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Re: [at-l] Hunting on the Trail

Damn, you guys are tough -

OK - I'm not angry, I'm not into starting flame wars and I'm not
gonna deny anyone their feelings or viewpoint or opinion, but I
think there are a few things you all might be overlooking.   This
will be my viewpoint - and you can agree with it or not.  If you
don't agree with it - cool - that's ALWAYS your right. But can you
honestly answer the questions that I'm gonna ask?  Without flames?

The first point is that it seems to be "common knowledge" that hunting
is illegal on the Trail.  But I've been through this mess several times
and have yet to find anyone who can support that contention - except
for the National Parks.  If you want to support that view, then quote
the specific laws or regulations that make it so.  Otherwise you're
just  blowin' smoke.   One of the lessons learned in 50+ years is
that  "common knowledge" is generally wrong.

Second - As Keith pointed out, a lot of people depend on hunting
to provide food for their families.  How many of you are gonna
advocate letting their kids go hungry so you can feel safer while
you hike?  If you want to be safe, stay home during hunting
season.  I know - someone is gonna say that "hungry kids" is
an overdramatization.   So I'm gonna invite you to spend some
time in Pennsylvania - or Georgia or Tennessee or Virginia or
.........  (pick your state).  You can meet some of those people.

Third - I don't have any facts on this, but I'd like someone to tell
me - when was the last time a hiker was shot by a hunter - on
the AT or on any other trail?   And just how often does it happen?
As someone pointed out, the hunting "accidents" are a lot more
likely to happen to hunters than to others.  Three points here -
1/ I don't believe in "accidents".  An accident is something that
happens because someone is doing something they shouldn't be
doing - and it's usually something stupid.   2/ there are stupid
hunters, just as there are stupid drivers and stupid engineers
and stupid doctors and stupid hikers.   But that doesn't mean that
hunters, as a class, should be should be condemned for the actions
of an extremely small minority.  If that were a legitimate reaction,
then hikers should be banned from the Whites because so many
of them die there every year.  How many was it last year?   8 ?
And 3/  I don't tolerate ANYONE pointing a gun at me - and you
shouldn't either.  It's stupidity on their part to do it - and it
would be stupidity on your part to tolerate it.   It's one of the
few things that'll make me *really* belligerent.   Contrary to
popular opinion, I think it's less stupid to get belligerent with a
gun-toting hunter than to allow him to shoot me by "accident"
because of his stupidity.   Rule number one in gun safety is that
ALL guns are ALWAYS loaded.  A lot of people have died because
someone believed their gun was "unloaded" - but didn't check it.

Fourth - I said yesterday that I don't allow fear to control my life.
How many of the negative reactions to hunters come from fear
of guns?   Some of you might need to think about this - a gun
is nothing more than a tool.  It can be used for good (police carry
them) or evil (criminals?) or to provide meat for your family
(hunters) or for pleasure (target shooting) or for competition -
or a number of other purposes.  But whatever the purpose - it's
just a tool - no more good or evil than a tennis racquet, an axe,
a wrench - or a hiking stick.  One of the things I've found over
the years is that, to a large degree, fear equates to ignorance.
Now tell me - why should others suffer for your ignorance?  Why
would anyone think that their fear and ignorance should control the
lives of others?  There's an answer for that - but it's my question
so someone else will have to supply their answer.

OK - as long as I'm gonna irritate people, you might as well have
this one, too - ignorance isn't a crime - we're all ignorant about
some part of the world we live in.  But willful and knowing ignorance,
coupled with a refusal to cure that ignorance and a willingness to
use it to the detriment of others, is, IMHO - unacceptable behavior.

Fifth -  the hunters ( more so than the hikers) have paid for a
lot of what's now the AT.  Now some people want to tell the
 hunters that they don't belong there?  I'm gonna leave that one
hang, cause my answer could get a little too close to the fire.

And last, but certainly not least, is the fact the hunters were
there long before the AT or the hikers.  So let's talk about
precedents.  Anyone who's willing to deny hunters the use of
hunting areas that they and their families have, in some cases,
used for the last 200+ years because their particular interest is
more legitimate/moral/important/whatever than the hunters
interest, is setting a precedent.   The problem with precedents
is that once they're established, they can be used against you
as easily as anyone else.  If a user-group (hikers?) prevails in
banning hunters from the AT and the surrounding areas (they
go together) - then why would they think that the next user-group
that comes along (extreme racers, TV ad makers, mountain bikers,
homeless communities, superhighways - or even condos along the
AT corridor) and claims that their cause/purpose/interest is
more legitimate/moral/important/socially-acceptable/socially-
necessary/whatever won't prevail?   We already have the
problem of precedents - remember how the Shenandoah National
Park was acquired?   If you don't, then you should find out.  I don't
consider it to be a moral or legitimate act for the government
to forcibly remove 400 families in order to construct
what was essentially a "playground" for the Washington
elite.  How many of you want to reinforce that precedent?

Am I being an alarmist?  Damn right.  I'm a systems engineer -
I don't tend to look at just one facet of *anything*.  And by
both training and hard experience, I've learned that if you
don't prepare for the worst case, it'll ALWAYS come back to
bite you - usually at the worst possible time.   Some people
call this Murphy's Law, but I'm a believer in O'Toole's Law,
which states that Murphy was an optimist.

If I'm wrong - convince me.  But you can't do that with flames.
In order to convince me, you'll need facts.  And you'd best
check your source for those facts very carefully, cause I've
been at this game a lot longer than I care to admit.  I know a lot
about which organizations play fast and loose with the truth to
enhance their own case.   I've been bitten  by some of them.

Someone suggested that we may all have a case of "Mall fever".
I think they may be right.   Maybe we all need a weekend on a
trail someplace - but pick a non-hunting trail.

Walk softly - but loudly and with a great show of orange,

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