It is hard to believe that two of the most dangerous animals in the United States can appear to be so innocent.
Before the beginnings of basic civilization, the human race survived primarily on their gathering, foraging, scavenging and hunting skills. It was part of an evolutionary tract that occurred simultaneously around the world.
Hunting as a means of gathering food is truly an ancient activity. This age old, pursuit has essentially been conducted on a regular basis around the globe for tens of thousands of years.
Although hunting methods have been refined over the years, with the use of new tools for the hunt and the establishment of game laws and conservation efforts, the purpose is still the same. Hunting in 2011, remains as it was in 201, the only difference are the tools of the take.
There is illustrated evidence of early hunts painted on cave walls all across Europe and Asia. High on the soaring, stone cliffs of Canyon de Chelly in northern Arizona, there remain numerous ‘Indian billboards’ which feature pictographs of the deer, antelope, turkey and ducks that were once plentiful in the region.
Passing travelers read these signs, and understand the message. Over the course of time, various nomadic Native peoples began to settle in other similarly fertile, game rich environments.
In the Southwest, it appears early man hunted primarily in groups, using first, spears and eventually bows and arrows, to harvest wild animals.
As agricultural societies began to establish a presence in North America, bows revolutionized the efficiency of these ‘hunter-gatherers.’ The animals provided the people with food, clothing, shelter and tools.
Eventually, their hunting strategies were refined to utilize such techniques as herding animals into a box canyon, stampeding them over a cliff, or driving them from safe shelter by employing the use of fire.
The earliest known archaeological evidence establishing the use of bow and arrow comes from Western Europe, where some Mousterian sites are dated to approximately 40,000 years ago.
The earliest evidence for the use of the bow and arrow in North America comes from the Arctic regions, where a number of local Alaskan complexes grouped into the Paleoarctic Tradition from 9000 to 6000 B.C.
More recent research indicates evidence of bow and arrow technology dating back to 12,000, and possibly even 13,000 years ago in the Americas.
From the very first eras of pre-civilization, there is evidence that women maintained the role of caring for the home, raising children and preparing the food brought in by the men.
Men were the hunters, but women largely ran the show. They decided where and when to make camp, and they were integral in fostering the group’s survival. Indeed, women were responsible for the development of the first established societies in North America.
Eventually, as European civilization advanced with the domestication of animals and the development of agricultural methods, hunting was no longer required for society’s subsistence. As a result, hunting evolved into an activity conducted primarily for entertainment, rather than survival. Hunting was pursued almost exclusively by men, seeking “game.”
The pursuit of game animals was eventually considered a luxury. It became a leisure activity conducted primarily on the large private estates of the European upper class.
By the 1830’s, the British Parliament established the Game Act of 1831 in order to protect game birds by establishing a closed season when they could not be legally taken.
The act also established the need for providing game licenses and the appointment of gamekeepers. The Game Act still covers the protection of British hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, or moor game and black game.
The Game Licenses Act 1860 extended the definition to include woodcock, snipe, rabbit and deer.
By the 1700’s, members of the British High Society no longer needed to harvest wild game to insure their survival. However, such was not the case in ‘The Colonies,’ where many American pioneers were employed as subsistence hunters.
Eventually, their descendants formed the core of America’s hunting fraternity, and helped to develop the North American model of wildlife management.
A key element in the development of sport hunting and fishing in North American was an 1842 US Supreme Court ruling which set the foundation in U.S. common law for the principle that wildlife resources are owned by no one, rather they are to be held in trust by government for the benefit of present and future generations.
Hunting and angling remain the cornerstones of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. These activities continue to be the primary source of funding for conservation efforts in North America. Through a built-in excise tax on all hunting, angling and shooting sports equipment, and the sale of sporting licenses, hunters and anglers have generated more than $10 billion toward wildlife conservation since 1937.
Although conservation efforts have traditionally focused on game species, non-hunted species reap the rewards as well. The vast wetlands that have been protected for ducks, the forests saved for deer and the grasslands for pheasants have helped to save countless non-game species from peril.
Hunters and anglers have invested billions in wildlife and its future. They understand conservation and the vital role sportsmen play.
Often, sportsmen get a bad rap due to the actions of a tiny minority of unethical or irresponsible hunters. Many of the bird species that were once endangered by market hunters, were eventually saved by sportsman’s dollars.
Birders can hunt their prey ‘with opera glasses’ today, because sportsmen understand and appreciate the intrinsic value of all species, not just the “game.”
The Most Dangerous Animal in North America
The months of October and November are peak times for deer-car collisions. Currently, there are over one million collisions between deer and automobiles in the United States.
The average cost of damage caused by these deer encounters went up by over 2 percent last year, to $3,171 per occasion.
Annually, about 150 deer/car collisions result in fatalities to the driver or passengers. Additionally, over 10,000 people are seriously injured in these accidents and over one billion dollars in damage occurs.
Not only are whitetail deer the most hunted animal in North America, they are also the most dangerous and deadliest species of wildlife in the country. Encounters with whitetails result in more fatalities annually, than all of the run-ins with snakes, wolves, bears, scorpion, American Bison, alligators, coyotes, spiders, sharks and mountain lions, combined! Bambi is only cute, until she bounces off the front fender.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org