This episode shines an interesting light on many issues that some people might not consider when thinking about hunting. With the fall, comes hunting season and the inevitable debate about the ethics of hunting. This week, Joe and Vince tackle the perceptions and realities of hunters and the many ways they support conservation and the balance of the ecosystem. They also discuss the spiritual aspects of hunting, including a popular and poetic clip from Chris Pratt.
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Vince Kern 0:00
Welcome to another friends in wonder podcast, a place where we invite you to wander with us about meaningful topics without judgment for limits, brought to you by two lifelong friends looking for insights through a lens of how can this help
Joe Luther 0:15
I'm Joe Luther,
Vince Kern 0:17
and I'm Vince Kern, and we're your hosts. Now let's wander and wander together.
Hey, Joe. Hey, Vince, how you doing? Hey, I'm doing great, man. It's a great day. And it's fall. You can feel it in the air. Well, it's almost fall. But yeah, well, you're right. A few more few more weeks. Leaves are kind of starting to turn. Who buses are driving around. Yeah, yeah. And then, you know, there's the whole question of whether the lions are going to win more than a couple of games this year. Not much of a question to me even in a you know, it's also time for you to start getting ready for hunting isn't getting back out into the woods. Yes, indeed, I'm very excited, very pumped up about it. And I'm also pumped up that we decided to tackle the issue of the ethics behind hunting, because I gotta tell you, very often, when I'm at a family get together or neighborhood party or just talking to somebody down the street about what I'm doing this week. And when I tell them, I'm going hunting, sometimes I I sense,
Joe Luther 1:25
less than an embracing reaction, some furrowed brows,
Vince Kern 1:28
Joe Luther 1:29
And I think it's a good idea. There's a lot of people who have very strong opinions about what hunting is. And I thought it would be a good episode to especially given the time of year, and the fact that I will be spending more time doing this. And over the next couple of months, I thought it'd be a good topic of conversation, certainly something that we can incorporate into our theme of, of wonder, and in that is, you know, the ethical considerations of hunters. And, you know, very often, one of the responses that I get from people are, you're going to shoot Bambi. And so we all know, like, even even older boomers than us grew up with Bambi movies. And so this idea that the hunter shoots Bambi is mom and, and Bambi becomes an orphan as a result of it, you know, is, is ingrained in so many people's heads. And, you know, the other thing that I get is, they're just too cute to shoot. And, you know, because you see deer running around the neighborhood, and they, they are beautiful animals. But I just thought it would be good to explain my point of view, maybe in a given takeaway with you about the ethical considerations of, of hunting. And, you know, I don't know, I guess the best place to start for me is, I personally hunt, wild animals wild game, for the food. And I think that in and of itself, is a very, very ethical thing. And especially if you, if you compare it to the kind of meat that most people eat, that comes out of a grocery store, most people don't want to think about it. That's why they call it beef instead of cow. But most people just don't want to think about where that meat, what happened to the animal that they're eating, they don't even really want to think about it. That's the first part about it. But the reality is, I don't know. Have you ever seen that movie food Incorporated?
Vince Kern 3:43
Is that the one where they talk about the processing of food and how it goes from?
Joe Luther 3:48
Yeah, I think it was about 10 or 15 years ago, and it was very difficult for a lot of people to watch. In fact, I think it might have created a lot of vegans after ever people watch it, but it's, it's this whole idea of the mass production of, of animal meat. And so that includes cows, for sure. And chickens. And, and so, you know, I guess what I'm getting at is that when somebody says to me, Oh, you're going to shoot Bambi or oh, you know, maybe they're judging in their mind, but maybe, hopefully not with their mouth. I don't get I don't get a lot of visceral response. But I certainly get a feeling that people don't like it. And I know that I've had friends who have hunted with me for the first time and, and they post a picture on Facebook of of their successful hunt and they get tons of negative responses from people. But what I guess I'm getting as they're getting those responses from people who go to the restaurant and order their filet mignon, rare and don't give any thought to what happened to that animal or how that animal was harvested before they ate it, they just, in a way pass judgment on the hunter because he goes out and in shoots this wild animal.
