The Managed Hunt | Writing | Food Newsie

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The Managed Hunt

The Managed Hunt

I was honored with the chance to volunteer during a USDA-Managed Deer Hunt on the Maryland side of DC. I learned a little bit about deer and also discovered that volunteering put me less in the firing line of protesters and more into the role of an extra on The Sopranos.

For hunters, a managed hunt is like a DIY Black Friday super blowout for whatever game is in season. It’s a chance to dash out, do what you do well, and fill your annual quota; in this case, with deer. Deer aren’t smart, but they’re smart enough to know where they can graze without getting shot. Reserves are such areas and when the time comes for a managed hunt, property owners can opt in, letting hunters use their private land for the allotted time.

Ed. This managed hunt, having taken place on PRIVATE LAND forces a great deal of ambiguity at the keyboard. With respect to readers and sources, USDA-Managed Hunts can be further researched online with the understanding that my personal observations might well be the same at any location.

The Managed Hunt

Lots where landowners participate in the Managed Hunt are further divided and marked for hunters. The "2 + 1" on the piece of paper direct this group to two locations allowed for tree stands.

The USDA-Managed Deer Hunts, as you can imagine, are not fully endorsed by all residents on or near the 850 acre tract. In addition to withholding their land from the hunters, some landowners walk wooded paths noisily, photograph hunters from fields and paths and broadcast the locations of tree stands making deer scarce and hunter’s efforts all in vain. I was warned that volunteers are next on the list of Protester Prey and while I was prepared for it, I wasn’t really prepared for it. I’m Mr. Maryland! An encounter with local disruptors is an encounter with neighbors and friends, people I’ve been to foodie events with, etc. One group working hard to disrupt hunts also manages the public lodge where hunters and volunteers are organized.

When I entered the Main Lodge at noon, it was easy to see that the ‘unwelcome’ mat had been rolled out for anyone taking part. The wood stove was inoperable, the chimney had been removed, cabinets were uninstalled and laid on the floor, and counter space was removed to be minimal. The Managed Hunt in any community could be seen as the unpleasant community service that keeps night time travelers and protected food gardens safer. (Deer populations soar with so much predator-free access to foraging.) Hunters probably don’t expect parades in their honor, but this lodge was sending the opposite message that clearly did not represent the sentiments of its community.

The list of volunteers was about twenty-five names of familiar faces from around the neighborhood. There was the guy who home schools the kids, the guy who writes newsletters, the lady involved in local politics and the lady who sells livestock even to the group rallying protesters. For a few days, people here dance between civility, politics and what they feel “responsibility” means. No one’s wrong and no one’s right – the whole argument is a slippery slope and for the volunteers, that’s literal…

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