As a new year begins and the excitement of hunting has passed, I would like to say a few words to fellow islanders who hunt: before you set out, please review the rules governing hunting in Washington state, specifically on Vashon. Determining where and when you are legally permitted to hunt is just good practice. Also, be realistic about your competence with your particular weapon before attempting to kill anything; educational programs to improve your skills are available through the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Give particular attention to the hunter’s code of conduct (it’s printed in the booklet you get with your license). Among other things, it prescribes humane treatment of wildlife and courtesy to property owners and non-hunters. Exercising care when shooting is common sense, but apparently common sense is not common.
My neighborhood experienced considerable distress when, on Oct. 18, a crossbow hunter came onto private property “to retrieve a dead deer,” he said, except that the “dead” deer — a buck with two arrows protruding from him — broke cover and bolted. Then the inept hunter changed his story, telling the horrified homeowner that he was trying to prevent the deer from dying in her yard. He left by mutual agreement. Two neighbors joined the search for the wounded and possibly dangerous animal with antlers in a thickly-populated, partially wooded area. Meanwhile, the hunter trespassed on another property with his pickup truck, ran down the deer, killed it, and took it away, leaving only a scrape mark in the dirt, an arrow shaft and blood.
How long had he chased the injured buck? How many more arrows did he shoot to kill it? On a Friday morning in a neighborhood, did the crossbow hunter really get permission from a landowner to hunt? Most properties are less than an acre and most houses are visible from other homes. How do safety, respect for wildlife, courtesy, and common sense fit this scenario?
I do not wish to add to feelings of us vs. them over the pros and cons of hunting. I would, however, like to express dismay. Vashon is a rural place. My once-peaceful neighborhood is now plastered with unfriendly “No Hunting, No Trespassing” signs because it has been disrupted and violated by a hunter who flouted the rules of civilized behavior. Next year, please hunt with your community in mind.
— Carol Zabilski