Guest Column (12/10/09)

Enjoying safe hunting

Dec. 10, 2009

By Leo Boutin

The thrill of the hunt is something that has been passed down from generation to generation. In some cases, even after taking your prey, the longing to return and try again is very strong. The call of the wild is as old as time.

Ever since I was old enough to have a BB gun, hunting became part of my life. New seasons were always a treat to see what we could harvest on my grandfather’s farm where we lived. I still remember the first buck I got — it was a spike horn (which was legal to take back then) — and the pleasure I got from putting meat on our family’s table for the first time. And by harvesting a deer, we had something different to eat. With a family of 11, it was a very welcome treat indeed.

Though I don’t take as much time to hunt anymore, I still love harvesting deer as much as always. I have been very lucky in the past; not many seasons have passed without my bringing home at least one deer. But I am still looking forward to bagging my first 200-pound deer, or larger.

Plus, hunting gives me a chance to look over the land, see what trees have fallen, see any problem areas and keep up on the welfare of our woodlands. It also allows me to see what other animals are out traveling through the property. On one occasion, I watched a fisher cat playing, running and jumping from tree to tree, just having a good time. It was the first and only time in my life that I had seen a live fisher cat. It will always be a very memorable event for me.

My wife and I have three children who all love to come home to a venison feast. It’s still a great addition to our winter bounty, and it is lower in fat then most of the other meats we enjoy. I butcher all my deer myself; there is very little waste. We have a commercial grinder and the tougher cuts go into hamburgers and sausage. My venison sausage is always a big hit, whether at home or when camping with family and friends.

Hunting and shooting guns can be a safe and fun thing to do, but it does take precaution. Responsible hunters are not littering the land with lead. They are sure of their targets and the spent lead is brought home with the kill, not left to pollute the environment. Currently, though, the shooting ranges in our state don’t have to adhere to that same ethic.

I hope that in the near future, all gun clubs will work with the state Fish & Wildlife Department, Environmental Protection Agency and the National Rifle Association to keep the environment and waterways safe by following the practices outlined in the EPA’s Best Management Practices and reclaiming the lead shot used in shooting ranges so animals and humans can drink clean water.


Leo Boutin is a Williston resident.