It’s a disturbing fact of life that members of state fish and game commissions are not always hunters or anglers. A recent piece in the Baltimore Sun (“Deer Hunting Won’t Heal America’s Wounded Warriors”) shows how astonishingly ignorant and anti-hunting some can be.
E. Joseph Lamp, who identified himself as a “former member of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Advisory Commission,” is not only anti-hunting, he has appointed himself as a national spokesperson for wounded warriors who hunt. According to Lamp’s letter, “…teaching wounded veterans to kill innocent whitetail deer with bows and arrows is inhumane and should stop.” (Lamp was commenting on a previous article, “Helping Veterans to Recover with Hunting.”
Lamp further states, “…how can soldiers returning with PTSD, lost limbs, lost confidence and lost buddies heal their own physical and psychological wounds by inflicting pain and suffering on defenseless animals?”
Lamp’s irrational condemnation of hunting is bad enough, but the idea that he would deny wounded veterans the option to hunt if they want to defies understanding. Nobody forces wounded veterans to go on these hunts, and the sheer number of organized groups and individuals who conduct such hunts obviously suggests there is a legitimate demand for them.
Moreover, the veterans themselves often become leaders in taking others hunting. Consider the story that ran on nbcnews.com on August 17th (“Wounded Warriors Show Grit, Determination on Journey to Recovery”). The story mentioned Sgt. JD Williams, 25, who lost his legs and right arm in 2010 when he stepped on an IED while on foot patrol in Afghanistan. According to the article: “One of Williams’ goals was to hunt by himself again. Now, Williams not only dresses deer in the field by himself, but he recently took other triple amputees into the woods too. He also has taken up bow hunting.”
Mr. Lamp, has it occurred to you that maybe people who have sacrificed so much for your freedom deserve the right to choose their own path to healing?
For what it’s worth, Mr. Lamp, I grew up hunting in Maryland, and to me you are an embarrassment to the state. While you did not call for an end to all hunting in your article, it’s obvious how you feel, and Maryland outdoor writers have challenged you about it before. Go ask any Maryland farmer how he would feel if you stopped deer hunting. Farmers in the state already suffer about $38 million in crop losses because of deer. Ask an insurance company how many people would die in deer-auto collisions. There were more than 32,000 such crashes in Maryland last year. Ask a biologist what the effect would be on the deer population itself. And after that, maybe you should even find a wounded veteran and actually get his personal viewpoint on what hunting does for him, or her. Here’s one sample from a wounded veteran who hunted with Peterson Outdoors Ministries, a group that specializes in taking wounded warriors and disabled civilians hunting:
“I am writing this letter to all who assisted with the 2011 wounded warrior hunt. I would like to express to you my most sincere appreciation and gratitude for your efforts with the aforementioned event. My son and I had a wonderful time of bonding and just spending time together alone. I am not sure if you can even begin to understand just how much these events help the participant or not, but I can tell you that they do make a difference in our lives. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. May God continue to bless you and this great organization with continued success and growth in the years to come.”
CWO5 Bradley A. Garfield, USMC
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer
OIC, Methods of Entry School
WTBn, Quantico, VA 22134
Author’s Note: Many thanks to J.R. Absher at www.outdoorpressroom.com for pointing me toward Lamp’s article.