I Shot Bambi With a 12-Gauge

Imagine a white-tailed deer, like Bambi, for instance, weakly meandering through the forest, dying from starvation. Now imagine the thrill you'd feel after smashing into Bambi after driving your car down the highway at 60 miles per hour. Or better yet, imagine blasting Bambi into kingdom come with a hunting rifle.

Each of these situations occurs every year in Pennsylvania. Today I am going to talk about the deer overpopulation problem in this state, some reasons why some people think deer hunting should be banned, and why it most definitely shouldn't.

Towards the end of 1993, before deer hunting season began, the Pennsylvania Game Commission estimated the size of the herd at nearly one million. That equals out to roughly 25 deer per square mile, while the ideal number per square mile should be around 21, according to Robert Boyd, assistant director of the state Bureau of Wildlife Management. This overpopulation of deer has been causing extensive damage to our forests. Susan Stout, who led a study on the problem, said that, "You need hundreds of thousands of (trees) to restock the forest, and they're just not here." Also, wildlife biologist Dave deCalesta notes that, "It's a ripple effect. The more deer, the less vegetation. The less vegetation, the fewer birds." Also, again according to the Game Commission, in 1992, 42,539 deer were struck by cars and trucks, driving up insurance costs.

Now that I have talked about the overpopulation problem of deer, I will next examine reasons why some people think deer hunting, or hunting in general, should be banned. One reason stems from the Disney movie "Bambi." People who watched the film, particularly females, formed an emotional attachment to a cartoon animal, which has carried over into the real thing. "Bambi" was a fantasy. Real deer do not engage in chitchat and speak to skunks and bunnies. This movie portrays hunters as evil men who are intent on destroying nature. In fact, hunters help to keep the population down and prevent the mass starvation of these animals. Steve Jones, associate professor of forest resources at Penn State, has stated that, "Natural predators have been eliminated so that now the deer's only enemies are hunters and autos and they're not doing the job." Another reason deer hunting has been opposed is based on moral and philosophical grounds. A few people decry humankind's eating meat to survive or hunting for sport. They say that it is immoral and wrong to cause another creature pain, no matter how far down on the evolutionary ladder it may be from us. To them I say, thank you for your opinion, but who do you think you are to try to impose your sense of morality on the rest of us? Human beings have eaten meat to survive throughout the centuries, and most people don't see much reason to change that now. In addition, a new program instituted last year has turned into a rousing success. This program allows hunters to donate any or all of the meat from a harvested deer to food pantries and other agencies that distribute food to the poor and homeless. What could be more right than that?

Now that I have examined the key oppositions to hunting, I will now show why we should continue to allow it. I have already mentioned a few reasons. Hunting deer keeps the population down and prevents mass starvation of these animals. Also, meat from deer is usually eaten by the hunter or by whomever he or she donates the meat to. Another reason is the comradery of being out in nature with fellow hunters. I personally look forward very much to hunting season every year. My father started taking me to camp when I was 10, and this will be my third year of actually hunting. I enjoy being out in nature watching the wildlife. I look forward to the possibility that I may bag a buck, but if I don't, there's always next year. In addition, for many thousands of years, human beings have and continue to hunt wild animals as a source of food. Until celery and brussels sprouts can be made to taste like hamburger, I believe we should continue to hunt and eat food, just as do many other animals in the wild. Finally, hunting is a privilege, just like driving a car is a privilege. If hunting was abolished someday, who's to say that cars wouldn't be next? After all, they are dangerous, and kill and injure many thousands of people a year.

To sum up, Pennsylvania has been experiencing an overpopulation of deer, while at the same time there are people trying to ban hunting based on emotions or "morals." If we really want to help Bambi, we should limit the numbers of his species, ensuring food for all. Thank you.