Deer hunting at night?

November 29, 2012

Faith Outdoors

I read a shocking article in the StarTribune yesterday, in which outdoors writer Doug Smith described the attempt by Chippewa tribes in Wisconsin to allow night hunting for whitetail deer.

My first thought was “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Then, as I continued to reflect on this disturbing action by the tribes, I recalled that this is exactly the kind of thing I have feared all along in the ongoing treaty rights debate.

I wondered if the victories won by the tribes would lead to more actions like this. It’s understandable that, after winning a major victory, they might try to win more rights.

But, where do you draw the line? That’s the question I keep asking. I understand that we have to honor whatever rights the treaties have granted. But, I think it can be very hard to understand just what rights the bands are entitled to. And, with so many more people using the resources now than when the treaties were signed 150 years ago, the implications are more dramatic.

For me, a big issue is the whole concept of “sovereign nation” status that the tribes have. I would like to see that come to an end and have everyone in the country governed by one set of laws. I don’t necessarily mean just take over the bands and forces our laws upon them. But rather, enter into intense and determined negotiations to settle the matter once and for all.

If we don’t, things like the night-hunting proposal will keep popping up. And, I don’t believe things like this do one bit of good in helping build relations between Indians and non-Indians. Building bridges between the two cultures is desperately needed and long overdue. I don’t think it is a good long-term solution to continue to have sovereign nation status. If the bands continue to get more rights, there is going to be a pushback. Imagine deer hunters setting up camp on the eve of the firearms opener, then hearing shots in the dark and seeing flashlights shining in the woods.

Thankfully, a judge in Wisconsin temporarily blocked the band’s plan to night hunt for deer. But, the issue is far from over. There still must be a final ruling in the case, which sets up the possibility of night hunting in Wisconsin for deer.

I, for one, hope this never happens. Deer hunters – and the deer themselves – deserve better.

 

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek
  • Father Mike Tegeder

    As the pastor of Gichitwaa Kateri Church in Minneapolis and Director of the Office of Indian Ministry for the Archdiocese I am rather amazed to see this posted. You realize that the state of Wisconsin allows wolf hunting at night with lights. The wolf has a special place in Indian tradition and the fact that the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin immediately have opened hunting seasons on this recently protected animal is most upsetting. Even in Minnesota without night hunting the broadcasting of wounded animal sounds and traps are permitted in killing wolves.

    There is nothing to negotiate. Treaty rights already exist. They go back almost 200 years. What is disturbing is the continued attempt to act as if those treaty rights do not exist. Indian people do not hunt to put a wolf skin on the wall of their dens, they subsistence hunt deer to put food on the table of their families and elders.