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Majority of hunters are ethical

I’m writing this opinion piece in response to Ruth Lyn Meese’s published guest column of Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, “Lazy man’s ‘hunting.’”

I very respectfully and strongly disagree with her opinion on those hunters who use beagles, hounds, or any other type of dog to help bag a deer. I feel her comments are grossly out of touch with the reality as to how the majority of hunters across Central and Southside Virginia behave in their actions of hunting, caring for their dogs, disposing of carcasses, and above, all, respecting the Code of Virginia when it comes to hunting.

Hunting is part of our heritage here in rural Virginia. It should be held accountable and protected.

Back in 2016, when I was with The Herald as managing editor, I wrote that hunting with dogs was ethical. “I think that hunting with dogs is a tradition that needs to be protected, and that takes awareness, understanding and compromise on both sides of the issue.”

I stand by that sentiment, just as I do the following statement. I think it’s unethical to allow for, and know of and not take action, on the inhumane treatment of dogs, or any other animal. It’s unethical to deprive a dog’s nutrition until it successfully tracks a deer, racoon, bear, or any other hunted game.

I’m a hunter. I don’t hunt a lot. But I do hunt. And I’ve hunted with dogs; I grew up doing it. We took great care for our dogs when I was younger, and we named them. My father taught me how to care for them, giving them fresh water and food daily. We buried them after their deaths on our property.

It’s unethical to not keep hunting dogs healthy with vaccinations or to keep them in isolation or harsh weather for extended periods of time. It’s also unethical to own or manage hunting dogs and, at the end of the day, not look for them come dusk. It’s wrong to allow them to roam over others property and cause harm for people and their property alike.

Most hunters around here are ethical.

Hunters, who still hunt or hunt with dogs, should and must be held accountable for what their dogs do or don’t do, along with their own actions — just as everyone else is. And just like everyone else, there’s a part of the hunting population that abuses their dogs, and that’s wrong. There’s no two ways about it.

One of the rules of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance’s dog hunting owner’s code of ethics states, “I will provide proper care for my dog, including food, water, medical care and shelter, and will firmly assist other hunting dog owners to do the same.”

Again, I say, the majority of hunters in Buckingham, Cumberland or Prince Edward are ethical. Don’t let a few bad actors from out of town or here in our community represent the entire hunting population. They don’t represent me and the hunters I know.

JORDAN MILES can be reached at thomas.jordan.miles@gmail.com.