Vince Kern 5:09
It sounds to me like the discussion of the morality or the ethics of hunting is very similar to the divide that we have with our column high level discussions, no politics and, and and it's a divisive topic because it doesn't seem like we spend any time communicating different viewpoints with each
Joe Luther 5:31
other. Right. And that's exactly what I'm hoping to do with this episode is, is maybe talk a little bit more about, you know, my viewpoint about why it's a more ethical thing than what people tend to judge it by. And, you know, I guess my first thing is, I just think it's, it's, it's hypocritical to say that you're against hunting. If you're a meat eater, like I have a real hard time with that, it makes no sense to me, you have to have some sort of a disconnect going on in your head to not believe that the meat that you're eating had to be killed before you ate it. I mean, I would hope it was killed before you ate it. So that's like one of my, my fundamental objections that I have, I get it, if you're a vegan, in you don't like the idea of eating another animal or, or what they say, you know, the vet has eyes, I'm not going to eat it. I get that because it's consistent. If you're, if you're truly not going to eat an animal from the store, or from the wild, and you've got that as a, a personal philosophy, I'm okay with that. I do like to ask vegans. Do you think the plants that you're eating have feelings? And I know that's kind of a tricky question. But I mean, really, eating and surviving, eating in maintaining your body as a as a living organism is messy business, you got to eat something that was alive, you eat a plant, or you eat an animal. And there's a lot of research out there that says, plants have feelings. I know, I play music to the plants in my house. And they say that there's some beneficial. Yeah. And then they talk about the symbiotic nature of the trees and forests and all that, so that there is more to it than just this idea that you know, I don't want to hurt another living being well, I don't know, anything that you eat as a living being. But I get it. If you're against eating animals in general, then I don't have a problem with you being against hunting, because that's a consistent thing. But what really bothers me is when is when people will go to the grocery store and order, you know, USDA Choice beef, and then go home and have some kind of judgment about venison or
Vince Kern 8:06
whatever. Yeah, in those animals that you're that are being processed to become the beef that you buy in the store. They don't have great lives. No,
Joe Luther 8:17
they that's it. I mean, some of them do. And we know like a lot of people are trying to eat grass fed or open range or, you know, cage free chickens and, and that kind of thing because I think the impact of of movies like food incorporating there's been a whole bunch of them since then, you know, has brought in probably PETA but there's there's been more attention brought to the inhumane way that we farm animals. But yeah, I mean, chicken very often, chicken that we all eat from fast food restaurants is genetically modified chicken and what I love about the wild game that that I harvest or, or you know, hunt, it's, they're not genetically modified animals. These are wild animals. And what I really like to tell people is that, you know, most most people won't be judgmental against a farmer who processes a cow or a pig or whatever animal they're not judgmental, because, hey, you know that that farmer has been farming in taking care of those animals and, and that's part of his business. Well, I like to think of myself really, as a wildlife farmer. The land that I own and I own 230 acres of land is is designated. In fact, I have like a land stewardship designation for this land. So it is designated to be forest for wildlife and, and there's no fences. We don't keep these animals in. We actually do a lot to help them You know, promote the herd. But I like to think of myself as really like an an open air or, or an unfenced wildlife farmer, because we're out there. You know, like, we know from our trail cams, there's probably 30 or 40 Different deer that we might see through the trail cams. And any given you when you might only harvest three or four or five, depending on how many hunters we have come up there. So, you know, they are, I guess, getting back to my point is that these are animals that had a chance to roam freely, they reproduced, you know, they, they've lived with their family members, all of the things animals are supposed to do. You know, I enjoy just going in the woods very often, just to observe them. But anyhow, getting back to the general visceral reaction, I, I think, you know, that was the part that I wanted to talk about is, you know, this kind of hypocritical idea that you can, you know, eat a hamburger and be against people who go out and hunt whitetail deer.
Vince Kern 11:09
Yeah. And it sounds to that part of what you're doing with your land is helping manage the herd. And I know that there's departments like the DNR. And I mean, in my when I was looking into this a little bit, I didn't realize that in the late 1800s, there was almost an extinction. Oh, yeah, of all these animals. And the reason was, because they had to supply that was called Market hunting, and they were supplying these meat markets be previous prior to refrigeration and the ability to transport and processed meat. But things we're almost extinct, right?
