• northwoods hunting

Minnesota’s rifle hunting season is open and Wisconsin’s is two weeks away. Minnesota Public Radio had a fluff piece this week on the “tradition” of the hunting camp with all its camaraderie and wholesome family bonding. The nostalgia is nice but it seems like our outdoors heritage is being replaced by a virulent gun centered paranoia. Hunting is declining in popularity while gun sales are increasing. Most of the new gun ownership is being driven by a small minority of 2nd amendment nuts.

This change is illustrated by an encounter I had last year with several “sportsman.” I was hiking a public trail on public land. Three men on four wheelers came by on their way into the woods. In a few minutes of conversation several disturbing assertions were made.

One individual commented that he “never went anywhere without his gun.” He had a holstered pistol on his side and a high powered rifle in a scabbard on the vehicle. This was in August and no hunting seasons were open. Another person said it was a shame that the “best hay field” in the area was now a wildlife refuge and off the tax rolls.
What is a grown man so afraid of that he feels the need to carry a gun? Douglas County is not a high crime area. Terrorists and immigrants are not rampaging. We certainly do not have a problem with bear or wolf attacks. Why the paranoia?

One would think that hunters would be in favor of setting aside land for wildlife. Efforts by the DNR and private organizations like Ducks Unlimited are a major reason we have wildlife to hunt. Why are these gun owners so opposed to environmental protection? It all makes no sense.

In contrast to the irrational fear of these individuals is the story of a friend of mine from Wausau. He writes about growing up with a positive hunting tradition. His article reflects my experience growing up in a hunting family. I think this tradition represents our real Minnesota and Wisconsin outdoor values much better than the gun toting, open carry, concealed carry crowd. We can only hope that rational behavior will eventually win over paranoia.