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Hunting is a fond family tradition

am writing this in response to the Nov. 15 article about hunting. Like the other gentleman stated in his letter to the editor, thank you for your open stance on ethical hunting and for NOT choosing to remove the pictures.

I am not related to the children that were photographed with the deer that caused such a controversy but what I can tell you is my personal story about hunting.

As a very young girl, I can remember the first time I saw a dead deer that my dad, an avid hunter, harvested. I remember crying and telling him that I hated him. You see, my dad was in the Navy and was gone a lot and in his free time he enjoyed the outdoors and being with family.

He sat me on his knee and told me that he didn’t want me to hate him for killing that deer but he wanted to talk to me about it. He explained to me (not in such large terms) that sometimes hunting is necessary to control populations and keep animal numbers in check.

When a certain population becomes to large it can be  harmful for other populations and then that ecosystem or habitat becomes out of balance causing food shortages and disease. He also explained that an increased population of a certain species can cause more vehicle related accidents.  It was also a cost effective way for him to put meat on the table to feed us.

Over the years, he took my two brothers and I hunting with him. He taught us about nature and how to appreciate it and respect it. He told us stories about hunting trips he went on when he was younger and the trips he took to the mountains. He took our family camping and to the deer camp in North Georgia where we spent many Thanksgivings playing hide-and-seek in the dark, looking at the stars and keeping warm by the fire. He taught us gun safety, hunting safety, knife safety, wildlife conservation, ethical hunting and most importantly he gave us his time. Precious time and memories….

I am now in my 30s and my dad is very sick. A man that gave us so much growing up, worked long hours and spent months out at sea….. He still made time for us and never asked for anything in return. The time he spent showing us how to hold a gun and how to aim, the time we spent in the woods just sitting next to each other….that’s time that can never be replaced.

Not all hunters have bad intentions. Most hunters are very well versed in ethical hunting as well as wildlife conservation and teach their kids the same. I actually know hunters that hunt and donate the meat to needy families in our community.

Kelly Whitten

Oxford