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C.A.S.H. ACTION ALERT
 
OPPOSE ANNUAL DEER HUNT EVENTS FOR DISABLED HUNTERS

January 21, 2009
by MARGARET M. ANDERSEN

 Heron Glen Golf Course, Hunterdon County - Anyone with a physical or mental condition severe enough to interfere with the proper use of weapons, and needing help to handle them, should not be allowed to hunt.

- Accidents are increased with multiple parties handling weapons. Insurance coverage is never enough compensation for a life or injury to an innocent party.

- Hunting is a privilege, not a necessity, and participants should not be exposing themselves to risks.

- A quickie gun safety course, or hunter safety orientation, especially for some participants who may not have hunted in years, is no safety precaution under the above circumstances.

- Issuance of a hunting license is not equated with ability, even though passing an initial Hunter Education Course is required, because renewals are obtainable by just showing any previous year’s license.

- Hunters are not required to report any disabilities when purchasing a license. Therefore, a license can be renewed annually, without qualification as to the existence or degree of disability.

- Anyone needing to use gun-adaptive devices, such as puff-and-sip rifles, joysticks, crossbow devices, etc. in order to enjoy the outdoor hunting experience, should not be allowed to hunt. Another device used at Heron Glen reportedly involved resting a shotgun on a swinging rod with a y-shaped top that connects to the wheelchair’s footrest. “A companion tapes his finger to a piece of metal that is hooked around the trigger.”

- Under the best circumstances, hunting is only as safe as the person using the weapon. Attorneys specializing in gun law, firearms and weapons charges can expunge criminal records, making them legally deemed not to have occurred. This may include arrests, warrants, complaints, judicial docket records, and mental health records. Many hunting complaints go unreported for fear of retaliation.

Missing components of what constitutes hunting at this “event” are staggering, such as fair chase, marksmanship, individual moral challenges and judgments associated with pursuing wild animals, tracking the wounded, and total responsibility for handling weapons – all of which are missing or compromised when someone else takes over.

What is unique, is that the parks and recreation department can be credited for introducing aberrant hunting behavior in our state, and finally exposing a well-known, conflict-generating reason for hunting – the thrill of pulling a trigger, also called the trigger-happy, or shooting stage – because that’s what’s left, all things considered. Even the Make-A-Wish Foundation will not permit animal-killing requests, due to a major public outcry.

Efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) to promote hunting, sometimes in controversial ways and circumstances, throughout the United States, are not unique. In fact, a variety of hunting organizations exist, many with political support, influence, and lobbyists, banding together to push intrusive, pro-hunting initiatives, legislation, and programs in direct conflict with the rest of society – personally, environmentally, and recreationally.

According to a Hunter Education Study Guide, there are 3 well-known stages of hunting, ranging fro the “trigger happy” or shooting stage, to where hunting may be incidental to enjoying the outdoors.

If it is true that outdoor enjoyment is one of the main reasons given for hunting, then these individuals can enjoy parks and wildlife without the Parks Department calling in a hunting organization, unless they like being crammed into a heated tent and killing deer instead of enjoying living nature and photography.

If they enjoy marksmanship, opportunities abound for competitive target shooting all the way to the Olympics.

If they want to eat deer meat, other hunters will gladly give it to them.

In fact, many aspects of the ENTIRE HUNTING EXPERIENCE, including individual pursuit, and retrieval of wounded animals, dressing the kill, and most importantly, unwritten decision-making ethics challenges are missing when someone else takes over.

IF ONE SUBTRACTS THE POSSIBLE REASONS HUNTERS COMMONLY GIVE FOR HUNTING, not associated just with killing, THEY CAN BE SATISFIED OTHERWISE.

THE ONLY CREDIT THE PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT CAN CLAIM HERE IS PROVIDING THE SATISFACTION OF PULLING A TRIGGER TO KILL AN ANIMAL, BECAUSE THAT’S ALL THAT’S LEFT.

