Hunters in a Rut: Public Servants or Public Nuisance?
FoA Releases Deer/Auto Collision Report
Darien, Connecticut — A new report from Friends of Animals contains persuasive evidence, from 33 reporting U.S. states, that deer/auto collisions increase three-fold during the months of October, November, and December — hunting season. More than 500,000 deer get hit by cars each year.
"As autumn approaches, hunters, and the state wildlife agencies which profit from hunting, purport to "control" deer populations as a method of reducing the incidence of deer being hit by drivers," says Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.
Hunting magazines prompt hunters to take advantage of "the rut" — the season in which deer are mating and on the move.
Often, hunters exploit the sexuality of the hunted animals as a method of pursuit. Hunters mimic the calls and scents of mating animals to track or lure them, to get close enough to kill. Jerry Daniels, in Hunting the Whitetail, recommends that "you heat your doe scent to 103 degrees to imitate the smell of a "hot doe."" Deer hunters are keenly aware of the sexually charged state of the bucks they pursue, and depend on it to make the bucks more reckless than usual and thus easier to kill. 
Feral states: "Packaging themselves as public servants, hordes of hunters place themselves in the middle of deer as they attempt to mate, exacerbating the excitement of the deer, then creating death and panic. Both woods and roads would be safer without the presence of hunters."
Connecticut reports 2,434 deer hit and killed by cars during 2003. Of these, 981 deer (40%) were killed during the three month period of October to December, while the remaining 1,453 deer (60%) were killed during the other nine months of the year.
Meanwhile, hunters are finding themselves in a rut of a different sort. The number of hunters in the United States has been in serious, steady decline as indicated in data from the most recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's 2001 National Survey. In 1996, there were 13,975,000 licensed hunters in the U.S. This number declined by 7 percent to 13,034,000 in 2001, the most recent year for which statistics are available. According to the report, hunters numbered 6% of the population as a whole. In Connecticut, hunters make up 1% of the population.
In contrast, nonviolent activities such as non-intrusive observation and photography of free-living animals have become popular with about 31% of U.S. residents, who spend about $40 billion on these interests.
Modern opponents of hunting cite a variety of reasons: environmental, scientific, and, above all, ethical. Killing free-living animals is a tradition we would do well to outgrow. We encourage property owners to post their land against hunting, and to join Friends of Animals in challenging specific hunting proposals.
- Cited by Brian Luke, "Violent Love" (internal citation omitted), Feminist Studies (Fall, 1998); available in portable document format at http://www.academicarmageddon.co.uk/library/hunt.PDF (visited 27 Aug. 2004)