Public attitudes toward hunting have changed a lot since the frontier days. A hundred fifty years ago, people had to hunt to feed their families. Today, most hunters do it for sport and give the meat away, and that's precisely why some people are against it. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says hunting is cruel and unnecessary, because almost no one needs it for subsistence. Spokeswoman Nicole Matthews says hunting breeds insensitivity to the suffering of others, disturbs animal populations and damages eco-systems.
"In lieu of cruel consumptive wildlife activities like hunting, trapping and fishing, we promote environmentally sound non-consumptive alternatives, such as wildlife photography, bird watching, hiking, kayaking, or camping and canoeing."
Whatever your view, thousands of hunters have their rifles oiled and ready, camou clothes and outdoor gear laid out, and their pickups and SUVs gassed up and ready to get them to the deer lease before sun-up Saturday. Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesman Tom Harvey says the deer population is up statewide, and hunters should have no trouble taking their bag limit.Î¾ Harvey says it's ironic, and counter-intuitive, but controlled hunting has proven to be the best way to maintain wildlife populations and habitats.
"If you have a group of hunters who are willing to pay money to support the management and restoration of an animal, then that provides a financial incentive and an audience, or constituency, of vocal supporters that can help get things done to make sure that there's gonna be plenty of that animal in the future."
There's more information on deer season, and results of surveys of public attitudes toward hunting onÎ¾ the Texas Parks and Wildlife Web site.
Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.