Joe Luther 11:49
Yeah. I mean, obviously, we know that Buffalo and bison almost went extinct. And for sure, wild turkey very nearly went extinct. white tailed deer were on the verge of extinction. Yeah, because there was no regulation. And at the end of the 1800s, in the early 19 hundred's there were actually the people that ended up preserving these species were in fact, wild game hunters, conservationists, because they saw that these animals are, you know, work, because there was no regulation, we're quickly becoming extinct. And, and so fortunately, there were a number of laws that were enacted. Well, for instance, I think one of the first acts was the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or whatever, that that designated birds that cannot be hunted. And, you know, obviously, the eagle was one of them. I think the eagle was on the verge of extinction. I don't, I don't know, really firsthand whether people were eating Eagles or not. But certainly, you know, there was an obvious reason to preserve the eagle. But they also wanted to regulate all these other birds that really weren't worthy of hunting. You know, some states, you have doves that are illegal to hunt in other states, they're not legal on Michigan, they're not. You know, there's a number of Sandhill cranes in some states, you can own them, other states, you can't. Ducks and geese, everybody knows. But you have to do it in a way that is sustainable. And what what the hunting? Well, the regulation of hunters brought was was a sense of order to at all. And more than that, even by regulating hunting. It was also a way to raise funds through the licensing of which species you hunt, their stamps that you have to get. In fact, I think there was a law that was enacted that 10 or 11%, of all ammunition sales, go to conservation of wildlife,
Vince Kern 14:11
which helps manage the the ecosystem and provides more places for these animals to roam and keeps them from going extinct.
Joe Luther 14:21
Right, exactly. And then there's, you know, on top of that, round the same time, there were a number of associations that were created by hunters like Ducks Unlimited, or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, there's so many different associations that were created. And the purpose for for that was to raise money to get donations of land to make land preservation for ecosystems for these various species. Ducks, Ducks Unlimited have so many designated wildlife territories for these, you know, for for their migration and, and just for protection. There's all sorts of sanctuaries in every state as a result of this. And that's all driven by hunters. So hunters really serve a really serve a great function for the maintenance of the species. And, you know, like I said, I have my 230 acres that is designated as forest so that these animals can, can live and thrive. And there's, there's just, I don't know, 1000s, of, of hunting camps like that throughout Michigan, where, where the animals in the herd are being protected by having this kind of land available to them.
Vince Kern 15:49
It's a fine balance between protecting something from getting shot between it because it's cute, and managing the balance of the existence of an animal. So I mean, we were talking about this in the wolves in Yellowstone is an example. What happens in an ecosystem when a particular animal just disappears?
Joe Luther 16:12
Right? Well, they actually didn't quite understand what the impact of the wolves were in Yellowstone, or really, probably in the Great West, until they had the brilliant idea to bring the wolves back to Yellowstone and, and when they did, how quickly the ecosystem change for the better. And you say, what, how can bringing wolves back, you know, a predator back to the Yellowstone ecosystem make the ecosystem better? Well, it was interesting, what they found was without predators, and and certainly they don't allow hunting and Yellowstone, then the elk herd multiplied beyond what it's supposed to, to be in a normal ecosystem. So what was happening is these elk were not being hunted by human hunters or the natural predators, and they were proliferating, and so they had this free rein, literally, to go out on the range and in, in just nibble the prairies down to a stub, so much so that, that the water run off when there was rain or snow melts, or whatever, would then Cloud the water runoff into the streams and rivers and, and that had an effect on the on the fish and, and therefore all sorts of things. But what they found, and they didn't really know all of this until they brought the wolves back, because what they what they saw within 20 or so years, was suddenly now the elk had to do what they're supposed to do, they start hiding, you know, they don't just hang out and graze at will. And they had to go up into the uplands during certain times a years. And suddenly, the grass was growing more robust, and the water runoff was more natural. And the fish population started to come back in the rivers. And then the eagle population started, all sorts of wild birds started to come back. And so the domino effect of bringing the predator back to balancing the ecosystem for these animals of prey. Really, these grazing animals really helped restore the ecosystem, kind of proving that you need predators for these animals, or you have the unintended consequence of upsetting the ecosystem.
Vince Kern 18:44
Yeah, the whole because everything's imbalanced. So these animal animals of prey evolved over the years to develop defenses, whether their eyes on the side of their head, or their fast or their this or their their hooves or they can, it's part of the natural evolution of, of being preyed upon. And so animals are evolving in that way.
