As the snow continues to deepen, the rigors of the northern winter become harder for the wild things of our part of the country. Deer traffic has been reduced to simple trail-traffic for weeks now with the aimless wandering that whitetails are so famous for no longer an option for the snow-bound deer. December in Minnesota witnessed the greatest snowfall since weather recording began, I am told and sadly it is taking its toll on the creatures of the wild.
I have been feeding corn throughout the fall, hoping to supplement the animal’s diets and better prepare them for the winter. The golden grain has been consumed not only by the deer, but squirrels, rabbits and song birds all dine together at the pile consuming as much as they can. This type of feeding benefits all wild things in spite of the fact that it is frowned upon by some.
This past week, I contacted a member of our church, a farmer, and had him deliver two square bales of rich clover hay to my back yard. I placed it in the back of our pickup, cutting the strings on the first bale and removing the first two slices of the dark green, leafy forage. I placed them on either side of the mineral lick that has been a permanent fixture in our backyard for the past two decades. The hay remained untouched for several days as the deer-traffic, diminished by inclement weather, has been light if any at all. Then we had nighttime visitors and the first two thick slices of clover-pie disappeared into thin air, or perhaps into thin deer; nevertheless it was gone.
Even though we live within the city limits of Glenwood, the deer traffic through our yard is constant and heavy in volume, year-round. For the past ten years the winters have been mild and there has been no real need to supplement the diets of our local herd, although I have offered hay at our backyard salad bar, regardless. The need this winter is critical due to the harshness of the cold temperatures and deep snow.
The hunter is portrayed as the villain by the Animal Rights Fanatics (ARF), yet when a hard winter like our present one occurs, who is it that comes to the rescue of the hungry wild things? It certainly isn’t the ARF’s. They believe in letting nature take its course and allowing starvation to naturally thin the herds. Instead, it is the villains, the hunters that come to the rescue of the wild things that they believe they have been entrusted to care for and manage. It is the game harvesters that reaches into their pockets and pay for the forage to save the herd and then go to the trouble to get those foodstuffs to the needy creatures that suffer from the rigors of nature.
How interesting that those who claim to love the animals do nothing to assist when assistance is needed. And the ones that are demonized for managing the herds by regulated thinning to an acceptable carrying capacity are the first and only ones to answer the call to save the herd. The rich coffers of the ARF’s are held in reserve to save the hapless animals from the only true friends they have, the hunter. Oh, what cruel irony, with one breath to claim love for the wild things and in the next say, “Let them die.”
For those of you in areas where winter is taking its heaviest toll, I hope that you will do all that you can to relieve some of the stress being experienced by the creatures that are being most victimized by this harsh winter. It is our responsibility as hunters and every animal we save is a critical building block to the future of our sport. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.