OUR VIEW: Good behavior vital to hunting's survival
The Times and Democrat's longtime outdoors columnist Dr. John Rheney
of Orangeburg has written often about threats to the sport of hunting,
imploring hunters to be conscious of the impact of their behavior.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, along with hunters, works
diligently through youth hunts and other events to promote hunting and
the outdoors. The effort is to interest youth in hunting and teach them
the ethics that must accompany the sport.
As much as hunters and outdoorsmen are among the leading
conservationists of our times, the misdeeds of some are magnified by a
public that by and large does not understand and relate to the sport.
When a hunter casts the sport in a negative public eye, it tends to
color all hunters as blood-thirsty villains interested only in killing.
In The T&D Region - where hunting deer, turkey, doves and more is a
treasured tradition - hunters are among those most critical of those
abusing outdoor privileges.
One high-profile misdeed, in particular, turns non-hunters off to the
sport: illegal dumping of deer carcasses. It happens far too often
during our state's longest-in-the-nation season from August to January.
As one Orangeburg man has told us: "You couldn't miss seeing it." Seven
deer carcasses dumped beside the road and in a ditch near his home.
"They shoot the deer and take the hind quarters and throw the rest away.
I mean that's bad."
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources gets such reports often.
The "callers are usually pretty disgusted," said Charles Ruth, Deer
Project supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
"Proper preparation of harvested deer from the forest to the table is an
important part of hunting," Ruth said. Heads, hides and entrails should
be buried at least 2 to 3 feet deep so dogs or other animals won't dig
up the remains and drag them around.
"Properly disposed deer remains will soon be taken care of by
decomposition and insects," Ruth said, "because nature wastes no
Improper disposal of deer remains is not only a littering crime, it
erodes the public image of hunting.
For those who love the sport, that may be the bigger crime.
Violators of laws on disposing of deer remains should be reported to the
DNR's Operation Game Thief by calling 1-800-922-5431. The 24-hour,
toll-free number is printed on the back of hunting and fishing licenses.
Sportsmen and sportswomen reporting violators through Operation Game
Thief do not have to identify themselves, and rewards are offered for
information leading to arrests.
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