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Hunters find a lifetime of memories behind the scope

State law mandates no waste, humane killing
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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When Mark Capik and his wife Nancy gaze at the animals mounted on their wall, it’s all of the memories that come to mind. The pair of antelope in their living room show how far the Newcastle couple has come together in hunting. Mark will proudly tell you his wife, a retired special education teacher’s aide, shot the larger one. The self-proclaimed city girl said it was all luck. When they were first dating, Nancy would meet Mark in Modoc County for hunting adventures in the woods. He would hunt the game and she’d happily carry his rifle back for him. After years of tagging along, Nancy decided she wanted to get behind a scope herself. It took a few years to win a tag in the California lottery system, but she was finally ready for her first hunt. Who better to teach her than Mark? He teaches the hunter safety course at the Auburn Elk’s Lodge twice a year, in April and August. He also grew up hunting with his father and brother. Those are some of his most treasured memories in hunting, especially now that both of them have passed away. “My brother David was a 100 percent disabled Vietnam veteran. He was awarded a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. He and I grew up together hunting — chasing elk in California and later in Oregon. My brother Dave was my partner in crime and I miss him.” For Nancy, it’s also all about spending time in the company of good people and drinking in the scenery in Modoc County around the family ranch. “It’s stark, but there’s beauty everywhere. You see the snowy side of Shasta, the postcard side of it,” Nancy said. Mark also enjoys teaching the new generation of hunters vital information. “I’m trying to make sure these youngsters learn safety and ethics and morality, so that 50 or 60 years from now they’ll have become the ones teaching others,” Mark said. Mark recommends new hunters practice by shooting small rodents, on private property where they are authorized, with a 22 caliber gun. They should also be prepared to wait a few years to get their first deer tag. Courses a Necessity Dr. Walt Drysdale, of Auburn, is in charge of teaching the course. He said aside from safety rules and regulations, the course teaches future hunters how to clean an animal, most humanely kill them, cook and survive in the woods. Drysdale, a retired orthopedic surgeon, said consequences arise from untrained citizens attempting to hunt. “It’s a multi-discipline course,” Drysdale said. “It’s not just getting a gun and aiming and shooting.” Drysdale said he doesn’t enjoy killing animals, but he does like eating the game and shooting. Wasting game is against state law, according to Drysdale. Regulations also stipulate that animals be killed humanely. “There has never been an animal that has gone extinct from regulated hunting,” Drysdale said. “I go for a clean kill, which is the least amount of suffering. I won’t shoot beyond 200 to 250 yards.” Drysdale said some people may think an animal is suffering if they don’t appear to have died instantly. Many animals continue to move for a bit after they have been shot, even if from a medical perspective they are dead, according to Drysdale. How hunting works in California Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger, works closely with the county’s fish and game commission. He said the best areas to hunt in Placer County are on private property in the Sierra Foothills, if access is granted, and National Forest land on the edges of the county. Aside from deer, Californians can find elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and bear tags among their lottery options. Deer tags are easier to come by, while being drawn for a bighorn sheep tag would be an once-in-a-lifetime experience, according to Huntsinger. Tags are also designated for specific zones. From the county’s perspective, there are some benefits to the sport. “There are a lot of benefits,” Huntsinger said. “One is economic. One example is to look at stores like Cabela’s or Sportsman’s Warehouse. It’s a big business. There is the wildlife management side, too.” The state employs biologists to research the optimum number of tags to issue each year. Some of the deer would die of starvation if it weren’t for hunting, according to Huntsinger. While there are those that support the hobby, others vehemently voice their opposition to it. Huntsinger said he has worked with people on all sides of the issue. “Animal issues are some of the most emotional issues that you can possibly deal with,” Huntsinger said. “There are people that are ardent supporters to completely apathetic, to people who are completely opposed to it.” For those who want to participate legally, passing a hunter’s safety course, buying a California Hunting License and being drawn for the correct tags are required. The organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, states on it’s website that sport hunting is no longer necessary and is inhumane: “The delicate balance of ecosystems ensures their own survival—if they are left unaltered,” PETA said through an issued statement on its website. “Natural predators help maintain this balance by killing only the sickest and weakest individuals. Hunters, however, kill any animal whose head they would like to hang over the fireplace—including large, healthy animals who are needed to keep the population strong.” Among its recommendations related to sport hunting, PETA encourages people to research where any conservation group they join stands on the issue, spread deer repellent near hunting areas and encourage legislators to enforce wildlife protection laws. Mark said that while he saw his wife shed a tear at the sight of the deer she killed on the family’s trip last weekend, hunting will continue to be a sport they enjoy. “When I am staring up at them in the evenings, it’s like I can go right back to the hunts,” Mark said. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. ______________________________________________________ Hunting Resources For more information on the hunter’s safety course offered in April and August at the Auburn Elks Lodge, call the Auburn Elk’s Lodge at (530) 888-7111, or visit auburnelks1691.net. n For more information on hunting in the State of California, call the North Central Region of the Department of Fish and Game at (916) 358-2912, or visit www.dfg.ca.gov. Not a fan of hunting? For more information on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s stance on hunting, visit www.peta.org.