My first and only hunting story was with my dad, my grandfather and brother.
Svetlana Voreskova
51

Great story, and it illustrates yet again that height of irony I keep running into about this “Russia” country I grew up being told knew nothing about freedom, and that’s why we had to save the world from them.

You probably have no earthly clue, what a tightly-regulated and rigidly-enforced stack of laws, rules, regulations and restrictions folks who hunt over much of the US have to deal with. A big part of even taking it on, is a whole education in just the ways you might be breaking the law, and how not to.

Where you can and where you can’t hunt. What calibers and gauges of weapon each species can be shot with, and what loads in each of them you can and can’t use. How far from a roadway, or in what direction relative to it one takes the shot. Five minutes after sunrise, and five minutes before sunset, and they wrote it down for you in the hunting guide so there is no excuse for not knowing. If you’re on private property and don’t know it, or any of dozens of kinds of public property where hunting is prohibited, you might get suspected of being a terrorist or a drug smuggler and shot first before any questions get asked. No spotlights. No baits. No shooting from a vehicle. Only the ones with the right license can take the shot. Shoot the wrong sex, or the wrong age, and damn sure shoot anything out of season, or do any other thing even slightly unlawful, and you’re a poacher. Poaching is a felony, the legal equivalent of rustling since what you did was slaughter State property without permission. They will damn sure lock you up and throw the book at you.

And in the case of big game, in most States you have to apply for a lottery months beforehand, for a five-to-ten day season in the fall, and if you don’t get picked too bad for you. You can’t use someone else’s license. If you make a kill and don’t have the copy of the tag, and properly affixed to the carcass, when a game warden stops you, stupid you. Explain it to the judge, and he’s a hunter too and ain’t buyin your excuses….

Et cetera. It is so preposterously regulated, especially in the case of vast rural areas where no one goes hunting and there is plenty of game and people need it for the meat, that it practically creates a whole perverse incentive to go ahead and poach. Most folks I knew who had grown up in New Mexico just took a rifle to the woods whenever they went for firewood or to visit a gold site or a meth lab, and shoot whatever might be good to eat. My going through all the motions to do it legally, was just seen as silly and pointless.

All the advantages, despite what anti-hunting and anti-gun people want to believe, are with the animals. To really have a chance to get exactly what the law allows you to shoot and not break any of dozens of other laws in the process, is an expert pursuit the mastering of which takes a lot more than just going out in the woods with a gun. A person just about has to be a god-damn lawyer just to know how not to get thrown in the pokey while they’re at it.

I said before, what you describe is almost unimaginable in the legal world of American hunting, here in this “land of the free” where we’re being watched constantly, and suspected of something with every breath we draw.

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