Back in October, what seems like an eternity ago, I wrote a piece about deer hunting with dogs. While I do not currently partake in the hunting of deer with dogs, I do not condemn it. I continue to agree that the use of dogs should remain a legal way to hunt deer during certain parts of the season. Whether you have heard, or not, the use of dogs to hunt deer has once again become a hot button topic in the state of Mississippi.
The New Year always brings new bills to our state’s legislature. Some die in committees and some move on to be voted on. For the last two years, a couple of politicians in the state have been trying to kill the right to hunt with dogs. Why? Are there some dog owners that do a poor job representing the sport? Of course there are, but there are some doctors that do a poor job representing medicine, as well. Are there some landowners that get upset with dog hunters? Absolutely. Does that mean we should abolish an entire way of life? Absolutely not.
Since few other media outlets in the state dare expose those trying to take away the rights of a group of people that practice the longstanding tradition of hunting with dogs, let’s do it here. First up is Senator Angela Turner-Ford (D). Senator Turner-Ford represents District 16 which includes Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha counties. She’s an attorney with educational experience from five different outstanding universities. One problem…according to the information that this author could find, I see nothing regarding wildlife, aside from a Biology degree from Hampton University, which doesn’t exactly scream “outdoors guru”. She’s sponsored other bills recently including: the legalization of marijuana, online voting, the expansion of Medicaid, and student loan forgiveness. Why Sen. Turner-Ford is targeting hunters that use dogs is beyond me. Why she feels qualified to do so also alludes my thinking?
Second on the list, is Representative Gregory Holloway, Sr. (D). Rep. Holloway represents District 76 which includes parts of Claiborne, Copiah, and Hinds counties. Rep. Holloway is a former director of the Hazlehurst Parks and Recreation and holds degrees from Alcorn State University and Jackson State University. Once again, according to the information at hand, the sponsor of HB 177 has zero wildlife experience. He has done some important work during his tenure, though, by sponsoring a bill to ensure the color “blue” is the state’s official color. He’s also twice proposed the ban on hunting with dogs in Mississippi.
Now that we know the sponsors of the bills to kill a Mississippi tradition, let’s not be so naïve to think they are the only two that would like to remove the ability to hunt with dogs. There are plenty who would jump on board with this bill, including some that I consider close friends and hunting partners. We covered this topic in the most recent Pinstripes to Camo Podcast, and though none of us hunted with the use of dogs, all of us agreed that banning the sport was a bad idea. I also find it interesting that the sponsors of the bills in question do not represent areas that are heavily hunted with the use of dogs.
Mississippi isn’t the only state dealing with a war on different types of hunting. Lawmakers in Colorado’s state Senate recently introduced a bill to ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats. This is, once again, a gross overreach of politicians trying to interject themselves into a place they don’t belong. There is a mountain lion and bobcat season in Colorado for a reason. The damage done to livestock alone is reason enough to give hunters the opportunity to hunt these big cats. One would have to think the bill was introduced due to the “cuteness” of these cats. And I’m sure they are cute…until they are eating your cows, or worse, your kids.
Activists in California are currently trying to put the kibosh on black bear hunting. This comes even though the bear population in California has more than tripled in the last decade. Once again, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What is the reason for this, aside from it being a cuddly looking animal?” Bear hunting in America has been around longer than Nancy Pelosi, and for good reason. Hunters are the greatest conservationists on the planet, even though politicians think they are. Washington already lost its spring bear season due to political overreach and the cries from those in big cities that would rather save a bear than an unborn human.
Mississippi is my home. I love our state, our traditions, and our people. When I see politicians that want to take away those traditions based on the gripes of a few, it bothers me. There has to be a compromise of sorts with dog hunters rather than a ban. Dog hunters aren’t perfect, but I’d argue that they are much better now than they were thirty years ago. If we allow hunting with dogs to be banned, what’s next? Let’s not allow Mississippi to become a Washington, or a California. I’ve been to both of those states…Mississippi is far better.
I agree with the politicians on this one. At the very least the permit part should be implemented. Bottom line is that the majority of dog hunters don’t have the acreage you keep them off neighboring property. Permits could require a legitimate acreage minimum. I mean I can’t walk onto my neighbor’s property and climb a tree next to him and start hollering to scare deer off when they come in range…but his dog can come onto mine and do exactly that with no repercussions. It’s not 1960 anymore. Dogs aren’t needed to find deer. They’re everywhere. Some traditions get phased out.
*acreage needed to keep them off neighboring property.