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  • noodlesmcduck

    July 11, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Good on you for reaching out and trying to learn about something seemingly uncomfortable. Feel free to reach out via PM if you ever want to chat further about it.

    I spent much of my career working in environmental conservation research. Like you, I love animals, nature, and consider myself to by a huge environmentalist. My family never hunted, nor did I growing up. But I began hunting as an adult/as a scientist specifically because it’s a means of maintaining and increasing the health of ecosystems.

    I spent many years studying ecosystems in Northern America. And several projects revolves around seemingly “missing generations” of plant species in un-hunted forests. This means that as large trees die, forests were not replacing them with younger saplings/seedlings because over many decades, the younger trees seemed to disappear.

    The cause? Overpopulation of white tailed deer. Excessive deer browse drastically alters forest biodiversity and destroys ecosystems for many other animal/plant species, often even causing localized extinction!

    And what’s amazing is that this problem isn’t quite as pronounced (or is often even mitigated) in forests with healthy hunting programs. Keeping deer within the land’s carrying capacity (keeping their numbers at a healthy level) maximizes deer Heath (much less starvation and disease) and also allows the land to maintain ecosystem diversity!

    So I started hunting deer. My state allows for venison donations to food shelters, so I tend to keep 1-2 for my family, and donate one to the shelter.

    The hobby has given me tremendous respect for the deer’s lives, and I’m very conscious about only taking humane shots I’m confident in. It’s also greatly changed my lifestyle in that I now do a much better job of wasting less food and using 100% of the animal. I know confidently that the animals I consume are free range and were taken humanely.

    So while I never hunted before and previously couldn’t understand why others did so, I now get it. Not only does hunting help the environment (legal hunting, obviously), but it can also instill a deep respect for nature and one’s resources.