PLEASE NOTIFY ALL OF THE FOLLOWING

Freeholder Director William G. Mennen
E-mail: wmennen@co.hunterdon.nj.us 
Write: Hunterdon County Board of Freeholders
P.O. Box 2900 Flemington, New Jersey 08822

John Trontis, Director, Hunterdon County Department Of Parks and Recreation
E-mail: parks@co.hunterdon.nj.us 
Write: P.O. Box 2900 Flemington, New Jersey 08822
Phone: (908) 788-1159

Pat Swartz, Administrator, Office of Recreation
E-mail: pswartz@dca.state.nj.us
Write: N.J. Department of Community Affairs Division of Community Resources
P.O. Box 806 Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Letters to Editor – Hunterdon County Democrat
E-mail: letters@hcdemocrat.com
Write: 8 Minneakoning Road Flemington, New Jersey 08822

MARGARET’S EXCELLENT LETTER TO THE EDITOR
IGNOMINY, NOT PRAISE

To the Editor:

Drifting further into the danger zone of irrationality, the Freeholders and Department of Parks and Recreation have ignored requests to discontinue promoting white-tailed deer “hunt-events” staged at the county Heron Glen Golf Course for hunters requiring assistance handling weapons.

Additional insult was added upon non-hunters and people opposed to exploiting the concept of disability this year when the Parks Department received an award from the state Recreation Commission “for a unique recreational activity serving people with disabilities.”

As a result, the Freeholders, Parks Department and Commission were issued a five-page response in which relevant details are now shared.

It is true that people hunt simply because they enjoy it apart from any bureaucratically-employed environmental or license-generating agendas typically fueling its promotion. Although legal, it is controversial since hunting is not the same as hiking, canoeing, fishing, skateboarding, skiing, tennis or soccer, for example.

Helping individuals hunt on public and private land is not unique. There are degrees of disability that do not interfere with the ability to handle a weapon or abide by the definition of hunting responsibilities. What is unique for this event is the unabashed disregard for safety concerns and common sense which demands that anyone with a physical or mental condition severe enough to interfere with the handling and discharge of implements used for killing should not be hunting.

Accidents increase with multiple parties handling weapons. Insurance coverage is never enough compensation for a life or injury. Hunting, at best, is only as safe as the person taking the shot.

Missing components of what constitutes hunting at this “hunt-event” are staggering such as fair chase, marksmanship, individual moral challenges and judgments associated with pursuing wild animals, tracking the wounded – all of which are compromised when someone else may be controlling split-second decisions.

Efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation (engaged by the Parks Department to sponsor this event) to promote hunting, sometimes in controversial ways, are not unique. In fact, a variety of hunting organizations exist, many with political support, influence and lobbyists, banding together to facilitate intrusive, pro-hunting initiatives, legislation and programs in direct conflict with the aims of society – personally, environmentally, and recreationally.

Anyone who needs to use gun-adaptive gear such as puff-and-sip equipment, joysticks or “connecting the trigger on a gun or crossbow to a mouth tube,” should not be hunting. A device reportedly used at Heron Glen involved resting a shotgun on a swinging rod with a Y-shaped top that connects to the wheelchair’s footrest. “A companion tapes his finger to a piece of metal that is hooked around the trigger.”

The award endorses aberrant hunting activity by honoring outside collaboration with hunting agendas already existing within the Parks Department, which are causing conflicts with people forced to wear blaze-orange for their safety 6 days a week, 6 months of the year.

Boastfully calling this hunt-anomaly a success because the NWTF paid the bill (cost unknown), supplied park rangers with additional volunteers and made a handful of participants happy, the county segregates the dissenting public. We’re all handicapped to some degree. Honoring needless exposure to danger does not represent the depth of charity exhibited by the commission’s other choice for commendation and is cause for ignominy, not praise.

Participants may or may not be oblivious to these repercussions. But the selfishness displayed by the Freeholds and Department of Parks and Recreation which they govern in order to achieve controversial hunting-interest ends by any means is inexcusable.

The white-tailed deer “hunt-event” sets a bad precedent and should be terminated.

MARGARET M. ANDERSEN
Raritan Township
HUNTERDON COUNTY DEMOCRAT 12/11/08.

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