A few weeks ago, Mr. Dennis Tabella wrote a letter to likely every news source he could find to protest a turkey hunt for young people, supported by RIDEM and The Light Foundation. While certainly I have empathy for all living animals and respect his group, Defenders of Animals, to be a noble cause, I found Mr. Tabella’s opinions insulting to hunters, outdoorsmen/women and to parents like me who want young people to be involved in our great outdoors.
I took special exception to his criticism of parents like me.
My son has hunted and fished and camped and hiked and stargazed from lands where there were no roads for miles and cell phones were junk and he’s a better person for all that.
Mr. Tabella needs to stay in his lane.
We need more stewards of our public lands and more defenders of our rights as hunters, fishermen and conservationists.
The following was my response to his short-sighted and poorly researched criticisms. Unfortunately, I don’t have the free time that he does to get opinions published in as many papers.
To the Editor of the Narragansett Times,
While advocating for animal rights is a noble cause, he is way off course to criticize our state for being, “decidedly pro-hunter.” RIDEM provides a host of outdoors activities, encouraging people of all ages to swing fly rods, tie flies, catch and release stripers, shoot arrows, handle firearms, target shoot for sport, dress and prepare wild game and identify trees in our shrinking forests. We are fortunate to have so many learning opportunities which build perspectives on life. The non-profit Light Foundation, created by Matt and Susie Light, is guided by a mission to help at-risk young people understand the value of life, hard work and being outdoors.
Mr. Tabella’s position is on this day is narrow and poorly researched at best.
Mr. Tabella’s mission and recent statewide campaign to scold both groups and parents in general, misses the message that events like this are necessary opportunities for our next generations to experience the outdoors, learn to safely handle a firearm, to appreciate and respect the world around them and not just sit at a desk and complain. This youth turkey hunt is not solely about shooting; Mr. Tabella should spend some time in the field to realize it’s far more than that. This is time with a mentor, with a sportsman or woman who will teach young people to also be respectful sportsmen, about our rich heritage of hiking, fishing, bird watching, hunting and exploring. He mentions video games and movies but not alternatives. How does that help?
To admonish a charity and a parents decision to expose their children to something besides a video game is a worthless criticism.
Without wilderness, public lands, hunting and fishing, we’re lost sailors.
Some of us could not bear to lose that heritage of open space and adventure, of hunting and gathering, not just walking grocery aisles, but actually understanding what’s happening outside the screen door. He forgets that hunters provide food and their dollars support open space access and land purchases. Those traditions need to be passed to our children so they can decide for themselves what sport they will love.
Additionally, opportunities like these are certainly not void of empathy, in fact, that’s part of the message. Rhode Island’s overall hunter success rate is just about 12%, because turkeys are very difficult to hunt. They are careful and quiet. They have amazing vision allowing them to see 180 degrees with such clarity they will detect you blinking your eyes from a hundred yards.
RIDEM is hosting that Youth Wild Turkey Hunt on April 24 and 25 with the Light Foundation at Addieville East Farms with the support of the Turkey Chicks.
Those young people will spend far more time outdoors looking for rather than harvesting a bird. Not all who attend will decide to become hunters but all will have the experience to decide for themselves and all will certainly learn how to recognize a turkey when they hear one, or read about one in the paper.