Deer Hunting and The Reasons Why

The month of October brings to mind harvest season, truck loads of corn and soy beans hauled in from the fields, but it also marks the beginning of the annual harvest of some white tailed deer from our forests.  Right now it is bow hunting season with shotgun season to follow in December.  Anyone trying to grow trees in America is aware of the damage done by high populations of deer.  There are currently more deer in Iowa than there were when the first European settlers arrived.  Back then, there were natural predators in the area and Native Americans would hunt deer year round.  One mountain lion will consume 50 deer in a year, more than two dozen hunters during the same period.  Older monks remember when sighting a deer was a very rare event.  Now, we spot them every day.

These days, if seedlings are not protected from deer by plastic tubes, welded wire cages, or deer fencing very few if any trees will survive since these two tree species are among the deer's favorite food.  To promote a healthy forest ecosystem wild life biologists encourage the reduction of the deer population, which is accomplished through annual deer hunting.  Safety and good order are of highest priority for us during hunting season.  So, we have established a system by which two hunting groups, (one for each of our forest areas), is each supervised by a neighbor and long time monastery friend.  The hunters are all known to them, registered, and instructed in our forest policies.  To facilitate population control the emphasis is on taking does rather than just trophy bucks.  One group has a "check in" board so that as each hunter comes in he knows who else is in the forest and where they are.  At present, the monks appreciate the amiable and mutually beneficial friendship we have fostered with our brother hunters. 

Author: New Melleray Abbey

Tags: forests, land stewardship,

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