Joe Luther 19:08
Animals are food, I guess, you know, some animals aren't. But really, any animal that dies is going to become food to some other animal. Typically, right, if it's not a bird, that's, you know, like a grizzly bear could die, and I'm sure that there'll be some, you know, kind of scavenger animal that will enjoy that. So, but animals of prey are ones that have evolved. And I'm not an expert in this but, but typically, you know that it's an animal of prey, given certain circumstances, like you said, it's got eyes on both sides of the head so that you know each side of the head so it can be hyper alert. Typically, the predators have eyes in the front of their face. This is typical. Another thing is more of the camouflage. Teaching and coloring, as you said, so perfect example would be rabbits that are white in the snow, and then they can turn a little brown, during, you know, the summer months so they can blend in. That's evidence of being an animal of prey that you're being preyed upon. You know, certainly, almost all birds are animals of prey of some sort, right? Bigger birds, just like fish. You know, bigger fish, eat smaller fish, bigger birds eat smaller birds. And so these animals all, you know, they, they develop certain characteristics that indicate that they are indeed, food to another animal. And, you know, another prime example is nocturnal animals, you know, their sleep habits. For instance, I learned this interesting fact that I've always remembered and, and that's the giraffes sleep and five minute intervals, and they sleep standing up. Wow. Yeah, I mean, because they're just constantly on the alert for predators. So deer do the same thing. Deer actually sleep in strange cycles with the moon or, or, or feed with, with, with the cycle of the moon, we know as hunters, that if it's a big, bright, full moon evening, that it's probably going to be very difficult hunting the next day, because those animals are smart enough to you take advantage of the of the bright light at night, and go out and, and feed in the evening so that they're protecting themselves against predators during the day,
Vince Kern 21:33
so this animals of prey thing. And let me first start by saying, I would think a giraffe with those eyes on top of its head way, way up tall could see anything coming at it. But I guess too, it takes a lot of energy, get that big body moving to get out of the way of a lion, right?
Joe Luther 21:49
Yeah. And I'm sure there's times when they're in brush and various things where,
Vince Kern 21:53
yeah, so that aside, my little rambling there aside, it's not like you walk out into the woods and just shoot a deer. I mean, this isn't something like, there's a lot of hunters that go out that that don't, don't come back with with anything, right? It's not it's not an easy thing. This isn't like just going in, I mean, excuse the analogy, but it's not like going and pulling a pound a hamburger off of the shelves. No,
Joe Luther 22:19
I wish it were that easy. Well, actually, we've broken down. You know, how much it costs to for gear and gun and ammunition and license and, and all that stuff. And then by the time you finally do if you're lucky enough to get a deer and then you get maybe 40, or 60 pounds out of that deer depending on the size. We don't like to break down how much we spent versus how many pounds we got. Because we would probably be better off going and buying some some meat on sale at the grocery store.
Vince Kern 22:52
Yeah. But this isn't something you take lightly. It's not something I mean, I know you knew for a long time you do this for as much for the health value of the meat and in the positive value of the meat. But there's also the the the part of being in nature and yeah, you know, out there being part of the natural environment. I mean, that's gotta count for something I think
Joe Luther 23:19
I told you about and I think we have it queued up and ready. But I don't know. I think it would be fun to play it as part of this podcast. There's, you know, the famous actor Chris Pratt. Oh, yeah. Chris Pratt. He has he was being interviewed. I sounds like a British interviewer. But it's one of those. I think you can find it on YouTube or anywhere. But I think we have that clip. Yeah, we do have that clip. And he he does a great job in his articulate way of describing the experience of what it's like to be in the woods while you're hunting. Should
Vince Kern 23:54
we ask if now our production guys got that? Cue that
oh, yeah, we I think we've got queued up. Why don't we can you cue that up? I want to give a quick listen to that. All right, let's
Chris Pratt 24:05
You walk out in the woods, and the sun hasn't come up yet. And you just sit in a spot and your preparation has told you that this is the right spot
in the sun comes up and you aren't in camouflage. Nothing knows you're there. Nothing can smell you the winds in your face. You're a voyeur to the world waking up, and the wilderness waking up around you in a way that no one gets to see it when they drive their car on the road because if disturbed it you've snuck in, and you're just like opening up a window to what
what the you know, if a tree fell in the woods and didn't make a sound, you'd be there to witness it. Because nobody's there, you're not even there. And then, you know, the sun comes up. Last stars that in the sky go away and the whole world comes alive. And most of the time you don't get anything and that's it's not about it's not about the kill. It's just about the journey of being there. And the work you know, I sent that it was more than bloodless. That's why I'm
Interviewer Unknown 24:59
I appreciate you sharing your sharing this much, because I've never heard articulated like that. And that's pretty spectacular, if not romantic in terms of a singular mission and adventure.
