What Being a Hunter and Conservationist Really Means

Marius Dobilas / shutterstock.com
Marius Dobilas / shutterstock.com

If you listen to environmentalists with a more liberal leaning, it probably won’t take you long to understand that they think hunters and hunting are wrong, cruel, and completely unnecessary. And usually, you’d be hard-pressed to find me in agreement.

But this case shows a rather ugly truth.

It comes from the social media account of LaurenInTheWild, which shares much about farming, the outdoors, and wildlife in Montana.

As the writer begins this post, “This one is a bit hard on the heart, so trigger warning, I guess.”

The post continues with a video of a dying bull elk later explained to have been found on the ranch. The writer notes that this particular bull had been spotted numerous times by ranch hands. Usually, it was down by a creek “with a small group of ladies, and seemed content. He had a very slight limp but otherwise seemed like a normal young bull.”

That is until one day, a ranch hand found it in an emaciated state and unable to even get up.

Naturally, the ranch called Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to tend to the animal; it would probably need to be put down, considering its current state.

The fear was that it had contracted Chronic Wasting Disease, a deadly and very contagious disease spread among ungulates (deer, elk, moose, caribou). As LaurenInTheWild wrote, “It’s basically mad cow for wild deer species.”

After deciding to and then actually euthanize the animal, they set out trying to decipher exactly what happened to the elk.

After skinning it and examining nearly every part of his body, biologists found a mass in its thigh. Cutting into it revealed a massive injury.

“Where the femur should be, there is a big ball of marrow and bone shards encased in a hard calcified matric of scar tissue.” Then, “Out of the middle of this mess pops a green polymer tip and fragments of a 5.56 round.”

As the writer explained, this means “some dips***t with bad aim and an underpowered rifle” had hit the animal and left it with his entire femur blown apart, which eventually grew into a massive infection.

As I mentioned, I am usually a big fan of hunting, as ethical hunters have been successfully managing wildlife populations and habitats for hundreds of years.

But this is a case where someone with very little experience and no clear understanding of what certain ammunitions can do to an animal got a bit trigger-happy.

And this is exactly why most states have certain hunting rules. For instance, big game like elk (which can weigh as much as 900 pounds) are usually only allowed to be shot with a caliber of at least 6mm, making it more likely that a shot will not leave the animal suffering needlessly.

This 5.56 just wasn’t powerful, nor accurately placed, enough to do more than seriously injure this majestic creature.

The lesson here: hunting is great and can mean the difference between the life and death of an entire species. But it only works if hunters know what they are doing and are good stewards of the land, as the Bible instructed us to be.

So don’t just play at hunting. Learn the rules, the risks, and everything you can before going out there and putting a life in the crosshairs.