west by the foothills where they are a problem well enough to feel comfortable hiking about in them by myself. Here we get the occasional bear on a telephone pole or last year I think a little cinnamon stage juvenile took over someone's doghouse because he thought it was a good place to den up. Over there we were picking up trash all the time and watching Gigantobear (I'm telling you that black bear had to be hip high or more on me at the shoulder, and built like a brick shithouse... he was big for a black bear) take his evening stroll down the alley because it was easier walking than the streambed.

So yeah, if I could get a decent guide that I trusted to hunt with for a bear hunt, I'd definitely consider it. On the other hand it's not at all like it's a driving passion or anything, so I probably won't look too hard.