Chris Pratt 25:14
Yeah. And then there Yeah, thanks. And then yeah, then there's the inevitable remorse that you feel. I mean, like, I'm not cold blooded, don't just kill it. And then just like, not think about it, you know, like, you go there, and you see this animal creature that is, what, five years old for five years, it's been walking around these woods, and you never saw it until today, and then you decided to kill it. And so there's remorse there, you know, you're like, Oh, my God, what have I done, and you feel that, but it's combined with all these other I couldn't, you couldn't boil it down to one emotion. So you do there is that feeling of that, but and then it's gives way almost immediately to just like this grace this like thankfulness for it, you know, and then then you go to work, and then that's when the work starts, you know, you got 600 700 pounds of meat laying on the forest floor, and then needs to turn into little bags of meat in your freezer. And there's a little that's a lot of work there, you know, and then you just lose yourself. And
Vince Kern 26:09
that was fascinating. He painted quite a picture of the beauty of sitting out in nature, and the preparation and the work and I want to say just right off the front I I don't think hunting is immoral or unethical. I think this is a topic that deserves a common discussion among both sides those who would oppose it and those who enjoy it. I personally only find hunting morally offensive when I take my car to the shop in November. And and I literally had this experience I was told one time when the mechanic you have to wait a month for an appointment because of mechanics around hunting.
Joe Luther 26:52
Oh, right. Yeah. All construction zone. Yeah, everything stops. Right. That's the only problem I have with actually in northern Michigan, there are a number of counties that have
school days are free days at school for the opening day of hunting, see deer awnings?
Vince Kern 27:06
Yeah, everybody's out hunting. But but but it's, it's got to be a beautiful experience. And I think he I think he captured it pretty well. But he tried to summarize a whole lot in a few sentences. Joe, what's it like for you?
Joe Luther 27:19
Well, I love the way, you know, first thing he talked about was the preparation. And you know, like you said, he kind of glosses he touches on every point. But there's a lot, it's very pregnant with a lot of information. And the first part is this whole idea of preparation, the excitement that you have as a hunter, when you've prepared and what we do, typically is we we go into the woods, weeks months before, in my case, sometimes years before, and you get an idea of where the bedding areas are, in other words, where we're the typical place that they would be sleeping at night. And in our own property, we know over the years where it's kind of a like swampy areas, it's very difficult for predators to get into, they can hear very easily if someone's something's coming in to their bedding area, they certainly want to be in an area that, you know, they feel well protected. So we do a lot of preparation in terms of knowing where they're going to be. And we get very excited by the time hunting season comes around, because you see more preparation, more signs that you can prepare on like, like antler rubs, where the where the male deer will, you know, they have this velvety stuff on their antlers that, that they rub off on trees and saplings. And they make marks and, and so that we call those antler rubs. And in that sense, that's an indication of the buck being territorial for other bucks to understand. They're also trying to get, you know, the the fuzz off of their antlers, so, but it's a territorial thing. And so when you see that you're like, oh, okay, let's maybe this is a good area to set up a good blind or, or a tree stand or something like that. So again, that preparation takes a long time and it's in it's part of really understanding the species that you're hunting. And, and then the way he talks about you know, it's dark in the in the stars go away well, the night of the hunt, especially the opening day of rifle hunting season, but even the opening day of bow hunting season, which are two completely different things. In Michigan, opening day for bow hunting is October 1. And it is an all the way until November 15 That it's opening day for rifle hunting, but everyone gets excited about rifle hunting because then you've got a little bit more of an advantage you can see a deer further off. And that's within range of you hunting when your bow hunting and that deer has to come in very, very close to you because you The range for bow and arrow is typically like 40 or 50 yards. But, but again, what I'm getting at is, is the night before you get out, like, in the week dark hours of the morning
Vince Kern 30:15
3am Yeah, well, for
Joe Luther 30:17
it depends, it depends, you know, I don't Yeah, but you for sure by 5am and you're out there with a flashlight and light and, and depending on whether there's a moon out, it can be pitched are sometimes a little bit scary when you go down these paths by yourself, because you're here and other animals running. It could be, you know, a raccoon or whatever. But we're all concerned about black bears in the woods, and but you, you're going out there to this spot, and you're also trying to do it in a way that isn't disturbing. Whatever animals it is that you're coming at, you're in their environment. Right, exactly. And so then you finally get into your place. And just like he described, the stars start to go away and the light comes up, I've been in the woods, when there's been a frost or a or a freeze, you know, when you see the, the kind of ice coating on the twigs of the trees, and that and all at once as the as the air starts to warm and the sun comes up, that all starts melting at the same time. And it's it's fascinating, it's, it's fun to be a part of the woods when it's awakening. And I love the way he described that. And, you know, like the whole the whole idea of if a tree falls and no one's there you are, because people driving by aren't there, but you're there, you're in it, you're seeing it. And so often, you know, I'll see a lot of deer, but they're not the deer that were out there to hunt, you know, might be a doe with a couple of, you know, fawns or whatever. But you get to see, I've seen hawks hunting squirrels. Just so many things that you get to see while you are this as he described a voyeur to the woods.
