Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blazed and Confused

Before I start this rant:
1- Allegrippis Trails are on federal land
2- It is legal to hunt on federal land
3- I am not a hunter but undersand others do utilize hunting as a form of gathering food and a form of sport. And fully support the act of respondsible hunting fishing etc etc.
4- Hunting seasons extend year round and cannot be defined simply by a set period of dates.
5- Mountain Biking or hiking doesn't impact the safety other users directly or remotely while participating in said sport. And also does not require other users to change there activities based on actions of others. ie. closing the entire woods to any other non hunting user.
6-Mountain Biking does not generally leave game mamed or without a head in the wild.
7- I am yet to come across a individual who maintains the Allegrippis or Old Loggers trails strictly for the purpose of hunting.

I walk my bike past a group of four white males dressed in bright orange and camoflage....seemingly contradictory. I offered up a simple "hey guys hows it going." Only to be berated by this group of fellow trail users. Although not necessarily mountain bikers these guys still were using the trail as a hiking path to stalk there game....whitetail deer.

"WTF are you out here."
"You know its hunting season."
"I've been hunting these lands for 30 years!"
"The game comission closed these trails for us."
" You cant ride here."

Well instead of being my usual bull headed and blunt self as I had no big gun and no fancy orange camo vest...I kept walking (I was however wearing bright orange jersey that was designed to be legal during hunting season.) And gave them a simple "take care."

So let me set the facts straight.

Keep in mind this group of simple minded users was indeed walking on the very trail which I work to maintain both before, during, and after hunting season. I know its hard to imagine a time when hunting isn't leagal. Never had I seen any of these users at workdays, trail related meetings, or clean-up days. I did however find more shotgun casings on the trail than clif bars, gel packets, or hiking/ biking related trash combined... in just two weeks!

 The game comission (which despite being publicly funded)  has yet to offer up signage to appropriately sign the trail as an open hunting area and it is not ever maintained as a "hunting trail." And we had to go asking for appropriate signage to protect the non-hunters out hard as that is to believe.

I personally voted to close the trail for the two week deer season.....not for the safety of the rider but for the integrity of the hunt! Sort of a good neighbor policy. Only extending the welcoming arm of the Corps which opens most their gates for hunters.

Part Two:
So after riding out on the Allegrippis Trails which are open to hunting I decided that I better not interact with anymore "trail users" and decided to ride the trails in town (Huntingdon) which are closed to hunting as it is technically in a residential district.

Instead I rode out the trails I ride year round (not just during hunting season) only to find a beheaded deer carcass strewn across the trail on land that is not legal to hunt. You'd think with so much State Game Lands and Federal lands you would have enough land to "hunt/ sit and wait." Apparently not, this large buck was shot and killed only to have its head taken to the local taxidermist as a "trophy." Not only a disgrace to hunters but also to our small town.

After continuing the ride and jumping back on the roads I noticed a large black trash bag at the entrance of the game lands. Yep you guessed it more deer carcass leftovers. Awesome! So I guess its standard practice to berate other land users, dispose of blooded carcasses, trash public land, and poach whitetail.

You might have guess I'm not supporting this whole Sunday hunting scene.

Meanwhile, "recent research suggests" $850 million would be put into the PA economy if we allow Sunday hunting. Is this really the land use that we want to see? So instead of allowing the non-hunters one day a week we are going to take all of that away from all users. How many volunteer and paid hours need to be spent to clean up after each season?

So in an effort to increase mountain biking opprotunities remember:
Next time you get a flat just pitch the tube in the woods.
Next time you have a Clif bar leave the wrapper where you ate it.
Next time you park at the trail head empty your cigerrette tray and case of 22oz PBRs in the parking lot.
Next time you go ride make sure to complain to the other users why the shouldn't be there. And if they don't listen threaten them while holding a weapon.
Next time you ride do it on trails that are band to mountain bikes.
Next time you ride make sure to put obstactles in the way of other users with the intent to injure them.
And always take more from the area that you give back!

And with all of that maybe they'll extended mountain bike season into hunting season because clearly by trashing the world in which we live we gain more respect for our government.

All users have rights to the land until they abuse those rights.
It's probably less than 30% of the users but really everyone I've happened to bump into seems pissed I exist as another land user.  


Fat Bike Racer said...

Don't let a few small minded bad apples ruin your day so much, thick skin makes for short fences.

swampboy62 said...

Honest to God, I can totally sympathize with your position. During 20 years of whitewater kayaking and mountain biking I've had WAAAAY more than my share of encounters with several of the incidents you mention. Unfortunately there is NOTHING that is going to make sport hunting go away - the best we can do is promote mtb as a valid recreational pursuit so that it will get it's full recognition and support.

Steve Z

db said...

As a trail rider and meat hunter I can sympathize with both positions. While archery hunting in college I had more than a few hunts spoiled by mountain bikers. There's nothing more frustrating than getting up at 5 am, climbing a tree far off the trail, sit motionless for 3 hours, and have your prey about to move into shooting range when a couple of mtn. bikers making a ton of noise go racing by spooking everything in the woods. But if it's public land are there are bike trails around, we have to expect and accept it, especially in archery season. The 4 white males in your story (4 guys in blaze orange on a groomed trail) don't sound much like hunters. More like guys taking there guns for a walk. The chance of them sighting a deer was probably slim to none. But even with all this in mind, it's not unreasonable for them to think, "What the hell is a Mtn. Biker doing out here in the middle of rifle season. Is he crazy?" And everyone in the state of PA knows when Rifle Season is. And most of us stay as far away from easy access trails and woods as possible to avoid becoming a statistic. It almost seems like you were out searching for this sort of drama to fuel your rant? There are many responsible hunters and 4 pissed off locals, a headless corpse and bag of animal parts does not condemn 30% of them. Statistics show that most poachers rarely hunt legally – they are simple criminals. It seems you have a very strong sense of ownership of the public trails you volunteer to help maintain and that's good. Without people like you there would be far less beautiful places for others to enjoy. So I beg you, please don't go biking in hunting areas during rifle season. It's very dangerous even before you scare someones prey away. I for one want to be able to enjoy the fruits of your trail maintaining labor for many years to come. Thanks!

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