Into the Woods

Meet the students who take the food on the table into their own hands.

Carley Spading, Reporter

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For most Americans today, the word ‘food’ holds no connotation other than a package of meat and a bag of chips from the local grocery store. There’s no effort other than the exchange of commodities at the cash register. There’s little wondering of where it came from. But for some, there’s a little more to food than shopping carts and isles.

“I’ve followed my grandpa hunting since I was like seven or eight but I didn’t start hunting myself until [I was] like nine or ten,” said Ashleigh Rensing, freshman. Rensing holds hunting in high regard in her life. “Being able to hunt your own food, being able to sustain yourself [is important].”

With ample forests and food sources, Iowa is home to a wide array of game animals such as deer, turkey, and pheasants, as well as a host of established hunters. Many are simply the latest in a long line of family hunters while others are a more recent addition to the practice. Either way, hunting is not as simple as grabbing a gun and heading into the timber.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is in charge of managing the populations of hunted animals, as well as keeping track of the number of registered hunters. For each species, there is either a set number of tags given out for the state and county, or there is a set number of animals allowed to be harvested per person, known as a bag limit.

“Some people see it as animal cruelty, some of us see it as there’s an overpopulation,” said BJ Jones, sophomore. “[The animals]  will reproduce and there are seasons to keep it so that they are producing.”

Seasons are set calendar dates that are available for hunting certain species. Killing an animal outside of its designated season is considered poaching, and can lead to fines of several thousand dollars.

Throughout much of America, the number of native predators that normally keep the populations of other animals in check have been mostly depleted, resulting in an altered balance in the ecosystem. That is where modern hunters come into play.

Though hunting is often a controversial practice, today’s hunters are still committed and confident in their motives.