OF PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS - Game Wardens Will Have Their Hands Full


By Tony Russell

Finally! It's about time the armed forces began to use the skills of those of us who live in the nation's hinterlands. The Marine Corps, in particular, deserves credit for its new willingness to "think outside the box."

An article in the Marine Corps Times says that Col. Clarke Lethin, chief of staff of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, believes that "if we create a mentality in our Marines that they are hunters and they take on some of those skills, then we'll be able to increase our combat effectiveness." More specifically, "The Corps hopes to tap into skills certain Marines may already have learned growing up in rural hunting areas and in urban areas, such as inner cities."

The military is definitely on to something. It's easy to see how skills used in our hunting sports could be transferred to the pursuit of the most dangerous yet abundant of wild game—human beings.

Removing humans from the list of protected species solves one of the most frustrating of all problems currently plaguing the hunter: what to do with himself out of hunting season. Spring gobbler season is behind us, and deer season hasn't opened yet. Once doe hunters are out of the woods, the only hunting we can get in is on varmints. Myself, I like to cut the dogs loose on coons for the rest of the fall and early winter. But let's face it, winter and summer are both, so to speak, dead times as far as hunting is concerned.

A lot of my buddies have proudly lined the walls of their dens with mounted deer heads displaying eight-, ten-, even twelve-point antlers. They've covered the floor with black bearhide throw rugs, and placed stuffed bobcats here and there like Roman statuary. Is it any wonder they're fired up about the prospect of adding a new big game species where their quarry is in endless season?

"Just think about it," said Willis Helmick to me at the barber shop. "There's no reason you couldn't hunt people all year round. They breed year round, so you wouldn't have a mating season to worry about. There's not enough mast in the woods or corn in the fields to keep them healthy. The streets are filled with mangy, sorry-looking specimens. Winter will take a huge toll. They're overpopulated and need to be hunted hard. It's an act of kindness to thin the herd."

"I can see where that'd be the humane thing to do," I agreed. "The best way to bring the herd down to a number the habitat can sustain would be to cull a lot of the males, I expect. A male in his prime could probably handle—oh, let's say from ten to fifteen females. So the state should adopt a males-only policy until we've got it down to about 10-to-1."

"Hawh!" snorted Willis. "In your dreams, good buddy. You couldn't have bred ten females when you were half the age you are now. And it's obvious you don't know anything about scientific herd management. Open season is the ticket. Males and females both. It's a proven fact. Gives you the healthiest, most stable herd."

"That sounds great in theory, Willis, but you know sportsmen are going to want the big trophy males!" I argued.

"That's where I think you're wrong," said Willis. "Your human is a different kind of trophy. I'm betting there's gonna be a lot of interest in bagging and mounting young females. Can't you picture the head of some lovely young thing, mounted on a plaque over your fireplace, her long blonde hair hanging down? Or a matched set: a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde?"

We both paused for a minute to gaze at our mental images. "You may have something there," I admitted. "I've heard of trophy wives, but this is a whole new wrinkle."

"Sure," he said. "And just think of all the spin-offs that will boost the economy. Not just taxidermists, but mom-and-pop operations that can sell human stamps and tags to add to your hunting license. Then they can serve as check-in stations once you've bagged, gutted, and tagged your kill."

"Plus they'll have an expanded year-round market for cases of beer, cans of chili, and vienna sausages," I threw in.

Willis was on a roll. "It works out great for the military too," he pointed out. "Instead of having to train and pay troops, they can rent out tents and camping spots. Trips overseas can be marketed like a hunting camp or safari. Instead of all the trouble the military is having right now recruiting soldiers, they'll have to limit the number of licenses they issue. Sportsmen will supply their own weapons and ammo, plus foot the bill for the travel. I'm telling you, we can turn this whole thing in Iraq and Afghanistan around, financially and militarily."

"Aren't you afraid there will be hunters illegally gunning down humans in game preserves like the United States?" I worried. "A lot of guys are going to ask themselves why they should pay big bucks to hunt in the Middle East when there's plenty of game next door."

"You're always going to have your poachers and spotlighters and game hogs," he conceded. "Outlaws who cut loose on anybody they get in their sights and then leave the carcasses to rot. They don't care about the meat or the trophy; they just like to shoot things. Game wardens will have their hands full."

© Tony Russell, 2007

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