Archive for category Opinion
A few days ago, after watching a Netflix documentary called, “Heal,” I felt inspired and hopeful about the healing power of positive thought and stress reduction. When I asked my son and wife to watch the same film, they had very different reactions.
My wife is a certified physician assistant, and my son just graduated with a physiology degree and is starting the medical school application process. While they have deep scientific backgrounds, I barely passed Biology 101. While they viewed the documentary with scientific skepticism, I emotionally embraced the theories set forth in it.
Though all three of us have quite a bit in common, our experiences caused us to see what we want to see, while shrugging off alternatives.
A few days later, I watched a local county attorney explain how he made a controversial decision not to charge a business owner who had a confrontation with rioters. Unfortunately, that confrontation ended in the death of one of the rioters, and the aftermath divided the city.
In the press conference, the attorney very carefully presented the evidence he used in making his decision, including surveillance video of the incident, which viewers were able to watch. I had hoped that there was video evidence that could tell a story that justified a decision, one way or the other, and that’s what I saw. I saw a business owner in a high emotional state defending himself from strangers who were attacking him with evil intent.
I watched the press conference on Facebook, which meant that I saw live comments from other viewers, and almost all of them didn’t share my opinion. Later, against my better judgment, I looked on social media to see what others thought, expecting most to agree with me. While a lot of people agreed with me, I also saw some very different interpretations, this time by people I know and respect. That’s when I thought of the different ways that my family and I viewed “Heal.”
I watched “Heal” on the recommendation of one of my friends from the gym. She’s a registered nurse, and we often talk about the benefits of exercise, limiting stress and staying positive. She said that the documentary reminded her of me and our conversations, so I sat down with the remote and the anticipation of seeing something that would reaffirm what I believed. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what I saw. When the scientific people in my family watched the same film, they picked it apart. Though I knew that their criticism was founded in science, I held true to my interpretation.
The same thing happened in that press conference. I watched the press conference from the perspective of a conservative business owner from the suburbs who is deeply angered by the violence and wanton destruction happening in the city in which I take great pride. With that perspective, I completely agreed with the county attorney’s decision not to press charges. Meanwhile, others watched from far different perspectives and preconceived notions, and they came to a much different conclusion.
I learned from both experiences that things aren’t always black and white – maybe I’m not always as right as I think I am and maybe those on the other side are not always as wrong as I think they are. It’s often hard to see and admit that, particularly when we are so emotionally attached to our beliefs, but maybe, if we could step back and respect everyone’s right to have their own opinions, things wouldn’t get so ugly so quickly, and we would all be happier.
Legitimate hunters, particularly Nebraska’s recent mountain lion hunters and the winner of a Safari Club auction, have been unjustly criticized and misunderstood. The Nebraska hunters were called killers by a senator from their own state, while the auction winner, who will hunt a black rhino in Namibia, has had death threats. Understanding the roles hunters play in conservation and the purpose of these hunts might ease this tension.
It appears that there are three main contentions with these hunts: 1. The animals that will be hunted are beautiful, and as such, shouldn’t be hunted; 2. There aren’t very many of them, so they shouldn’t be hunted; and 3. The hunting methods used aren’t sporting. As an experienced hunter, I would like to address these misperceptions.
I’ve had the good fortune to hunt successfully some of nature’s most beautiful creatures, starting with a Nebraska icon – the ringneck pheasant. There are few birds as colorful and statuesque as a male ringneck pheasant. Hunters are captivated by this beautiful bird and fascinated with its canny behavior, and they will travel from all around the country and spend thousands of dollars for the opportunity to hunt it. The same thing could be said for Nebraska’s two deer species: the whitetail and mule deer. These are beautiful and graceful animals, and they are challenging to hunt. We don’t hunt these animals because we want to eradicate them. We hunt them because we enjoy being around them, and we hope to give younger generations the same opportunity. If we thought that hunting them would hurt the species’ survival, we wouldn’t do it.
With every license we buy and much of the equipment we purchase, we contribute to government efforts to preserve wildlife and protect habitat. In addition, hunter-funded groups like Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation create sanctuaries for wildlife. Hunters are directly responsible for the resurgence of some species, like the wild turkey and whitetail deer.
Nebraska’s mountain lions have made a huge resurgence in the state. There is an established population in the northwest corner of our state, so that’s where the majority of the hunting is done, but they are all over the state, being captured in Omaha and spotted everywhere between. Not every mountain lion spotting makes the newspaper. Just this past year, a trail camera on land I hunt near Burwell captured the image of a mature male lion, not just a juvenile looking for a new territory. The Game and Parks has chosen to take a few out of the population to minimize conflict with humans, as well to ensure as survival of the species.
In the case of the black rhino, while it’s true that the species is endangered, that’s not due to hunters. Rhino poaching is an enormous problem in Africa, as demand in Asia drives desperate people to profit by killing these creatures and taking their horns. The $350,000 paid at the auction will be donated to the Namibian government to fight the poaching problem. In this way, one rhino will be sacrificed to save several others. Furthermore, the hunter isn’t able to take just any rhino. He must take one of the older males that wildlife managers have determined is past breeding age, and even more importantly, a threat to other rhinos in the area. The animal taken will be in his last days, and a bullet will be a much better way to die than sickness and starvation.
Lastly, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers and others have criticized hunting mountain lions with dogs and shooting them out of trees. Those who have experienced this will say that keeping up with dogs on a lion track is one of the most physically taxing hunts a person can experience. Shooting them out of a tree is the anti-climatic end to the excitement, and many hunters often pass on the animal they treed, if it isn’t mature or the wrong gender. In fact, there is no better way to determine a cat’s gender and maturity than observing it in a tree. This keeps hunters from accidentally shooting a female or immature male.
I am passionate about hunting, as are most of my fellow hunters. If something doesn’t seem right, please ask us before attacking us.