To the Point for 1/26/2006

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THERE’S A BILL IN THE Indiana Legislature that Switzerland County’s Jack Remington brought to my attention late last week; and it’s a bill that all residents of this county need to be aware of — and try and defeat.

House Bill 1349 passed through the Natural Resources Committee of the Indiana House of Representatives last week by a 13-1 vote. The lone state legislator who had enough sense to see the danger of this bill? Our own Bob Bischoff.

The bill will allow people in Indiana to create hunting preserves in the state for the purpose of killing deer.

Notice I didn’t say “hunting” deer.

Here’s the way this works:

Some guy buys up some land and puts a really high fence around it. He then goes around the country and buys deer with big sets of antlers and hauls them back to Indiana.

Once here, he sticks them in a pen, and then advertises that he’s got deer available for hunting.

Some dude with several thousand dollars to blow checks out this guy’s website, and sees a deer in a pen that he thinks would look really good mounted on his den wall.

A call is made, a credit card is given; and the hunt is on.

Here’s how that goes:

Just before the “hunter” (and I use this term loosely) arrives; the owner of the “preserve” (isn’t that an ironic term?) goes in and gives the chosen animal a sedative. The deer is then picked up with a front end loader, and is taken to an area that is surrounded by a fence high enough that the deer cannot escape.

The hunter then enters the fenced in area; does his “big hunt”; shoots the animal; and gets his photo taken with his kill (trophy photo at no extra charge). Arrangements are then made for the trophy to be mounted and shipped to the hunter’s home.

In many instances, the sedative given to the deer renders the meat unedible — but I don’t think the guy cares much about that.

Some amendments offered by lawmakers required that a deer shipped in from out of state be protected for at least 10 days before it’s shot, giving it time to become acclimated to its surroundings.

Another asked that at least 40 percent of the “hunting area” provide ground cover for the animal.

Remember: the whole area is surrounded by a big, tall fence — so the deer’s can hide all it wants, it’s not going anywhere.

Think this all sounds crazy?

A “preserve” near Peru, Indiana was shut down last year; and at the trial that followed, a lot of celebrities and other hunters testified that they had been to the business.

County singer Ronnie Dunn of “Brooks and Dunn” testified that he paid $25,000 for his deer; and another $15,000 for his son’s.

Kind of gives the phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?

So what’s it mean to you? Well, if hunters can go to these preserves near their homes and custom order their kill, they won’t be driving down to Switzerland County anymore to deer hunt; and if they don’t come, that means fewer dollars for county businesses.

It also means less deer killed here, which means more in farmer’s fields and resident’s gardens and driver’s grills.

To their credit, true sportsmen around the state are opposed to the bill, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources already has a law against this practice; but this bill would overturn that if it becomes law.

The bill is expected to be voted on by the House of Representatives soon, perhaps later this week; and insiders in Indianapolis feel that the bill has a good chance of passing out of the House.

If that happens, then the bill would move to the Indiana Senate, which could kill (pardon the pun) the whole thing by not approving it.

As things stand now, that is the best chance of getting this mess cleaned up.

What can you do? Call a lawmaker.

Call Bob Bischoff and tell him ‘thank you’ for standing up to this mockery; and then give State Representative John Ulmer of Goshen a jingle. He’s the lawmaker that introduced this bill in the first place.

Call State Senator Jim Lewis and Johnny Nugent and ask them to get busy lining up opposition to this bill should it make it to the Senate.

Call Mitch Daniels and tell him that should it make it out of both Houses, he should veto it.

I’m not a hunter, but I have friends that are. None of them thinks that this in anyway represents the “sport” that they love. They want the trophy that hangs on their wall to come with a great story of struggle and cunning — not with some tale about tracking it across an empty lot until it was pinned in a corner.

This isn’t sport and it isn’t fair. It’s senseless and it needs to be stopped.

And we need to stop it.