Please do not stop the photos and stories of youth hunters with the game they harvest. There simply would be no big game populations without public hunting programs, because 92 percent of the funding for game management comes exclusively from hunting licenses, stamps, tags, and taxes on firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Less than 8 percent comes from the nonhunting taxpayers.
I am not a hunter, but every year I buy a hunting license, and so should people who claim that they really care about game animals and their diminishing habitats. Also, you do not have to be a hunter to become a volunteer hunter-education instructor -- if you really care about the animals.
Yes, God created four-legged predators, and Arizona is overrun with them at present. That's why Arizona's deer counts, and the number of permit tags issued (for them), are at a 20-year low.
Ill informed and prejudiced anti-hunters have caused the virtual elimination of predator trapping and hunting, (preventing the restoration) of a balance in game to predator ratios.
Worse, hunters who begin to make a dent in the over population of predators are maliciously prosecuted, probably to pander to the anti-hunting crowd. I will continue to teach my students in the hunter-education programs not to display their harvested big game tied to the hoods of their vehicles, and to be sensitive to the sensibilities of non-hunters.
However, to censor their pictures and stories out of the sporting section of public newspapers is going too far. Gun owners and hunters may be a minority now, but their rights and the legitimate roles they play in a healthy society, must not be demonized or censored in the public media.
Responsible shooters and hunters deserve recognition more than the irresponsible ones who seem to grab so many headlines these days.
I look forward to a more positive balance of stories about responsible shooters and hunters in your newspaper. Thanks.
Jim Berrier, Payson