Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wyoming should adopt subsistance hunting regulations

Alaska has them.

Canada also has them for "first nation" and Metis hunters.

Subsistance huning is hunting which is, by definition, hunting "for the pot" or "for the freezer".  That is, it acknowledges that the hunter is hunting in order to provide himself food for the year.

Now, truth be known, much hunting in the US is of this type anyhow.  People tend to focus on "trophy hunting", which in the case of big game animals (which is the only type of game it applies to) means animals with impressive antlers, but most hunters actually don't hunt in that fashion.  Most actually are hunting for meat.  You always have to use the meat that you take, of course, so trophy hunting is mixed purpose anyhow.

So, then, what's my point?

Well, the following is.

This year, for the first time since I was fourteen years old, I did not draw an antelope tag.  I've been hearing from friends about not drawing them the past several years, but I was, so I didn't pay too much attention to it.  I could have put in for a landowners tag but I didn't (maybe I should check and see if I still can), but assured by the past that I'd draw, as I always have, I didn't worry too much. 

Well, I flat out didn't draw.

In Wyoming you get to put in for three areas, so what this means is that not only did I not draw, but all three of my choices didn't pan out. 

Now, to put this in context, antelope has been part of my diet now for almost forty years.  For a time in the 1980s and early 1990s, antelope and deer (and maybe elk) provided 100% of the ungulate meat that I consumed in a year, with protein supplemented in the form of rabbit, duck, grouse and fish.  I.e., it was my subsistence.  This only changed when I married, as at that point my ranch girl wife insisted that we incorporate beef, which she was much more used to.  If we could go back and omit the beef (which I like, I'm not complaining) and only do the wild game, I'd do it.

Indeed, I like antelope, a meat that quite a few people complain about. The complainers, in my observation, wreck it by trying to prepare it like beef, which does do it in.  Treated as its own thing, it's good.  In fact, when I first started having beef again, after years of not having it as I was hunting for all my meat, beef tasted rather odd.  I later read that Plains Indians, when they started receiving beef rations, had the same reaction as I did. Beef was too sweet.

Anyhow, this year I didn't draw.  I may be able to pick up a left over tag, but I might not be able to.  It depends on whether I have time that day to apply, and given my schedule, I likely won't.

I did draw an elk tag, but elk are hard to get and most years I don't have ample time to devote to it.  I always go, but I fill out only about 1/3d of the time.

So the whole thing is really disappointing.

So why didn't I draw?

Well, I suppose a variety of reasons. One likely is that the population of the state has grown over the past decade, thanks in part to the oil boom we were having and in part to the uniquely weird American view that any country in the world is capable of having the population infinitely expand without that place eventually become a hideous blight, like Denver.  Now, before I'm accused of things, I'm not advocating all sorts of social engineering and persona pharmaceuticals (which I oppose), but rather noting that a country really can't sanely take in 1,000,000 immigrants every year without it looking, eventually,  like the hideous blight of Denver Colorado.

Part of it too, however, is that the state sells quite a few out of state tags, and antelope tags are a popular one.

Now, I'm not opposed to out of state hunters coming in here to hunt. And I understand that its important for our economy. But I frankly do think that the state ought to heavily favor the local residents.  All states should, in what ever they have.  I don't expect Alaska to give me the same rights in halibut fishing that natives would have.  I don't expect Nebraska to favor me with the same waterfowl hunting opportunities it gives its citizens.  I don't expect Colorado to favor me in. . . um. . . well I can't think of anything that I might compete with a Coloradoan in, in Colorado, but if there was, I'd expect the residents of the hideous blight to have rights to it over me.

If that sounds like favoritism, it is, of a type.  It's localism, and it conceded the nature of local resources.  It's also a species of agrarianism in this context.

Of course, what does that really mean?  

Well, I think Wyoming can and should take a page out of the Canadian playbook, or the Alaskan one, here.  If you have held, I'd say, Wyoming big game permits for a consistent ten years, and if you put in for antlerless as well as antlered in that time, your application should be weighted so that, after the first round of draws are done, those who have not drawn in this category, and who have put in for a classification of "subsistence hunter", should have their applications gone back over and if they didn't draw, they should have their licenses then bump out any anterless out of state, or second license (we have those too) drawn by a resident hunter, so that they get one.  

It would be fair, and it would be based on what hunting is really about.

I'd make that apply, I note, to all game animals.  Yes, I understand that might mean that somebody from Ohio who put in for a high dollar elk tag doesn't draw, but it probably won't mean that as it's probably the case that Ohioans don't put in for cow tags.  But if it did mean that, oh well.  Its fair and it focuses things on the very point of why we hunt.

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