Every season has its rites and we have now entered into the fall rite of hunting season. There is an uneasy tension, and some underlying feelings, between land owners and hunters that neither side wants to say much about.
With 110 acres of CRP, we get requests from hunters each year to hunt for pheasants, mainly, and sometimes, deer and geese.
I am not a hunter and have no problems with those who do hunt. Having spent many years caring for livestock, I do sympathize with the wildlife more than I do the hunter.
I was listening to a noon farm show on the radio several years ago when they had land owners and hunters call in about the hunting season. I was amazed at the intensity of feelings on each side on who had control of hunting access.
Within a few minutes a very heated agreement was going about access to hunting property. Land owners were very concerned about people who hunt with the attitude that CRP is the next thing to public hunting ground and hunters who were saying that it is my tax money that pays for CRP and gives me a reason to hunt there.
At our farm we keep hunters to family, close friends and members of the volunteer fire department.
I am surprised at the distance some people will drive to hunt. The metropolitan area of the Twin Cities is two hours away and hunters from that area are common around here.
In general, I have found that hunters are a courteous lot with the occasional stinker who hopes to sneak a hunting trip without asking permission. During harvest season we discourage hunters and if we give permission, will send them to fields where we are not working.
My favorite encounter with a hunter was over five years ago when I was finishing harvest on my last field of corn. My neighbors were done and I had the last remaining cover for the pheasants and they were all over. I was enjoying the view of all the wildlife from the combine cab.
I was backing a tractor to a wagon when a shiny blue pickup pulled along side and a man with a big smile with blaze orange accessories got out. “Oh, great,” I thought, “this guy wants to hunt.”
The man walked over to the wagon and lifted the drawbar, holding it in place while I backed up. I thought, “Boy, does this guy want to be my friend.”
Once the wagon was hitched, I climbed down to the ground and my new best friend was standing there still smiling. He asked to hunt.
I was feeling very reluctant and saw the Minnesota license plate on his truck. I asked where he was from and he gave the name of a town 90 miles away. He had already driven a distance.
I saw his dog in the cab and asked if he was by himself. He said he was. I can be sympathetic to one hunter and a dog over a small army of hunters who want to make a sweep across a field. Remember, my feelings are more toward the wildlife than the hunter.
Considering he was one hunter who had driven 90 miles, I sent him to a far corner of the field where I said he should have good results in the switch grass CRP. A dog is a necessity to hunt there and it will be a good workout for both of them.
He offered me any of the pheasants he might shoot and I told him I prefer steaks over any game. He drove off and I finished harvesting the field.
A couple months later, a familiar shiny blue pickup pulls into my driveway. Sure enough, it is the same hunter. He knocks on my door and we exchange greetings.
He hands me a package saying since I did not want any pheasant, would I like some walleye he caught on a popular lake north of the Twin Cities? I told him beef and pork are my favorites, but my wife is a great cook and she will know what to do with walleye. I thanked him and we parted company.
It was a good quantity of walleye so a few weeks later, we bought a deep fat fryer and invited our children to a fish fry. It was delicious.
Of course, that hunter moved way up on the list of people welcome to hunt. He came back the next fall and I told him how much we enjoyed the walleye. He returned for the next couple years and we had walleye once again.
I have not seen him for a while and I only have his first name so I cannot contact him to learn how he is. I do know hunting season is here and I sure would like some walleye.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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