Hunters Ignore CWD
Original estimates predicted that as many as one-third of Wisconsin’s hunters would skip the 2002 deer gun season because of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Early license sales were down 19 percent, but apparently a ton of hunters bought hunting licenses the week before the Wisconsin deer gun season. In fact, on the last day before the season alone, hunters bought 70,000 licenses. There is no question that the media had hunters scared. However, as more information became available, the fear apparently subsided.
Latest estimates are that gun deer license sales (618,945) were only 10 percent below last year and hunters harvested 261,093 deer during the regular 9-day gun season, also down 10 percent from last year. The state had wanted to test 50,000 deer for CWD, but hunters registered only 36,000. Apparently the concern about eating CWD-positive deer dwindled, just as it has in Colorado. At present, 41 deer have tested positive for CWD in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, CWD is not impacting license sales in Nebraska. Early figures showed archery license sales up 14 percent, and overall hunting license sales were unchanged from 2001.
Most Wisconsin meat processors also returned to duty. Only 30 of 200 meat processors registered with the state did not butcher deer in 2002. While farmers are very concerned about CWD spreading from deer to cattle, it remains to be seen whether this concern will lead to more farms being opened to the public for deer hunting.
Part of the Wisconsin scare that kept hunters from the woods occurred when the press speculated that three men who consumed venison each year at a wild game dinner died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (a brain-prion disease closely related to CWD). The release of this information spread fear throughout the Wisconsin hunting community. However, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health has just released tests on this highly publicized, but sad case. Turns out that two of the victims had no evidence of a brain-prion disease. The third was confirmed to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. If indeed all three had died from CJD, then the probability that they had gotten it from venison was fairly high. However, that has now been discounted.
Finally, scientists in Nebraska have examined 11 different genotypes in whitetail deer, and all had CWD. The conclusion from this is that CWD is not a genetic disease. I will include a CWD Update in future Know Hunting columns so that you can keep abreast of this disease.
Bowhunter is Charged
The Associated Press reported that an Ohio bowhunter was charged with involuntary manslaughter after he shot and killed another bowhunter. Apparently the man shot from his treestand just before dawn, hitting the second hunter in the thigh from a distance of 9 yards.
Andy Rooney Falls Flat
Bowhunter and writer James Swan advised me to look at the December 1, 2002, commentary by Andy Rooney on CBSNEWS.com. Many conservatives (myself included) cast a wary eye at liberal media types simply because they don’t present the news. Rather, they present their version of the news. Often, such reports are not based on facts. Andy Rooney now joins that group. Here is a quote from his weekly commentary on the web. “Hunting deer with a rifle is one thing, but shooting at anything with a bow and arrow is barbaric. Imagine all the places you could hit a deer with an arrow and not kill it.” Yes, Mr. Rooney, just imagine. I could quote the Camp Ripley bow study, showing the real truth on bow wounding, but my guess is that Mr. Rooney wouldn’t really care to know the facts. (Also, see Dwight Schuh’s Editorial “To Hunt or Not to Hunt” in the March/April ’03 issue.)
BOW Workshops Make a Difference
Becoming An Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshops have taught thousands of women all forms of outdoor skills, including target archery and bowhunting. Recent research shows that this program increases hunting and fishing license sales, and that women who complete the program take away a positive feeling about hunting and fishing, and a positive opinion of state wildlife agencies. This great program started in 1991 with around 100 workshops. In 2002, BOW hosted more than 20,000 workshops. For information on a workshop in your state or province, go to www.uwsp.edu/cnr/bow/.
Physically Challenged Score on Antelope
Last September the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America (PCBA) hosted what may well have been one of the most successful hunts of its kind ever held. Steve Beilgard of Antelope Outfitters hosted the hunt in Gillette, Wyoming, for 18 physically challenged hunters. The hunter’s disabilities ranged from paraplegia, to limb amputations, to total blindness. Such disabilities did not deter these brave bowhunters killed 16 antelope bucks four does during the completely fair chase hunt. Hmmm. Let me understand this. We have 18 men and women in wheelchairs, with limbs missing, without sight, and they harvested 20 antelope in 5 days? Maybe I’d better rethink my recent hunting failures.
While the PCBA arranges two hunts each year for disabled hunters, its main mission is to provide physically challenged people with the guidance and information needed to get started in or to return to archery and bowhunting. Last year they sent information on adaptive equipment to more than 1,200 people. This organization deserves your support. Send donations or inquiries about equipment, to: PCBA, RR 1, Box 470, New Alexandria, PA 15670-9240.
Hunting and Fishing is Big Business
In West Virginia one of every four residents hunts or fishes, and annual expenditures by these outdoors enthusiasts exceed the cash receipts from the state’s top five commodities -– broilers, cattle, dairy products, turkeys, and eggs ($340 million vs. $332 million). Pennsylvania sportsmen nearly equal the combined populations of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (1.8 million vs. 1.85 million), and they support more jobs than Penn State University (33,815 vs. 25,000). There are nearly twice as many sportsmen in Michigan as members of labor unions (1.7 million vs. 968,000). Annual spending by Texas sportsmen equals nearly 10 percent of the gross state product for oil and gas ($4.1 billion vs. $45 billion). For information of this type for your state go to the website of the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation, www.sportsmenslink.org/Sportman/state.html.