Hunting’s latest challenge

Needing some fresh eggs, I decided to take a ride to one of the
Pennsylvania farms I hunt and get a dozen for me and another for
the farmer whose land I also hunt. I picked up the eggs, which I
doubted the chickens even missed yet, and drove three more miles to
the other farm. Expressing his gratitude for the eggs, my friend
invited me into the kitchen. “Sit down, I haven’t seen you for a
while,” he said.

A product of the Depression, my friend, now in his 80s, has
worked the land all his life. Over the years, I was amazed about
the stories he told of living on the farm during the Depression and
having little to eat and only a straw mattress on which to sleep.
Over a lifetime he and his younger brother worked the land, raised
their families, educated their children and found a way to make a
living. Tilling the soil, liming the fields, spreading manure,
fixing equipment, planting crops and filling the silos while every
day milking cows – the work never stopped. Day after day, year
after year, little changed, but now the land is paying them
back.

The good news is my friend recently enrolled the nearly
1,000-acre farm in a lease agreement with a major gas drilling
company, and let’s just say without a molecule of gas yet to be
pumped out of the ground, he’s comfortable and his family will be
comfortable – probably for generations. Good for him; he and his
family deserve whatever bounty comes out of the ground they own.
Good, hard-working people deserve that and I’m happy for them.
However, more selfishly, I couldn’t help noticing the blue, orange
and yellow ribbons festooning many of the trees where I hunted last
fall.

I learned the blue ribbons marked the path of a new gas
pipeline, while the yellow ones delineated the area where drilling
will begin. The orange markers indicated where the dynamite would
be set off in order to do seismic studies of the area. In short
order, my best hunting spot will be crawling with workers, awash in
noise and polluted with the stench of diesel fumes from the
bulldozers that will be working the ground, building roads to the
drill site and for building the drill pad itself.

Dump trucks and ‘dozers will soon be driving through the
pastures where I hunted deer, and the hillside where I hunt turkeys
will soon be denuded of trees in order to build the pipeline
necessary to get the gas to market. We here in New York haven’t
seen any gas drilling yet, but I’m betting we soon will and, just
like my spot in Pennsylvania, there will be many other hunters
facing the same problem.

On the drive home I couldn’t help thinking it’s not the
anti-hunting groups that might put an end to hunting, but rather it
will be the lack of access to hunting land that will cause many to
just give up and quit hunting altogether. Those currently owning
rural land are often reluctant to let anyone else hunt because
family members and their friends are hunters as well. I’ve been
looking for a new hunting spot for next fall but so far it hasn’t
been easy.

Categories: New York – Mike Raykovicz

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