Editor’s note: this letter was originally published on author Adrienne Ivey’s “View from the Ranch Porch” blog.
Dear Deer Hunter,
This year during white tail deer hunting season here in Saskatchewan, I encourage you to re-think some of your past ways. As the owner-operator of a large cattle ranch, I want you to realize that your actions do have direct consequences for us. Every year we dread the upcoming hunting season, and it is really unfortunate because it doesn’t have to be that way.
Every year we have fences run over, gates left open, fences deliberately cut, cattle on the loose, and cattle riled up because of bullets whizzing around them. Again, it doesn’t have to be this way.
We are in no way against hunting. We understand, perhaps better than anyone, the importance of population control of our wildlife. We have hundreds and hundreds of deer eating at our feed yard over the winter. Trust me, we would much rather those deer be in your deep freeze. Although not hunters ourselves, we understand the sportsmanship of the hunt, but unfortunately a large number of your group is ruining it for all of you.
Sitting on my front porch drinking coffee means hearing shots fired much too close for comfort. I don’t dare let my kids play in the pasture and I honestly fear for the safety of my husband and hired men as they are out fixing the fence that another hunter drove through the day before. This is no war-torn country, but we need to wear hunters’ orange on our own land.
I understand that the laws in Saskatchewan protect your right to enter my land to shoot at will, but when does human common courtesy come in? Do you need to post a sign on your lawn asking me not to spin donuts on it? Or a sign asking “please don’t chop a hole through my front door so my dog runs away”? We spend countless hours every year rounding up loose cattle solely because it was easier for you to drive through my fence than get out of your truck and WALK to shoot that deer. Did you know that when you leave a gate open, it means there is no electricity on the rest of that fence for miles and miles?
The thing is this, it is so easily rectified. There is such a simple solution. Ask. Ask before you enter my land. Ask where it’s okay to hunt or not. Ask, and I will even tell you where I saw the biggest buck, or where the deer herd has been hanging out. Don’t know who to ask? There is a simple solution for that too!! For a very low price, every RM has maps that show you who owns each piece of land. Easy! If all else fails, stop in at a yard. Most of us can tell you who owns which land, and how to get ahold of them. For all the time and money you put into hunting, surely this is not too much to ask. For those that already do this, thank you! It is both noticed and appreciated.
I know that our acres and acres of grassland looks like empty “nature” to you urbanites, but in reality, my husband may be just behind that bush fixing fence or treating a sick calf. My livelihood may be just behind that bluff of trees. Do you use your paycheque as target practice? Or your pet dog?
So many ranchers grumble and moan about how much they hate hunters, and the saddest part is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I won’t go into your house without asking. Offer me the same courtesy.
Adrienne Ivey, Rancher near Ituna, Saskatchewan