To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In reference to the June 11 editorial "Maintain ban on Sunday hunting," bow hunters are not brutes who are going to shoot "children" and "the family dog." On the contrary, bow hunters in our community are hard-working men and women who deeply appreciate the land, their communities and the game they pursue.
Most working people struggle six days a week to earn a living, leaving Sunday as the only day they have to enjoy our hunting heritage. Combined with their children's intense school schedules and activities on autumn Saturdays, Sunday is the only day in which many hunting fathers and mothers can share their passion with their children. These people are simply not going to shoot hikers, children and the family dog with their bows.
There is no conflict when bow hunters and non-hunters share the woods. The truth is that bow hunters want to be away from people, not near them. The last place a bow hunter wants to be is near a public trail where hikers, children and the family dog are going to scare away all the game within a half-mile.
Also, bow hunting is done at short distances through an open shooting corridor. Arrows don't shoot effectively through thickets or beyond 40 yards. At these distances with unobstructed views of the target, misidentifications should be non-existent.
Everyone who enjoys the outdoors should realize the tremendous financial benefit hunters make to conservation efforts. The 1937 federal Pittman-Robertson Act ("P-R") imposes a special tax on every piece of archery equipment, firearm, and ammunition sold in the U.S. The funds are specifically earmarked for conservation efforts, including habitat restoration and other non-hunting activities. This tax has raised more than $12 billion to pay for wildlife management and is credited with saving numerous species and habitats.
States are allocated P-R funds based on the number of hunting licenses each sells. Opening Sundays to bow hunting means more people can enjoy the sport, and more money will be generated by P-R and hunting license fees for important Massachusetts' conservation efforts.
To demagogue an issue using children, family dogs and NRA-bashing instead of intelligent debate may be popular with the Washington, D.C. crowd, but here in Berkshire County we have more sense than that. Hikers, recreational users and bow hunters all share a similar passion to conserve wild lands and animals. There is no reason we can't all share them in a safe and meaningful way, with our children, on a Sunday afternoon.