1. Hunter safety and proficiency handling firearms have improved dramatically over the last thirty years, as shown in hunting-accident data. Hunting is an incredibly safe activity in which to participate. The average total number of hunting incidents throughout the last decade has dropped to about ten, down from about 35 during the 1960s. Statistics compiled by the National Safety Council show hunting is safer than most outdoor activities.
2. Records dating back to 1949 show that in the last fifty years, elk hunter numbers have increased nearly tenfold, yet hunter success has not changed much. In the 1950s, the Division of Wildlife sold about 26,000 elk licenses each year, and around 28 percent of those hunters were successful. In the 1990s, over 200,000 elk licenses sold each year, with a 21 percent hunter success rate.
3. The data cited above may demonstrate a "rule of diminishing returns." Comparing the individual game-management units to the statewide hunter harvest data shows that in units where hunter numbers were low, hunter success was as high as 67 percent in 1999! Are hunters in those units super-competent?
4. Snowboarding, skiing and hunting are all dependent on the weather. Last fall was one of the mildest on record. I wore short-sleeved shirts through most of the hunting season and never wore a coat! Snow and cold not only bring about physiological and behavioral changes in animals, they also make tracking and stealthily moving about easier.
5. Hunting allows those of us who choose to hunt the opportunity to participate in the most primordial of natural processes. I am not sure why others choose to hunt, but I imagine that their reasons are as complex and personal as my own. Hunting enriches each of our lives differently, and those who do not hunt do not understand. Hunting is not about killing. So, do I take umbrage with the presumption that if I choose not to kill, I am incompetent? You bet I do!
Vocal local: Westword is unfortunately the only "paper" in town that provides a wide variety of local music reviews. Why is it that the local press always makes weird comments about local bands? I never include a Westword review in my press kit. For one thing, whenever I release a new CD, Westword finally reviews the one I released the year before -- it's happened twice! And in Westword, I have been compared to artists I sound nothing like.
My CDs are played and sold around the world: To everyone else, I am just a musician, not branded a "local" musician. For one thing, I've only lived here for three years, but my songs have been on the radio for fifteen years. If some chart-topper like Springsteen or some other popular musician moved here, would they be treated as "a local"?
Name withheld on request
Sophomore slump: To Laura Bond and the other reviewers: Why is an artist never allowed to record or release a second album? It's always a "sophomore" album. Since the late '60s, at least, record reviewers have been using this term to sound sophisticated. Well, it's hackneyed. Let some bands put out a second album for a change. They seldom refer to a first album as a "freshman" album and never refer to a third of fourth album as "junior" or "senior."
And why does everyone say "The Westword"? On the front of the paper, it just says Westword. "The" Westword bugs me. It's just Westword.
Name withheld on request