A Visceral Reaction, Granted

Hallelujah, today is the last day of rifle hunting for deer. Black powder-muzzle loader folks have another shot at ’em later on, but they don’t seem to be as discourteous, trigger-happy and disrespectful of the lands they pass through and hunt on as the rank-and-file rifle hunters. There are, of course, exceptions to both of these broad strokes.

But I’m not happy with how hunters have treated our road, long stretches of which are free of houses or eyes that would see them pulling deer guts and carcasses from their trucks and tossing them into the upper reaches of Goose Creek.

And I’m not talking off in the woods somewhere. I mean into the creek itself since it runs so close to the road at one convenient place in particular, where  there is not just the one large blue tarp-with-carcass but two (and another unwrapped nearby.)

Is it too much to ask, in your callous disregard for other people’s property that you not include a very non-biodegradable and eternally visible plastic wrap in your awful offal offings? The critters (dogs most likely) have pulled the one carcass free and a buzzard-picked rib cage greets passers-by.

The other remains a contained lump, too big to move even when frozen solid in another month, too contained for access by any but the smallest decomposers or scavengers.We will smell it come March.

Yesterday I stopped along this same road that we live on to pick up the remnant parts of a large plastic spotlight, battery here, silver reflector over there, yellow case in a side branch 20 feet from Goose Creek. I ask you, sirs, how hard would it have been to toss that in back of your truck and leave it in the greenbox a half mile up the road and right on the way back to your cave?

I’m sorry, you’ve jerked my chain. It’s bad enough that one of you has put up a deer stand clearly on our property and puts us all at risk (including YOU when we give some of those who ask permission to hunt here.) It would be a kind of poetic justice if you were shot out of a tree stand while hunting illegally on private property.

If this unfortunate thing happens, would you prefer a blue tarp for interment on the side of the road, or camo?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m sick of it, too. I have friends who hunt, who I know are true sportsmen who do thier best to be considerate of both nature and humans. But more and more I am convinced that they are the exception, after repeatedly running into hunters in places where they shouldn’t be, on days that they shouldn’t be hunting, leaving trash all over the place. I generally stay out of the National Forest altogether during hunting season, and it is always disgusting to go back once hunting season is over and have to pack out huge bags of trash, beer cans, malt liquor bottles, etc, from hunters’ camp sites. But even hiking on our own place isn’t safe from them, since they don’t seem to respect the posted signs. Urgh!

  2. So it’s not just me that’s insulted and disgusted and appalled by Neanderthals with the latest iteration of the club and the secret handshake?

    And the poor dog: we can’t dare let him off the leash for the two months from first of muzzleloader to the end of late muzzleloader. And those guts up the road: we’ve have to fetch him home more than once. It’s west of us and the winds announce spare ribs are being served.

    My gosh we need the services of two-legged predators so the four-wheeled ones won’t have so many to chose from late of a night. But I’m of the opinion that if a person doesn’t have the common courtesy to respect fences and to manage their own trash, they deserve to have their hunting licenses revoked. But of course, that kind of person would simply hunt on your land and mine without one.

  3. You should live in France.
    Not only is this the hunting season when anything that moves is considered ‘fair game’, but all year round farmers regularly leave the carcasses of dead pigs, cows, horses uncovered and by the roadside for weeks….

  4. I couldn’t agree with all of you more! Question: Does it help to post “No Hunting” signs on your land? We seem to have had some success with that on our land in Willis.
    Also, I’ve been surprised to read that hunters and farmers are encouraged to kill coyotes too. It would seem we NEED a four-legged predator for the deer. I just keep my small dogs inside at night!

  5. After having an unhappy experience with hunters on my property, I consulted with a friend who said, “If you want to give someone permission to hunt on your land, be sure you know them really, really, really well.” Good advice. I think posting your land and encouraging neighbors to do so also, helps.

  6. I’m sick of impolite hunters, I have no problem with courteous ones or eating venison. Dog owners be aware that dogs can be seriously, even fatally, sickened by deer guts at a certain stage of decomposition. I try to keep my dogs up all fall and winter since they relish deer guts.

  7. Your story really rings a bell.

    It is the same here in Pennsylvania. In most cases, posting the property will not work unless one also confronts the offenders, and if necessary has them charged with criminal trespass . This is not for the faint of heart, and can lead to nasty situations.

    Based on well over 20 years as a part time Wildlife Conservation Officer (now retired), I have formed the opinion that ethical hunters are in the minority, but maybe that is because that the unethical ones are just so noticeable and one’s attention is not drawn to those who conduct themselves in a circumspect manner.

  8. Firearms season ends Dec 13!

    Maybe you were following Roanoke and Montgomery where it did end the 29th.

    We finally have some cold wet weather and 2 more weeks to thin the herds; enjoy the season.

    Hopefully the nimrods will stay home.
    Be careful out there.

  9. Wow, I am glad to know I am not the only Floyd resident who has had a rough hunting season (and sadly, it is my first in Floyd).

    All of the signs that we put up on the property line have been torn down (or just in half), one of our fences has been knocked down by ATVs to access our pasture, and more than once I have found people on our property including a twosome of hunters who rode right up our driveway in their ATV (and made a fast exit when they saw us). There are stands all over the woods that surround our house, and they have trash around them, and they look terrible all year long. I am afraid to take my lab on hikes on the weekends as there is constant gunfire even into the late hours. My house has been hit TWICE with their bullets.

    I also find it ironic that a neighboring (huge) tract of land with a wonderful dirt road through it has now been leased by a hunt club, and they have blocked the road and posted more “No Trespassing” signs than I have ever seen in one place. I am not saying they are the perpetrators of the aforementioned bad behavior (and I am actually glad they are leasing the property as it may be what keeps it from being logged or developed for a bit longer), but it does make me think…

    For property owners; know the rules the hunters are supposed to follow, know your rights, and report violators. You can get a manual of rules and regulations for Virginia hunters and other important here: