Welcome to the host site for outdoor writer Steve Sorensen’s “Everyday Hunter” columns. For a complete index of all columns, go to EverydayHunter.com.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bear Hunters Can't Win

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Forest Press, December 18, 2013) 

A big congratulations to all the hunters 
who harvested a black bear this season.
Why is bear hunting controversial? I suppose people began to question bear hunting back in 1902 when President Teddy Roosevelt was summoned to shoot a bear that had been tied up—just so Mississippians could guarantee him a successful hunt. He refused, rightly, to shoot it.

Soon after that, plush stuffed toys were named “Teddy bears,” after the hunter-President.

In frontier days (and still today in movies and TV news reports) bears were seen as formidable threats. So it’s surprising that they evoke such sympathy. But they do.

People today rant against the evils of bear hunting while hiding behind online anonymity on Facebook, Twitter, and newspaper websites. They talk as though bears are in decline, when bear populations are soaring. Bear hunters who are by-the-book legal and ethical are suffering the attacks of people who don’t know lesson one about what bear hunting is and what it does for bears. Yes, I said what bear hunting does for bears. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, while some people who are opposed to hunting try to make intelligent arguments, many are truly know-nothings.

A case in point. During the recent Pennsylvania bear season, a giant 772-pound black bear was killed—“harvested” is a more useful word here— by a hunter in Lackawanna County. That’s grizzly bear size. It’s big enough not only to make everyone say, “Wow!” but perhaps to be a possible contender for the world record (which will be judged later by skull size, not weight).

So the know-nothings protest, broadcasting their ignorance with questions like, “Why kill such a big, majestic creature!” That’s a question I can answer. It doesn’t matter how big or majestic (or cute or cuddly, to address the arguments of other self-appointed critics). It was killed because a certain number of bears need to be killed every year.

Yes a certain number of bears NEED to be killed. Bears—some are the largest land predators in the western hemisphere—need to be kept in balance with their habitat and with other species—including humans. And if hunters don’t do it, animal lovers won’t be able to appreciate bears.  

Here’s another criticism, “Any bear that has reached that enormous size should be allowed to live.” That’s a purely subjective opinion which has no place in a legal, ethical, or game management discussion of bear hunting. Bears are notoriously difficult to judge in size, and even the most experienced experts make mistakes. Few hunters would be able to tell under common hunting conditions in Pennsylvania just how big the bear they’re seeing is.

Suppose a hunter kills a 120-pound bear. Many self-appointed critics will rush to criticize him for not letting that bear grow up, when in reality that bear might never grow larger. Should the hunter listen to the person who wants big bears spared? Or to the person who insists hunters should pass up small bears? The hunter can’t please either one, so the hunter can’t win.

Few bear hunters just walk out into the woods and get lucky. You get torn clothing and cuts on your face as you pitch yourself into the nastiest brush you can find to push bears out to someone else. You come home dog-tired from wading swamps, trampling through clearcuts, and climbing hills. And when you get your shot, it may be the one shot you ever get at a live bear. 

So, here’s my conclusion—a big congratulations to all the Pennsylvania hunters who harvested a black bear this season. I’m impressed. In most cases, it’s not an easy feat. And harvesting the bear isn’t just a matter of finding a bear and pulling the trigger.

Once that’s accomplished, how do you get an animal that might be twice your size out of the woods? The hero factor (if that was ever part of it) is over. And if your bear is the size of an NFL offensive lineman, does any anti-hunter even understand what the next step is? I doubt it.

Finally, I promised to tell you what hunting bears does for bears. If bear hunting is ever ended, populations would grow to a level where conflict with humans would be commonplace. So hunting keeps them from becoming a threat to people who have no defense against them. It keeps them from becoming a nuisance. It keeps people safe. It keeps the bear population at a level that’s tolerable and sustainable. And it actually enables people who are against killing them to continue to believe they’re lovable and cute creatures that shouldn’t be killed.

In fact, people who have that unrealistic and romantic view of bears today can only have it because of bear hunters.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Days Hunters Live For

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Forest Press, November 13, 2013) 

When a deer herd has more mature bucks and fewer does, 
rut activity is intensified.

What hunters wait for all year long is happening now. The rut is on!

Non-hunting readers might ask, “What’s the rut?” Simply put, it’s the breeding season for whitetail deer. That’s the reason drivers should slow down at this time of the year. Bucks are chasing does. Does are avoiding bucks. And young deer that are not tuned into what’s happening are running around confused.

The rut actually begins around Labor Day when bucks shed the velvet-like skin covering their newly grown antlers. That’s when bucks are capable of breeding. They’re beginning to spar with other bucks and display before the does in the herd—preparations for planting seed for a new generation.

However, the rut takes about two months to ramp up to full swing, so bucks don’t breed until the does let them. What triggers doe readiness is debatable, but it’s probably a complex set of circumstances that involves daylight hours growing shorter, moon brightness, weather and temperature. Native Americans recognized that the rut was somehow connected to the second full moon of the autumn season. That time is upon us.

This is when the rut gets intense. When a herd has more mature bucks and the fewer does, rut activity is intensified as bucks compete for the attention of does. I saw a beautiful 10-point last Sunday chasing a doe. He had two tines broken off—a sign that she has as least one other suitor that tried to fight off this buck.

A more intense rut is one effect of Pennsylvania’s antler restriction and herd reduction policies instituted 11 years ago. Antler restrictions produced more mature bucks, and herd reduction produced fewer does. (Now, the herd reduction policy has ended and the policy now is to keep the herd stable.)

This is when the rut gets dangerous. Hunters who spend time in the woods in November are seeing more fights. Fights between bucks occasionally results in antlers locking two bucks together. When that happens, it’s an almost sure death sentence for both bucks. Injuries are also common—anything from a broken toe to blindness to life-threatening fractured necks and puncture wounds from being speared with sharp antler tines. 

This is when the rut makes bucks seem stupid. They throw caution to the wind as they search for that irresistible doe. I’ve had bucks walk right up to me and look at me as though I’m in their way. I’ve seen bucks hot on the trail of a doe pass within 10 feet of me oblivious to my presence. If I can get their attention, they just look at me and continue on. When one thing is on a buck’s mind, they sometimes seem oblivious to dangers from hunters.

If I were to name one date on the calendar that seems to be the day to hunt, it would probably be November 14. It seems as though that date is on many pictures of hunters with bucks they’ve shot using archery gear during the rut. One friend, two years in a row, shot bucks of a lifetime on November 14.

But don’t limit yourself to that day. A week or so on either side of that date sees tremendous deer activity, so if you’re an archery hunter, this is the time to be in the woods.

If you’re a gun hunter, all is not lost. Archery hunters don’t shoot the majority of big bucks, as many hunters believe. Plenty of them are left come rifle season. And when that celebrated opening day of rifle season finally arrives, the rut is certainly not over.

Most does may have been bred by then, but bucks are still looking for the next ready doe, so rut hunting tactics continue to be effective in the gun season. The rut doesn’t turn off on any particular day. Some does come into estrus late. Some fail to breed. And bucks are always hopeful that they’ll meet up with one.

This is the time deer hunters live for.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Deer Think You Stink—Here’s What to Do about It

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, October 26, 2013) 

Some guys say they don’t wash their clothing the entire season. 
That’s a mistake, but if you do that, I say “Good.”

Hunters have always been aware that deer can smell us. And evidence shows that they can smell us as much as a quarter mile away.

Today’s advertising for scent control products might make you wonder how old-time nimrods managed to kill whitetails that were wise to their body odor. In light of limited personal hygiene in those days, you’d probably stand as far away as you could to shake hands with Davy Crockett.

Why, exactly, do people stink? Here are four problems you have, along with the solutions to your odor in the deer woods.

1.  The problem? Sweat—You’ve probably heard that perspiration is odorless. That’s true, but it’s not true for long. Microscopic bacteria love dark, damp places, so sweat provides a habitat for bacteria to thrive “where the sun don’t shine.”

The solution? Shower before you hunt. The grease under your fingernails from that last D-I-Y oil change is not the big problem. As perspiration oozes out our pores one molecule at a time, it’s partytime for bacteria. Your challenge is twofold. (1.) Wash away the micro-organisms that have been partying on your body. (2.) Create conditions on your body that are inhospitable to new bacteria. How? Lather up with anti-bacterial soap, which retards the regrowth of odor-producing germs.  

2.  The problem? Skin—With perspiration for bacteria to drink, guess who’s serving the hors d'oeuvres? The same host—namely, you! As bacteria nibble on dead skin cells and the organic wastes in perspiration, they produce their own wastes—and that’s what creates most body odor. And with all the eating and drinking that’s going on, there’s something unmentionable that’s happening, too. Yep—the surface of your skin is a rut zone for bacteria. Bacteria multiply faster than flies.

The solution? Stop shedding skin cells. Actually, that’s impossible. You start shedding skin cells as soon as you towel off. Slow down the process with an anti-bacterial body lotion. It will moisturize the skin that has just been dried by soap, and keep those dead skin cells hanging on a little longer so they won’t channel down your sleeves and sprinkle out like salt on French fries. Again, use a product with no scent added.

3.  The problem? Mouth—Although old-timers didn’t have specialized toothpaste, mouthwash and mints, somehow they killed enough deer to keep body and soul together. In addition, tobacco made them human chimneys. How did they ever get close enough to a woman to be sociable, let alone close enough to a deer to kill it?

The solution? Meticulous oral hygiene. Brush your teeth, your tongue, and the inside of your cheeks. Reach as far back as you can go—test your gag reflex with the toothbrush. Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash. Exhaled air contains an enormous volume of gases, and they’ll drift wherever the air currents take them—so make those gases less threatening. Eat something fresh and natural. Chew a mild, minty, sugar-free gum. (Sugar just feeds more bacteria in your mouth.) Take some apple slices with you into the woods and keep one in your mouth as much as you can.

4.  The problem? Clothing—Some guys say they don’t wash their clothing the entire season. That’s a mistake, but if you do that, I say “Good.” Why? Because if you’re hunting in the area I hunt, a nice buck might avoid you and run into me. Understand this—you add your own odor to your clothes each time you wear them. In addition, airborne odors are coming into contact with your clothes from the outside.

The solution? Clean hunting clothes. Clean body plus clean clothing equals minimal odor in the airspace around you. Never fail to wear clean hunting clothes. Wash them in baking soda, or one of those fancy odor-eliminating detergents. If you can’t easily wash your outerwear, let it air out in fresh air and switch off between two sets.

What about those miracle scent-control suits? They’re expensive, but their scent control value won’t be worth much more than garage-sale hunting clothes unless you take steps to control your odor at its point of origin.

Smart hunters are interested in anything that gives them an advantage over the deer’s most valuable defense—his nose. Certainly nothing works miracles, and even all these steps won’t beat the deer’s nose all the time because a deer’s ability to smell is truly remarkable. So, do all of the above, and then remember the biggest piece to the scent-control puzzle. You must still overcome the wind.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Got a Knife on Ya?

by Steve Sorensen (Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, October 12, 2013.) 

It’s a question that separates the country boys from the city boys. I can make that claim because this country boy spent nine years living in three cities, and never carried a knife then. Today, on the rare occasions when I forget to carry a knife I feel incomplete.

Why carry a knife? Because it’s probably the simplest tool man ever invented. (Using a rock as a hammer pre-dates the knife, but a rock hardly qualifies as an invention.) It’s also one of the most basic. (Yes, the rock-hammer is a little more basic.) And it’s the most useful. If you play Rock-Paper-Knife instead of Rock-Paper-Scissors, my money will be on the knife. 
A knife can do more jobs than you can imagine, 
and some it was never intended to do.

A knife does a wide variety of jobs. You can open your mail with a knife. You can cut through virtually indestructible, modern clamshell packaging. You can sever a rope. Open cardboard boxes. Do a manicure. (And if you’re really flexible, a pedicure.)

If you need to start a fire you can make fine shavings from a stick for kindling. If you’re a gardener you can open seed packets, cut suckers from your tomato plants, and graft buds onto root stock. If you’re a woodworker, you can trim splinters, wedge a crack apart so you can work in some glue, and trim dried glue. If you’re a hunter you can trim shooting lanes, field dress an animal and cut twine to attach a harvest tag.

You can play electrician and use a knife to strip insulation from wire. You can play mechanic and cut wire to clamp a coolant hose, or clean corroded battery terminals. You can play florist and arrange flowers with a knife. You can dig the mud out of your shoes, then cut a sliver out of your finger, then use it as a fork for eating peaches out of a can. (To a country boy, washing the blade is optional.)

