The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Columns

September 29, 2013

Shoot Tarzan, just don't call it a hunt

Since the Minnesota archery deer season opened two weeks ago, many hunters have logged many hours in their stands waiting for a trophy buck to wander by.

Before that, they probably spent weeks scouting, viewing trail camera photos, erecting stands in promising ambush points, all for the chance to harvest one for the wall.

But they really wouldn’t have to work so hard.

They could just go to Craig’s List, where forking over $9,400 could buy them the opportunity to shoot “Tarzan,” a 4-year-old, big-racked whitetail buck that apparently has outlived his usefulness as a stud at a deer farm near Vergas, Minn.

Sporting impressive head gear scoring about 240 points, Tarzan is billed by his owner as the “Buck of Bucks.”

Now, if you’re a proponent of free markets and good old-fashioned capitalism, it’s hard to blame a fellow for trying to make some bucks from the buck.

After all, big antlers are big business. Trophy racks can fetch pretty fair sums from serious antler collectors.

So sell ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.

But from a hunter’s point of view, there is something sad, even a little pathetic, in all of this.

Stalking a tame deer that is confined to a fenced, 25-acre site isn’t a hunt. It’s an execution.

A fundamental tenet of modern-day hunting is the idea of fair chase, of pursuing wild game roaming free and unfenced.

Admittedly, the idea of what constitutes fair chase can be a regional and cultural perception: In Texas, hunts within the confines of high fences are business as usual.

We can argue the fine points — some of those fences stretch around hundreds, even thousands of acres.

Nevertheless, the animals are confined.

Likewise, in many states, animals frequently have their noses buried in bait piles or are foraging beneath motorized feeders when a hunter draws a bead on them.

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