Appearing before Texas lawmakers on Wednesday, Detroit-born rocker Ted Nugent lobbied against a proposal to ban the hunting of pen-raised white-tailed deer until they’ve been out in the wild for 60 days.
“I hunt and fish and trap 320 days a year then the rest of the year I rock and roll like a complete idiot,” he told a reporter for Austin Fox News affiliate KTBC-TV.
Current law in Texas sets hunting season for white-tailed deer as beginning Nov. 3 each year, and ending in January. As the laws are designed to protect the interests of hunters by ensuring there’s a chance every year for the deer population to replenish, the release of pen-raised deer is a closely regulated enterprise that’s only permitted during the off months.
The cap on hunting pen-raised deer begins 10 days before the season, which deer breeders say is vitally important to give the creatures time to acclimate and survive in the wild before being killed. The practice is often preferred by hunters with access to fenced-in hunting ranges, and many times a much longer waiting period than just 10 days can be advantageous because it gives deer a chance to spawn antlers.
H.B. 2433, by state Rep. John E. Davis (R), is looking for formalize that sense among deer breeders and hunters by extending the waiting period for hunting pen-raised deer to 60 days, and that’s got Nugent, who lives outside of Houston, hopping mad.
The Republican’s proposal does not change the dates of deer hunting season, but instead prevents the practice of using deer for “canned hunts” — an activity popular with non-hunters like former Vice President Dick Cheney (R), who was reportedly slaughtering quail that had never learned how to fly when he accidentally shot his lawyer in the face in 2006.
For quail like those Cheney was hunting, they’re raised in small pens often with their wings tied down, leaving them to scatter across a field and take shelter under whatever foliage is available when they’re released. For deer, the process is even more alarming, making target practice out of bottle-fed baby deer bred to be larger than normal through selection and intravenous drugs.
The Texas Deer Association notes that if not handled with care, given adequate hydration and kept out of stressful situations, many pen-raised deer die in the days following their release. In addition to being cruel, experts say the practice also risks the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, a variant of Mad Cow Disease that has a 100 percent kill rate for deer.
Nevertheless, Nugent appeared Wednesday before lawmakers on the Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism committee and told them they were considering nothing short of an assault on his own personal freedom and the status of Texas as a popular hunting and fishing destination.
“Texas has such a glowing positive reputation for the world’s leader in wildlife management success and family hours of recreation and just incredible lifestyle and industry that I want to make sure we eliminate as many obstacles to that as we can. Texas should stay the leader and we shouldn’t be like California and Illinois,” he reportedly said.
Confronted after his testimony, Nugent added some commentary about his other favorite issue, gun control. “I have the right to self-defense and some mayor in New York City can’t tell me how many bullets I might need,” he told KTBC-TV. “It’s a very important freedom issue. It’s all about freedom. It’s not about fire power, it’s about choice, freedom and never being forced into unarmed helplessness.”
This video is from KTBC-TV, aired Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
David Edwards contributed to this report.