By Michael Georgino
The previous FE article on the Catalina Island mule deer “cull” brought the topic to my attention. At first glance I obviously wanted to take the side of helicopters and sharpshooters over cat ladies, but one thing kept me speculative: these are California elected officials behind this plan. If I know anything about California elected officials, especially in Los Angeles County, it’s that they hate hunters, guns, and any form of masculinity.
As someone who was born and raised in “the other California,” I have seen a lifetime of the decision makers in LA and San Francisco continuously fail the citizens of this state—most notably the farmers, oilfield workers, and outdoorsmen. I also know that when this state does something “in the name of conservation” it always negatively impacts these groups. California has many of the best hunting opportunities in the country, but the state has a long and consistent track record of taking them away. It started in 1972 when they banned mountain lion hunting. We have no shortage of cats in California, and it is reflected in the decline in quality of our deer herds. In 2020 they banned bobcat hunting for no particular reason, and every year attempt to end our black bear hunt when the quota for bear tags is never met. If the state really cared about conservation, they would allow proper predator management. If they cared about pollution, they would execute prescribed burns instead of allowing deadfall and old vegetation to accumulate exponentially, inevitably resulting in the massively polluting wildfires. But now they want us to believe they care about invasive species? Yea, right. This is the same government that makes us buy special tags to hunt pigs.
As I reflected on this and investigated, I quickly found that this was not a cull to lower the numbers to a manageable amount, but an eradication to lower the number to zero. They even informed the local outfitter that the time was coming for him to close up shop because there would be no more deer to hunt. The plan is similar to the 2011 operation that systematically executed the herds of 1,100 trophy elk and mule deer on Santa Rosa Island. The state decided that they no longer wanted hunting on the island, so they took matters into their own hands and wiped out the entire population. Now the Catalina Conservancy wants to do the same thing. They mask their plans to end hunting behind conservation. They claim that the island’s plants and soil cannot sustain the deer that have been there for nearly 100 years, but the invasive animals and plants that are not trophy-hunted are not being eradicated anytime soon. Instead of increasing hunting opportunities for residents and trying to get more of our state’s youth and veterans in the field, they opt to put hunting entirely in the government’s hands. Why wouldn’t they? California hunters like me and my buddies aren’t the ones who voted for them anyways.
While I hate to take the side of the cat ladies, we may have to use our enemies to our advantage and hope that their obnoxiousness helps us keep our deer hunting opportunities in Southern California. The libs in charge will listen to them way before they will the hunters. Further, all you have to do is look up the expert behind this plan to see that she has got to be a cat lady herself. Her electric Subaru is a dead giveaway.
So, are the deer bad for plants and dirt? Probably a little bit, but who really cares? If the conservancy did, they would also be destroying all the invasive eucalyptus and killing the buffalo herd. The deer have been there for nearly a century and the island still looks great. I was just there and saw no shortage of incredible landscape. Should we kill more of these deer? Also, yes. But I want hunters to be the ones doing it; the government’s paid professionals shouldn’t get to have all the fun. Am I biased because I have friends who got their first bucks on Catalina, I love the tradition of hunting on the island, and am trying to book a hunt there myself (an opportunity that will be taken away if the eradication goes through)? You bet your ass I am. But I think we should all be biased towards keeping as many deer hunting opportunities as possible, especially in California where hunters are truly the last of a dying breed.
At the end of the day, who ever sat in a dive bar or around a campfire and told stories about topsoil erosion on an island that doesn’t even have farming? Exactly. No one. So, let’s keep on hunting deer in the middle of the ocean, because that is something to talk about.
Editor’s note: Lead image created with AI