If you’re a romantic country boy you can carve your initials into the trunk of a tree, along with your girlfriend’s initials, and cut a heart around them.

In emergencies, doctors have used pocket knives to cut tracheotomies, and used the barrel of a pen for a breathing tube. In another kind of emergency you can cut a seat belt. In your leisure you can play mumbley-peg. (Google it.) If you’re a farmer you can do just about anything.

A knife can do more jobs than you can imagine, and some it was never intended to do. Many jobs are hard on the blade, so some people carry two knives – one quality knife with a good cutting blade, and another of lesser quality they don’t mind abusing. Some people carry more than two. You can’t have too many.

Where to keep a knife? In a pocket or on a belt. Or you can dangle a neck knife under your shirt. You could strap one to your ankle to keep the weight out of your pocket.

In the late 1880s, the Swiss Army wanted a folding pocket knife designed so soldiers could open canned food and disassemble the Swiss service rifle. Voilà – a multi-tool was born. By loading a variety of other tools into a compact package, a Swiss Army Knife has been designed for nearly every profession, from doctor to soldier to tinker. Not even computer geeks are left out – Victorinox has a model with a USB thumb drive on it.

Today, two companies make “official” Swiss Army knives. To distinguish themselves from a hundred imitators, Victorinox claims to be “the original” and Wenger calls theirs “the genuine” Swiss Army Knife.

When I was a kid on the school bus I remember carrying a very small fixed-blade knife. The blade couldn’t have been more than an inch and a half long. I had lost the sheath, which led to a problem. The short version of the long story is that I did a bad thing with it, purely an accident, but I didn’t get tossed from school. All kids carried knives back then – country boys couldn’t live without one.

A knife is simply a tool you can use for right or wrong, good or bad. Because you can do bad, some people would like to ban knives. But what can’t you do bad things with?  

So carry a knife. Then when someone asks, “Got a knife on ya’?” it may not be the perfect knife for the task, but it’ll do the job.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five Reasons Why Poachers Are Not Hunters

by Steve Sorensen (Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, September 28, 2013.)

What is a poacher? Historically, a poacher was from a low socio-economic class in Europe, where wealthy landowners were considered to own the animals that roamed their land. When a hungry peasant would occasionally kill an animal for food, that peasant was called a poacher. Poaching was a serious crime against a landowner.

The actions of poachers don’t bear the scrutiny of public view.

The word “poach” comes from the Middle English word “pocchen,” which literally means to enclose in a pouch, or to “bag” something. The idea is to hide what one has taken.

In this country during the Great Depression when game laws were not yet widely respected, many people poached because they felt the laws were unjust. In those days, a game warden might occasionally look the other way when he knew a family was hungry and had no other alternative.

Many hunters today are sympathetic with that motivation, but with so many government food programs and a variety of agencies that provide food, including venison donation programs, hunger is no excuse for poaching.

But poaching continues because poachers have a variety of other motivations. Some poachers kill for pride. Some poachers kill for certain body parts that have a value on the black market. Some do it because they disagree with hunting regulations. Some make poaching a game of outsmarting game wardens. Some poach purely for the pleasure of killing.

In the late 20th century environmental scientists began applying the word “poach” to the illegal harvest of plant species, so even the innocent picking of wildflowers could in some cases be considered poaching. When the definition is broadened, its application to game animals is weakened.

That may be why few people accept such a broad application of the word, and most still connect poaching primarily with game animals. Some mistakenly equate hunters with poachers, but poachers are not hunters. Here’s why?

1.  Poachers don’t abide by laws that govern hunters. Hunting and conservation laws have a long and strong history. Hunters during the early 20th century created a wildlife conservation system that has no room for the idea of poaching. The system of enforcing game laws is respected by hunters, but not by poachers.

2.  Poachers aren’t self-limiting as hunters are. Hunters have limits, and they want limits. When a hunter attaches a tag to an animal, he is well aware of the limit and he accepts it. He recognizes that it’s illicit to try to use that tag again. He has successfully made a harvest, and recognizes that to attempt to use that tag again is a selfish act. The poacher doesn’t care that he’s selfish.

