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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Winter 2009 Issue

HUNTING FOR THE DISABLED

Margaret Andersen has given considerable thought to the subject of hunting for the disabled. With her permission, we are reprinting her excellent letter. Please use the many points that she has made to fight hunting for the disabled.

IGNOMINY, NOT PRAISE

Letter by MARGARET M. ANDERSEN
Raritan Township

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 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.

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