Yukon letters

This week’s mailbox: Stewart River hunters, please leave your fire crackers at home

Stewart River hunters, please leave your fire crackers at home

There was an incident during our hunting trip on the Stewart River on Sept. 30. A hunting party was camped along the river, about one mile up from us. In the afternoon, we heard someone calling cow moose and rifle shots later and believe they hunted their moose. While it was still light in the evening, we believe they decided to celebrate with fire crackers or fireworks. We could hear constant blasting of 150 or more of them and rifle shots echoing through the valley, which really disturbed us. Wildlife in remote places like this cannot be immune to some degree of noise but excessive noise like this, cannot be good for them.

This hunting party had two boats. One aluminum boat with a soft canopy with an orange stripe along the sides. The other one was an open aluminum boat about 16’ and a canoe.

This makes hunters look bad and is poor environmental ethics. This is unnecessary noise pollution that has no place in the wilderness. One may argue that Yukon environmental laws do not stop anyone from making excessive noise in the wilderness. First Nations governments’ philosophy and traditional laws do not believe in this and we should respect that. Hunting ethics is also about how you conduct yourself as a good citizen. It is about using common sense and being respectful that should prevail over any laws. I believe that environmental ethics are integral to hunting ethics and should be viewed and taught that way. I have hunted lots of times on the Stewart since 1997 and observed a decline in moose and grizzly bears but more rapidly after 2013 (moose trails empty…). The wildlife in this area does not need additional stress from unnecessary noise pollution.

In contrast to this noise pollution, when I was teenager, I was acquainted with a bush-wise elder who was my mentor from my village in Gaspe. I remember how quiet this elder was during hunting and even around camp. This is when I realized how important of a quality this was to acquire. I learnt that soon enough when tracking white-tailed deer. They won’t spook from subtle noise behind them but sure will when thrashing…. I am talking about tracking deer in buckbrush, not on open farm land. There is more to this, like the response from your sight and smell are about understanding the elements around you that makes someone a good tracker because you need to think like the deer. Very interesting subject and great also for “Wildlife Listening”!! see below.

We had a special moment that speaks to this quality. We were camping at an interesting place for moose. In the evening at dark, we were settled and quiet around our wall tent. From across the creek, we heard subtle thrash and grunts from a bull moose moving slowly and closer to us. Then, he went into the water and I thought he was going to cross the creek but no! Instead, I could hear a long sucking sound and soon figured he was drinking, and gallons of it! Then he exhaled loud. He then returned to his cow who was a ways behind and calling to check on him. To experience something like, we had to be quiet not only during but also before the event as well. I treat the wilderness different than at home in terms of noise control.

When I was a teenager, I heard of a similar story of a moose drinking at dark from the same bush-wise elder. I remember vividly, what a story…. Some hunters figure out that is ok to make any noise before and during the rut because it will attract moose that are curious and looking for cows. I do not take this for granted and prefer to stay quiet and make natural noise to attract them like breaking branches for kindling or when calling.

There are moments that are more difficult to control noise, like setting up camp or taking down, but at least it lasts for short periods, is not excessive noise and becomes quiet again (early a.m. or p.m.) and good timing for calling…. If you camp by water, sound you make carries far and is worse than unnatural noise like metal or constant talking. An environment like this makes difficult to pay attention to listen and watch around.

Please, leave your urban world at home and learn about environmental ethics.

Rene Rivard

Letter to the Editor