It’s like an undercurrent in the country among hunters, particularly bowhunters. They want to know why their state legislators will not allow them to carry a firearm for personal protection while they are in the woods hunting.
I have witnessed some of this attitude, this distrust, displayed by my own state’s conservation department a few years ago, when I attended a concealed carry rally at the state capitol rotunda, and heard hunters wondering among themselves whether the state would allow them also to carry concealed while hunting – regardless of whether it was bow or rifle season. In fact, as an editor of a non-profit organization’s newsletter for the state, I voiced this concern in my editor’s letter in the next issue. Within hours, an ombudsmen for the Conservation Department contacted me and told me it was “unfortunate” that I had written about that topic.
To which, I informed him that as far as I was concerned, the First Amendment was still being observed, regardless of what the wildlife codes of the state dictated.
Let’s just say it went downhill from there, with yet another call from a spokesman from the department who actually said, “Barb, you are carrying a rifle or shotgun, you don't need a pistol.” Last time I trained for defensive shooting purposes, I did not train with a long gun. Rather difficult to conceal and also, not the point.
When you hunt in rural areas, you might encounter illegal activities in the woods. You may have to protect yourself or your family. Three turkey loads in a shotgun might do the job. It might not.
Maryland currently is proposing that bowhunters may carry an exposed handgun while hunting. The bill, however, does not allow hunters to carry handguns that might be used for hunting. Mostly, though, the purpose of the bill is to allow hunters protection against … bears. But, not with handguns that would be large enough caliber for hunting.
Currently, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources advises hunters to “retreat and make noise” when encountered by a bear.
Unfortunately, we all know that the aforementioned method doesn’t always work to scare bears and rarely works for meth-heads or other miscreants on two legs in the woods.
I am calling for trust. I am asking for our government to stop suspecting the worst of us, and to assume that because we are carrying a personal defense pistol that we are itchy to shoot at something, or willing to kill an animal illegally.
Do you think you should be able to carry a firearm for your own protection – concealed or open – while hunting?
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Brian Lovett, Realtree's news blogger, has been an outdoors reporter, writer, magazine editor and book author for 27 years. Spring turkey hunting and autumn waterfowling take up most of his outside time, but he also enjoys fishing, deer hunting and upland-bird hunting. Lovett lives in Oshkosh, Wis., with his wife, Jenny, and their retriever.