Hunters, farmlands often a bad mix

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Outdoors-Ed Coleman

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“There was quite a ruckus here Saturday,” the farmer said. “Hunters with dogs came into my pasture from two different directions and stampeded the cattle. The cattle ran into my fences and tore them down. It took a long time to round them up.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. First of all, to get anywhere near the farmer’s cattle pasture, hunters had to cross dykeland and through alder stands well posted with no hunting signs. Secondly, hunters are aware dogs and cattle are a bad mix and are best kept apart. Either dogs panic cattle into running into fences or cattle charge en masse at the dogs, often with damage to fences and to the cattle.

So how could this happen? Actually, I should ask why it happened, why some hunters ignore game laws, why they fail to respect landowner rights, and why they never think of the repercussions other hunters eventually face due to their careless actions.

I have one answer to all these “whys.” Some hunters – and especially some pheasant hunters – have the attitude that game laws were written for someone other than them and they have the right to go on anyone’s field, dyke or pasture to hunt.

It was pheasant hunters who stampeded the farmer’s cattle and, fortunately, there were no injuries. The majority of farmer-hunter problems that arise are caused by pheasant hunters, by the way. Ever hear of farmers having problems with rabbit, grouse, duck and deer hunters? Rarely ever. Ask any landowner why his land is posted, why he firmly says “no” when you ask for permission to hunt, and you’ll discover 99 per cent of the time he’s had problems with pheasant hunters.

The majority of pheasant hunters, in fact the majority of small and big game hunters, are responsible people. They respect the rights of the landowner, observe game regulations and are considerate of fellow hunters.

But not that tiny minority, the proverbial bad apple in the proverbial barrel.  Their thoughtless action, such as the recent incident with the farmer’s cattle, tars all hunters with the same brush.

It was an unfortunate incident, but similar things have occurred before where pheasants are hunted. What group of hunters do you think is most responsible for legislation regarding hunting on cultivated land, asking for permission to hunt, for the shorter upland season in the Valley and so on?  Right on if you guessed pheasant hunters. 

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