Turkeys graze on new alfalfa near Wellfleet, January 2012.
Nebraskaís (Wild) Game Department is like a neighbor who doesnít fix fence, allows their livestock to eat your feed, never pays damages and dances all the way to the bank. There are turkeys in feed bunks. Self feeders for calves feed the deer.
Currently, we have the highest numbers of deer and turkeys I have ever seen. We used to make a little money raising turkeys for meat in the 1930s, now wild turkeys come right into the yard, along with deer, eat apples and flowers for free, and we can only hunt a few of them in season.
We cannot keep a flower garden around the yard; the deer come right in and eat the flowers.
Too many times, weíve seen turkeys eat newly-seeded alfalfa in fields, yet we are offered nothing for the damage from the Nebraska (Wild) Game and Parks Department.
Steady strings of deer graze on alfalfa. Itís not unsual to see 30-40 at one time. At night you might find 100 or so out grazing. Every pound they put on costs us as much as $2 in lost feed and income from our cattle.
The U.S. Constitution says the government cannot take private property without paying for it. The game departments do not follow the Constitution.
Now, a state constitutional amendment is proposed that would make hunting and fishing as basic rights, thereby limiting the Unicameralís ability to make laws regarding hunting.
Hunters need regulations
I have had gunshots on my land from reckless hunters. It is no fun to work in the country around reckless hunters. There should be a law preventing underage hunters from hunting, but there isnít.
A gunshot can be lethal a mile and a half away, but an auto accident can happen 1,000 feet from you without you hardly knowing it. Nevertheless, there are no limits on the ages of hunters, only on drivers.
Things like these are legislative issues.
Out of balance
This year, the numbers of cattle and hogs being cut back due to drought, but while feed supplies are short, wildlifers still promote more wildlife. Wildlife are the weeds of the livestock industry. Wildlife and hunting are very contrary to agriculture. Animals and birds get in crops or run through fences and create many other problems that make food costs quite a bit higher. This is not 1900. It is 2012, with much faster vehicles and multimillions of dollars of equipment out here in the countryside.
Hunting is not the answer to controlling excessive numbers of wildlife.
Some people just do not realize that agriculture is an essential industry that produces the food that stocks the grocery stores.
Remember, when you are buying food, you are paying for big grill guards on vehicles and trucks, for wasted crops and dead wildlife along the roadside. You are paying for stray shot damages to valuable property, such as an unoccupied house near my place that had the siding ruined by shotgun shots. And, you are paying for wildlife managers who questionably manage, fostering wildlife while the drought reduces the number of meat animals and food prices get higher.
These so-called managers are not using sensible and practical means to control wildlife. Initially, they caught wildlife to bring them into our areas, and it is past time to catch the wildlife and remove them, so our roads are safer and the damages to farms and feed is less, which would also help relieve the food prices.
By Joe Estermann, Wallace
EDITORíS NOTE: Deer are blamed for an Interstate-80 crash near Sidney at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22. It happened right in front of a busload of North Platte High School volleyball players. A semi-truck hit the back end of a pickup that slowed suddenly to avoid deer on the highway. A North Platte coach said he saw about a dozen deer across the highway. The pickup and the semi-truck braked suddenly, and the pickup rolled several times, according to a report in the North Platte Telegraph.
Debris from the accident flew past the North Platte High School bus, but no one on the bus was injured, the Telegraph said.