Dylan, 36, a park ranger who's been eating wild game since he could chew solid food and hunting since he was 12, started noticing something unusual in the past couple of years. He'd be at some house party in his eco-conscious East Vancouver neighbourhood and someone would inevitably pull him aside and whisper eagerly, enviously, \"I hear you're a hunter.\"
He tells me all this over the phone a week before the workshop. His venison sausages have converted at least two former vegetarian friends, he says, and he makes it clear (not that he wants to brag or anything), that he is an extremely successful hunter.
It's true, he's killed the kind of big game (eight-point bucks) that some hunters wait a lifetime for, but his greatest measure of success -- as far as he's concerned -- is his ability to maintain a seasonal supply of wild meat for himself, his friends and family. \"Where I get my motivation and see my place in the world is as a hunter,\" he says. \"I see my role in my little community as a provider of meat.\"
The deer is lying on its side, no visible blood except for a fine spray around its nostrils, with its tongue lolled out and the wide-open glassy eyes of an inanimate animal. It was a quick shot, a clean shot, says Dylan, which is the best a hunter can hope for. The worst is to hit an animal and not kill it -- the injured beast will crash into the bush and the hunter is obliged to go after it, a task not unlike that of a forensic investigator searching for evidence.
Perhaps this is why fewer and fewer people bother. Hunting has experienced a steep decline in the past 25 years, and efforts to recruit new hunters have been so far unsuccessful. While some would no doubt rejoice at this news, wildlife conservation programs in the province depend on hunting license fees and taxes. The B.C. Habitat Conservation Trust Fund has funded $48 million worth of projects -- research, education and on-the-ground habitat restoration -- with hunting revenue since 1981. That year, there were 174,088 registered resident hunters in the province. Today, there are about half that many.
Dylan knows deer, but Geoff really knows deer. He's hunted whitetail in the Kettle Valley for 25 years, and seen changes in their numbers and range, both increasing in British Columbia. He knows that mule deer are less \"spooky\" than whitetails; they don't necessarily take off if they spot a hunter. And if they do spook, nine times out of 10 they'll stop about a hundred yards out to glance back. That's when you have your gun ready. 59ce067264