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December 22. 2013 12:02AM

Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Hunters, non-hunters need to learn to share the outdoors

WE REALIZE that many of our readers don't live in the coastal area of our great state. But we also know that with the trend of more and more non-blood-sport outdoor enthusiasts using our public parks, it's only a matter of time before these outdoors-loving people are going to come head-to-head with us who love to hunt.

What is happening at our nearby Stratham Hill State Park is a good example. It seems every year there is a move to close the game-rich area of that town park to hunting, and last year the vote to continue to allow hunting in the park was too close for comfort.

Because the park has a great system of trails, bikers and hikers and just plain walking folks have made considerable use of it -many more than the few dozen who like to hunt that ground.

There never has been a gun accident caused by hunters there but people who walk their dogs or love to hike and bike this wonderful resource are becoming more sensitive to the chance of a gun-related accident. And, for a couple of reasons, it's hard for this old hardcore hunter to have a good response to their worries.

For one thing, the first accident that happens as a result of firearm discharge is going to cast a terrible and negative impact on our hunting heritage. Secondly, the amount of people using this park keeps increasing to the point where the chances of an accident are becoming far more possible.

Now a new move to ban hunting in the park is taking place and we think it's time to visit some new thinking and to crank some creativity into the solution instead of facing a black or white ending.

Maybe what would work would be setting certain hours for hiking and biking, making safe hunting and hiking and biking possible. Or perhaps instead of an outright ban on hunting, how about a ban on the discharge of a gun within the park's boundaries during some kind of restricted hours? This would allow hunters to use the park to access other areas outside the park's boundary, which we understand is a common occurrence. And this would allow archery hunting within the park's boundaries full-time. Archery hunting is safer not only because of the lack of range but because it doesn't have the fear factor of the loud noise of a gun discharge.

These are just some suggestions but we are hoping that more creative approaches to what is going to become a common problem will come not with a yes or no vote but with some compromise on both sides of the hunt or not-hunt question.

Another thing that could be considered is the mandatory use of blaze orange clothing within the park's boundaries for all users, not just hunters. Blaze orange clothing is mandatory for hunters in some states. We know of no place where it is mandatory for other people during the hunting season, but why not? Both hunters and non-hunters should share the burden of whatever solution is used to make the multi-use of our wonderful public resources safer. It's about time that all users consider sharing the responsibility of safety in places where hunters and non-hunters share recreational lands.

Hunting is a tradition that is as old as our country. Hiking and biking are relative newcomers to the party. So let's start to think out of the box and come up with some sensible solutions to a problem that won't punish anyone but will create a much safer and enjoyable outdoors experience for all users.

Get out there and have a great time and put some new and creative thoughts in your thinking as you enjoy the wonderful outdoor resources we're blessed with in our state.

Merry Christmas to all from the Dickster!



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Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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