3.  The methods of poachers are unacceptable to hunters. Most hunting regulations are created at the state level, so state game agencies stipulate what methods of harvest are legal. Hunters accept those regulations and methods. Poachers do not. Poachers use weapons that are not legal for hunting, think nothing of taking animals outside the legal dates or hours stipulated for harvesting a species, and take animals that are illegal to hunt – even threatened and endangered species for which there is no open season.

4.  Poachers steal from hunters and from the population at large. In North America, wildlife is not owned by those who own the land it lives on. Nor is it owned by those licensed to hunt it. Until it is killed, it’s owned by the people at large, and to kill an animal illegally is to steal from them. Properly licensed hunters are not stealing when they use the methods and weapons sanctioned for hunting, and hunt within the stipulated seasons and times.

5.  As thieves, poachers operate in a covert way. This relates to the origin of the word “poach,” to hide in a pouch. The actions of poachers don’t bear the scrutiny of public view, so poachers must hide their kills and manipulate the facts and circumstances when they take an animal to a butcher or a taxidermist, or display it on the wall. No hunter needs to hide his kill, and hunters can be honest about the facts of the kill.

Hunters are a healthy and necessary part of wildlife conservation. Poachers are destructive to it. Poaching is not hunting, and poachers are not hunters any more than bank robbers are a bank’s customers.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why Hunter Stereotypes Are False

by Steve Sorensen (Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, September 14, 2013.)

People like to categorize people. That impulse may be negative, coming from our inclination to create stereotypes of others. Or it may be positive, coming from our God-given urge to name things.

The five stages of hunters – not one of them is bad.

In Genesis 2:19-20, God gave man the responsibility for naming the animals, “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.” That tells us it’s human nature to classify things, organize things, and catalog things – all in an effort to create order.

Some people categorize hunters. Some extremists are motivated to pigeonhole all hunters as poachers, murderers, even sociopaths. One of their favorite words is “slobs,” and they use it as often as possible. Others make a genuine attempt to understand hunters. They recognize hunting’s positive aspects, and don’t attach disapproving adjectives to the word “hunter.”

Between 1975 and 1980 Dr. Robert Jackson and Dr. Robert Norton from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse campus, studied more than 1000 hunters and their theory of hunter development has become widely accepted. It’s cited often in hunter education classes and hunter behavior research. They identified five stages deer hunters tend to pass through during a lifetime of hunting.

1.  Shooting Stage – When starting out, hunters want to pull the trigger as often as possible. Success is defined primarily as kills.
2.  Limiting Out Stage – The hunter defines success in terms of numbers. He wants to harvest as many deer as is legally possible and keeps track of things such as consecutive years of harvests.
3.  Trophy Stage – Quality becomes more important than quantity, and quality is defined in terms of trophy game animals. A trophy is not necessarily judged by size. And the definition of a trophy does not diminish what the hunter harvested at earlier stages. It might even be defined by the experience of the hunt. The hunter now draws on knowledge acquired in the earlier stages. The hunter is also beginning to see himself as a manager of a wildlife resource.
4.  Method Stage – The hunter becomes more focused on methods. He becomes more strategic and focuses on his skills and understanding deer behavior. His stories are less about his kills and more about the methods that produced an opportunity. He may begin restricting himself to primitive weapons.
5.  Sportsman Stage – Others have called this the reflective stage, and even the philosophical stage. The hunter has a broad view of hunting and focuses on sharing it with others. He tends to view quality as what goes into habitat and all that the habitat supports, and he is concerned about the preservation of hunting for future generations.

Those five ways of classifying hunters probably fit people best who start hunting at an early age, and continue hunting for a lifetime. It doesn’t assume hunters quickly transition through the stages, and all hunters might not progress through all of them.