Vince Kern 31:56
So it's it's a very spiritual time sitting there. Yeah, for
Joe Luther 32:01
sure. And in effect, yeah, it's not not just effectively spiritual, you are in nature. And I can tell you that it's really interesting. Sometimes you can be sitting in the woods, and you hear, you know, leaves rustling behind you. Of course, you don't want to make too many sudden moves, just turning your head around to see what it is. If you do, it could be the deer that you are hunting and, and you got spotted. So you're very quiet listening and being patient, maybe slowly turning your head to see what's going on. And after a while you you do eventually turn around and see all it's a chipmunk or Oh, it's a squirrel or, or it's a bird fluttering around on the forest floor. ventually after an hour or two of this, you start to know Oh, yeah, that's just a bird behind me, or Oh, yeah, that's something else. And so you really do, your senses become heightened. And you get to see and hear and use your senses in a way that you never do when you're in a house, right? So, for instance, one of the reasons I fancy that I'm a pretty good hunter is I am and I think humans in general, are really good at spotting movements that don't make sense. Like you can be looking at the woods in front of you. And suddenly you see, like a shadow move in a far off area that you can see that it doesn't make sense, like, Okay, if there was wind, that whole area would have been, but you just saw movement in a very specific place. And so I get very ultra focused on movements and that kind of thing. And before long, really, you are part of the forest, you really are like he said, part of the forest.
Vince Kern 34:01
So you're sitting there and I mean, let's take this, let's play this thing out on a on a on a great day, you're going to take a deer.
Joe Luther 34:14
You know, it's funny you say that many guys in our group will come in in the morning and say, I had a great hunt. And they don't have anything. They didn't shoot anything they saw, you know, Mama doe with her little ones. They saw a coyote chasing some they saw whatever there could be a whole host of things that you could see in the woods, it could be a bunch of porcupine, so it doesn't matter. But if it's an exciting, it's an exciting hunt. When you get to see wildlife that didn't know you were there. Because you're really you're really just experiencing it like it's supposed to
Vince Kern 34:53
be which is something that probably maybe that's why they shut the schools down, up and up so that families can experience that together. Well, I mean, your son, also Hans, right? You read experiences with him,
Joe Luther 35:04
you know, my dad didn't hunt. So I didn't have that experience of the intergenerational hunting, but many people who I hunt with, in fact, sadly, a good handful of the guys that I hunt with their father, you know, have now passed. But I can tell you, every time we go hunting, that, that it's just rich with either mention of their father or discussions of how their dad and they used to do it, when they were kids and that kind of thing. And that gets passed on to, you know, like you said, I have a son that hunts with me and my, my friend who I hunt with, who's my age has a son that hunts with him, and eventually when they have kids and, and it isn't just a man, you know, Father Son thing, because there's daughters out there and, and there's grandmas out there. There's all sorts of people that get out there and hunt. And there's, we I'm involved in an association. Well, it's a it's a nonprofit, that when I say I'm involved at Penn to a number of their fundraisers, and I support them, it's called passing along the heritage and, and it's a Michigan based nonprofit. And they're, it's kind of like a almost a Make A Wish Foundation for hunters. And so they will sponsor hunts for people who are wheelchair bound, you know, quadriplegic paraplegics wounded warriors, you know, even kids that, you know, come from environments where they just don't have the resources or the ability to do it. And the idea is to, to give more people this experience with nature. And in fact, one of the big concerns about hunting today is that there's less and less hunters. And you know, I think the new generation, these, this younger generation of kids, they certainly love to play virtual hunting games, but actually getting up at 330 in the morning, and trudging out in the woods, and maybe in doing little cold or that kind of thing. Not all, not all kids are as intuitive as they used to