Friday, February 09, 2007

Absurd Texts of American History (IV)

I love the history of hunting and guns in the United States. For well over 100 years, it has led to some crazy stuff. So every now and then, I'll be giving you texts from our illustrious hunting history.

Today is an 1897 letter from a Minnesota man named Horace A. Milton to Western Field and Stream, a precursor to the modern Field and Stream. Horace opposes the idea of hunting regulations, something that was gaining momentum at this time because American wildlife larger than squirrels were all about to go extinct.

"I notice a strong tendency in this land of the free to restrict the freedom of "the hunter," and get the working class entirely shut out from the freedom of the woods, field and hills given us by our Creator. Pay $25 or twenty-five cents to hunt in any state in the "Free United States?" I shall hunt in any State I choose to and pay no tax. My father died in Libby Prison to free some of our countrymen. The farmers will charge for the privilege of hunting on their land, and the poor folks will poach on the game preserves as they do in other countries. My Janesville, Wis., paper says: 'No poor man can pay $30 for the privilege of shooting deer in this State, and they buy nothing here, and camp out, so we make nothing off them. But the rich who can pay the tax will spend $30,000 in this state.' During the open season I will hunt deer in Wisconsin and pay no tax. I am poor, and will take my eating stuff along. If arrested, I will serve my time. After released I shall devote my life to exterminating the game of any hog State that restricts the freedom of the poor. Now this is the way I feel about it. And this same sentiment will be raised in others, and the flood will come. I believe no man should be stopped from hunting where he chooses during the open season. The deed for every farm should read: 'After Sept. 1st, each year, this land is thrown open for hunting until season closes. Actual damage to owners' property to be paid by hunter at once. No game preserves or passes allowed to private parties or companies.'"