Given these five stages, I make the following seven observations:
  •   The stages may be similar for any enthusiast of any activity. Stamp collectors, for example, probably have their parallel.
  •   These stages do not define a hierarchy of moral values, as none of them is bad. We don’t fault a beginning hunter for being in the Shooting Stage nor do we say a hunter in the Sportsman Stage is morally superior.
  •   Hunters are often part of a peer group, and peer groups have influence. If a hunter has only peers who are in one stage, he might not move to another stage until his peer group changes.
  •   Since these are defined as “stages,” they imply growth. There is no clear line between one and another. Thus, each hunter is unique, and no stereotype of hunters reflects reality.
  •   Not only are hunters all unique, they all change through their careers.
  •   Anti-hunting propaganda fails to recognize that all hunters are different, and it attacks hunters based on stereotypes and caricatures.
  •   All five stages describe legal, ethical hunters and leave no room to consider poachers as being in the ranks of hunters.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Bambi Model of Wildlife Conservation

by Steve Sorensen (Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, August 31, 2013.)

Have you ever thought about what’s going on in the woods when you’re not there? Some would have us believe that all the animals are enjoying a long, peaceful life, the pleasant company of their animal friends, and the natural safety of the forest. And that when man steps into that forest, everything changes.

Hunters often say many people get their ideas 
about wildlife from cartoons, but how did that happen?

Where does that image come from? It comes from Walt Disney. But old Walt didn’t come up with it himself. He got it from a 1923 novel written by an Austrian writer with the pen name Felix Salten. The book was Bambi: A Life in the Woods, and it was published in the United States in 1928.

By the time Mr. Disney read Bambi, his studio was in what would later be known as “the Golden Age of Animation,” and this new lovable deer character would be a big moneymaker in a lineup that already included Snow White, Mickey Mouse and Dumbo. But Bambi would be more controversial. Bambi helped stir up public opposition to hunting.

The stage was set by at least three developments:
(1.) Market hunting had gone away, mostly because hunters realized that game populations could not continue to meet the demands of meat for city restaurants, and indiscriminate hunting had the potential to exterminate species.

(2.) The advent of refrigeration and transcontinental rail lines introduced industrialization to meat production. Western cattle herds came quickly to Midwestern slaughterhouses and eastern markets, which made it common for most people to avoid killing their own meat.   

(3.) And northern post-Civil War cities benefitted from technology, becoming more urbanized and wealthier, which grew the educated and economically comfortable urban upper classes. Their primary understanding of hunting had been market hunting. Now they preferred to appreciate deer for their elegance and beauty.

Into those societal trends stepped Bambi, tailor-made to broaden the anti-hunting message to the masses.

Hunters often say many people get their ideas about wildlife from cartoons, but exactly how did that happen? More to the point, what was it about Bambi that gave people ideas about wildlife conservation? Several things.

Bambi: A Life in the Woods clearly offered the view that man is the problem. The death of Bambi’s mother was at the hands of an evil hunter. Even without picturing the hunter, the event traumatized not only the Bambi character, but millions of children who watched the movie. Many even took home a clear mental picture of the evil hunter, though they never even saw him.
The fictional forest setting was created from artists’ storyboards which conveyed the idea that life in the wild was serene, that all the forest’s animals enjoyed easy and symbiotic relationships, and that animals were safe and happy until man entered the woods.
The cartoon characters were humanized. Artists’ drawings proportioned animal faces to mimic infantile human shapes as a way to convey human emotions. Script writers gave each animal a personality any audience could identify with and care about as individuals.
Many anti-hunters don’t know it, but it’s because of Bambi that they think man is the problem, and if man would just keep his guns out of the woods all the animals would get along nicely. It led them to preach a message never before heard – a false message that man is a creature totally separate from nature. And lots of people loved the message.

But it wasn’t just non-hunters. The movie even influenced hunters. Hunters began to renounce the killing of does at a time when many deer populations began to flourish as never before. As the wilderness was tamed from sea to shining sea, large predators became scarce, and man was virtually the only predator deer had across most of the continent. Social pressure and changing demographics were seeking to reduce man’s influence as a predator.

The year after Disney released the film, famous naturalist Aldo Leopold advocated an antlerless deer season in Wisconsin to reduce an overpopulated herd and diminish its rate of reproduction. Scholarly studies have attributed the failure of Leopold’s proposal to public sentiment stirred by Bambi, a Life in the Woods.

And that’s how a cartoon became some people’s model for wildlife conservation – a cartoon that depicts hunters as evil, animals as talking friends, buck fawns as “princes,” and the forest as a place where all animals do their loving in the springtime.

Of course, if a cartoon would depict what really goes on in the woods when you're not there, it would need to be rated R.