be. Because, you know, there's so many other ways, I guess, to entertain kids. And back, you know, 100 years ago, this was something that everybody looked for was your being able to, they have youth hunts, they have what they called Liberty hunts, and this is in Michigan. So youth hunt is a specific weekend where you can take us, I think they have to be 14 years older, younger. And there's all sorts of rules, but it gives them an opportunity to be successful in the woods, before everyone else goes trudging in there and scaring the animals to, you know, to hiding again. So the idea is to try and encourage today's youth to get more involved in hunting, because there's so much good that comes out of honey. And I don't even think we've covered it all yet, you know, you know, we talked about the money that's raised to help preserve the species. But one of the other things that hunters do is we provide information to the department's of natural resources or the wildlife agencies, federal wildlife agencies, I, whenever I have a particular kind of migratory bird, I send feathers to the national wildlife, what are they for what what's the purpose they're trying to determine? You know, I'm sure now that they can test things genetically, they're, they're trying to keep track of the migratory patterns of various species, they want to know if there are because they call some of them are resident species. So typically, for instance, a Woodcock is a bird that migrates, but some of them stay put. So they want to keep track of how many are stable. So it helps them manage help them with environment, we do the same thing with whitetail deer, they want to know certain things about the age of deer, and whether they have any kind of internal issues like diseases or whatever, that kind of thing. So we provide a lot of information as well as revenues for maintaining the species. And like I said, the land and, and all the various things. Me personally, our land, like I said, before, we groom that land, I put in food plots. So these are natural, like fields in the middle of the woods, that grow various things that they like, we've put in apple trees, and when I put my apple trees in, it isn't just so that the apples will fall out in the middle of the fall so that I can, you know, catch a deer that's underneath the apple tree. Funnily enough, most of those apples fall long before rifle season, but we also have species that produce apples very, very late in the season or crab apples, for instance, that they tend not to want in the regular season, but they stay on the ground and they're very robust and in the middle of the winter. That's the food that they're foraging In Florida, keep them alive in the middle of the winter. So things that we do as hunters really help preserve the herd.
Vince Kern 40:07
Sure they might die from starvation. Yeah, well, they might die from something else. Hey, do
Joe Luther 40:11
you know what the number one predator of white tailed deer in Michigan? I know, the automobile men's
Vince Kern 40:18
to automobile as we hit them with our cars more than anything other
Joe Luther 40:24
than Yeah, scary. Yeah, well, I mean, so there aren't as many we don't have any wolves, I think in the up, there might still be a few wolves, and they may have brought them back. And I think they're starting to do well. But coyotes are the most typical coyotes and black bear are the most typical predators of, of deer. And there just aren't as many of them anymore, and certainly in the metropolitan areas, and out of the suburbs of big cities like Detroit, wherever there's woods or cemeteries are, you know, you know, just like universities or whatever, that have big woods as part of their land, the deer all congregate there, there's nobody to stop them or to, you know, no predators to to reduce the numbers. And so they run around on the street and get hit.
Vince Kern 41:12
So contrasting a couple of things here, because I want to I got a question, but I'm setting it up. You've got deer being hit by cars. And you've got deer being hunted. And one is a very spiritual preparation experience. I mean, I keep getting back to it's it's not like somebody who haunts is just running out in their shorts with a gun going, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, there's a certain spiritualities like, yeah, like Christian brats. So when you take a deer, I mean, it's still gonna have an impact. When you when you when you take a deer, there's still the taking of that animal's life. Yeah. I mean, talk to me about that.
