Bell County’s general open hunting season for white-tailed deer continues until Jan. 3.

Despite watching “Bambi,” I can’t help but endorse hunting season.

I’m sure representatives of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals might disagree, but it’s my opinion hunting helps control the deer population.

Last week a 32-year-old Temple man died after a deer smashed through his windshield.

In 2011, I was involved in an accident where the other driver attempting a U-turn veered into oncoming highway traffic and struck my car, causing it to spin across the highway and into someone’s yard.

After insurance claims declaring it a loss, I found a similar car. Less than two weeks later, a deer jumped in front of it. With traffic in the opposite lane and a vehicle behind me, I opted to hit the deer instead of veering into oncoming traffic and slamming in my breaks.

I cried that night — from anger.

I’ve personally never hunted.  Yet hunters are among the majority where I’m from, and several of friends would go during grade school.

My palate never discriminated against partaking of deer sausage or venison stew from those who hunted.

During a Lord’s Acre chili fundraiser at Nolanville’s First United Methodist Church last Saturday, someone inquired if I’ve ever tried venison chili.

Unless someone’s vegan or vegetarian in East Texas, the odds of someone having consumed deer meat once in their life are high.

In 2010, I wrote a story about a deputy superintendent who served as a “huntmaster” and certified through Texas’ Youth Hunting Program.

The following year I was invited for my first-ever hunting trip to report on.

The youth hunters all underwent youth safety hunting classes and were accompanied by adults.

From practice shooting to ensure a “clean shot,” was taken so the deer didn’t suffer, to the local game warden speaking to the youth, safe and ethical hunting was the theme of the weekend.

Coincidentally, the ninth-grader who shot the only deer that first night was the one whose father allowed me to join them on their deer stand.

After two hours and noticing the kid napping, a spike appeared. The teen waited about 30 minutes to fire until he verified no other animals were behind the spike and his dad gave him the okay.

Game wardens later spoke with the teens about the importance of managing the deer population — stating not shooting more than one buck with antlers spanning more than 13 inches ensures good genetics, and legally killing deer helps ensure they don’t starve from overpopulation.

I’m not sure what Bell County’s deer population is, but if legal, ethical hunting means one less deer is on the road, then I hope someone’s enjoying their venison stew. I’m sure some will argue hunters drive deer out of their natural habitats, but I still think hunting existed centuries before highways, businesses and homes developed as a early, primal form of a food source.

I’m sorry, Bambi.

Rachael Riley covers Harker Heights and Nolanville. Contact her at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553.

Contact Rachael Riley at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553

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