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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Deer. Fence. Venison.

I've been trying, without much success, to figure out exactly what the big deal is for those opposed to Indiana deer preserves. The state Department of Natural Resources outlawed "canned hunting" in 2005, and there is proposed legislation to allow five operations that were already in existence to continue, thus ending an eight-year-old lawsuit.

The hunting groups also criticized the preserves, saying it isn't real hunting because the farm-raised deer have less fear of humans than wild deer.

"They are domestically raised just like cattle and pigs are today," said Herb Higgins, an officer of the bowhunter association.

Rodney Bruce, owner of Whitetail Bluff near the southern Indiana town of Corydon, said the preserves didn't offer canned hunting.

"If you have a deer in a room that can't escape or in a pen that can't escape, that's totally unacceptable," Bruce said. "Our places are not like that."

Yeah, what Bruce said. It's not like the deer are tied to a stake in the parking lot and hunters get a free shot from 20 paces. The preserves tend to be over 100 acres, and they're, you know, wooded just like a real forest. Yes, the deer are tamer, so getting one would probably be easier, but whatever the circumstances, the end result is the same: Deer dies. You're either opposed to shooting Bambi or OK with it, so let's talk about that instead of getting into a pointless go-around about how "fair" hunters should be.

There's also the issue that the domestically raised deer could spread illnesses to the state's wild deer population. I confess to being less than informed on that topic, although what I know of bureaucracies leads me to suspect the possibility has been a tad overhyped.

Now, all of that having been said, let me also note that someone who wants to kill a deer that much but isn't willing to do the hard work of going on a real hunt is, well, somebody I probably wouldn't hang around with. My ancestors survived in part by heading out to pop a squirrel or possum for dinner, and no fences were involved. Fences are to keep critters outside the garden, not inside a killing zone.