Joe Luther 42:04
Well, and that is one of the things that I thought he did. A pretty good job of describing two is, is the remorse or the gratitude, but it is both. There's something called Buck fever. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but it can happen to the best of us. It happened to me really. The last couple of times I've hunted hunted last year, it was probably one of the biggest bucks that I ever shot. No, not probably it was definitely the biggest buck I ever shot. And I knew that I was dealing with a pretty big deer. Before I even put my rifle up into the scope. It was it was the wee hours of the morning of the the first day of rifle hunting season. And just like Chris said, I had prepared for a spot that I thought might be a good one. And these are not defenseless animals. They are unarmed animals. I grant you they don't have guns and they don't shoot back. But they're not defenseless. They, they know what's going on around them. They have the greatest sense of smell and the greatest sense of sight. And I saw this thing in an area where I was kind of expecting it might be because they'd been marking some territory, and it was still kind of dark. And I was pretty sure that I was seeing a big rack on this guy's head and and my heart just was pounding like you can't believe and it wasn't pounding because I was about to have my biggest deer. It was pounded because this is a majestic animal. It's an impressive animal and like Chris Pratt said it probably five years old. And and there's a whole lot of things going on in your head when you see this. But also this animals going to die one way or another. And he had already been through the mating season. So he's already done what he's supposed to do. And yeah, it was my time to harvest that deer. And when I put my gun up I'm telling you when I went to see it with you know the scope to really get a good feel it was it was light enough at this point to get a good feel what I was looking at and I saw the big rat. Oh yeah, it's a scary it's a it's an intense moment. And and then when he said 600 pounds we've never I've never had to deal with 600 pounds of meat I must be shooting elk or moose or something. I have no idea what he's doing with all that meat. Ours is more I think the the animal itself might be 200 pounds total. Maybe a little bit more. But when when we do actually have a successful hunt at least for me. My shaman wife gave me a great present it's a it's a leather like little satchel that I put tobacco in. And tobacco is kind of like this traditional Native American way of offering back to nature when you take something from it. And so the idea is, when this animal has been taken from this environment, you don't just take it, right you Well, I mean, some people do, and that's okay. But I personally give reverence to this animal. And so I'll take out a little bit of this tobacco and, and spread it between my my hands and, and make a gesture of giving back to the ground next to this animal and, and say a prayer of gratitude, and an honor it that way. And of course, we eat the meat and we, and oh, I'll tell you, by the end of the season, if we, if our herd is really off, that's if we have, you know, just a lot of deer running around. And you know, we very often will thin the herd a little bit more and take the meat to local food pantries for people who don't have enough money for food. So there's a lot of good that you can do with it. And it isn't just as Christian, it's not a bloodless thing. It's it's a, it's a real, I guess you'd like you said a spiritual experience.
Vince Kern 46:24
Everything is connected to everything else. And if you believe that I can't imagine, you know, Native Americans used to have ceremonies at the end of the hunt for for what they've taken in gratitude. Right? It's it's not something that's new. We were hunter and gatherers at one point.
Joe Luther 46:45
Yeah, I mean, they have evidence that we have been hunting and eating meat. And we're human beings for at least 2 million years.
Vince Kern 46:51
So it's in a sense part of our culture. And I suppose you could argue that it's part of what we do as human beings, it could be set in our DNA, to some degree, the evolution of it certainly is that it's become more identified with sport than sustenance. But I don't know that that's really what motivates most, most hunters, I think most hunters are probably motivated by the spiritual experience by the connection with nature, by the food element of it. And as you've I think, adeptly pointed out, there are benefits to hunting. And so you find yourself in these situations. Yeah. And it's every year probably comes around or that inadvertent, you're at a wedding in the middle of summer, talking about hunting. And, and you know, it, I go back to what I said at the beginning, I think it's one of those situations that unless you explore it from an open minded point of view, you're gonna be, and we did a podcast on this previously about positional correctness, you're going to be set in your positional correctness, when you're dealing with the aspect of it.
Joe Luther 48:01
Yeah. And I look at I'm not saying that it's right or wrong to eat meat, because everyone has their own choice of what they want to do. I am saying if you're a meat eater, and you're an anti Hunter, you might want to maybe make it a little bit more a bit more. Yeah, I think it through a little bit more. But yeah, no, good. I think I feel like it was a pretty good discussion. I'm glad that we kind of dug into it. We could probably keep going on many aspects of what we
Vince Kern 48:36
talked about, and maybe we will in the future. Yeah, it was fun. This was a great show. And thank you for being here, listeners. And as always, as we will probably say in our outro we're definitely eager to hear your thoughts and feedback on any topic.
Joe Luther 48:52
Yes, indeed. This was a fun one.
Vince Kern 48:56
Well, so ends another episode of Friends in wonder, and we really want to thank you for listening. If you'd like
Joe Luther 49:03
to listen to more episodes, provide questions, or even suggest topics you'd like us to wonder about in future episodes. Be sure to check us out at friends in wonder.com.
Vince Kern 49:15
We'd be grateful if you subscribe, like or share this podcast.
Until next time, I'm Joe. And I'm Vince. And we're friends in wonder.