1. Tim
    Tim December 18, 2021 at 10:08 am | | Reply

    This was great. I live in the western part of the state and I am not a hunter but I’ve always been interested in hunters in Vermont. It was good to hear about it from a wildlife biologist’s point of view. I worry some that there are well meaning factions in Vermont that make a lot of assumptions about what is right or wrong for other people, without actually knowing the people theyre making judgements about. The hunters I know are passionate about protecting wildlife like Will is and have long ties to the land they hunt on. Sure there are the twisted tea/bud lite hunters that probably give everyne a bad name, but I think it would be good if everyone could judge less and ask more questions.

    1. Wondercabinet
      Wondercabinet December 21, 2021 at 7:11 pm | | Reply

      I like this guy. I have been tuned in to this conservationist hunter culture since moving to West Virginia and it is something that people need to exposed to. So thank you for your wonderful (as usual) show!

      Also: It is incredible that even down here there are Bud Light/Twisted Tea hunters! They must market to that demographic

  2. Louis Porter
    Louis Porter December 19, 2021 at 9:14 am | | Reply

    Wow! What an incredible piece of audio journalism. Thank you, Erica and Will!


  3. phil gentile
    phil gentile December 19, 2021 at 11:38 am | | Reply

    Thank you Erica for another insightful post. Will is such a thoughtful person who so simply and eloquently shared his philosophy on connecting with the Vermont landscape. Although I’m not a hunter, I would relish the opportunity like you had to spend time with Will. Let us hope he continues to mentor others with his incredible knowledge of biology and the great outdoors.

    1. Michael
      Michael December 20, 2021 at 12:27 pm | | Reply

      I just want to say that whenever I hear Erica’s voice pop up on my podcast feed, I am instantly filled with a calm feeling of being at home. Your work is so poignant and comforting. Thank you so much!

  4. Rodney Elmer
    Rodney Elmer December 20, 2021 at 11:31 am | | Reply

    A Real modern day Lorax. A person, white nature, that wants to play an infinite game. Who understands the importance of unity among people and nature.A real man who understands the difference between a natural working system and resentful desires.

  5. Paul
    Paul December 20, 2021 at 3:24 pm | | Reply

    What a great interview, as always! Personal and informative, Taking us down unexpected roads to explore.
    I’m both a hunter and a green weenie. As Will said, not an easy place to be. Glad there are people like him keeping the finer points of balance.

  6. Susan Ritz
    Susan Ritz December 21, 2021 at 11:24 am | | Reply

    What a great show! I didn’t know there was so much animosity against hunters. I guess long ago, when I first came to VT in the 70s I didn’t understand it either. But I recently found myself vociferously defending the tradition to my very ant-hunting daughter-in-law from Seattle. Though I’m not a hunter, I know many now. I hear them say the same thing Will did. It’s about being part of the woods, observing in such a different way, being present to the wonder of the world around them. My Republican relatives were all hunters and anglers back in Minnesota. They were also the staunchest conservationists I’ve known. Their love of the woods and the streams ( and dogs!)began many of the organizations now fighting to protect habitat.

  7. maureen sullivan
    maureen sullivan December 23, 2021 at 12:01 pm | | Reply

    I had the good fortune to meet Will many years ago when he was working as a biologist for Champion Paper in Pittsburg, NH. He gave me great tips on where to hunt in the Magalloway area. I share his dismay at the lack of tolerance in the region today. As someone who has hunted with a great bird dog I could hear the sadness in his voice as he described the loss of his hunting partner. Will is the epitome of a sportsman and a woodsman. As I listened to this episode I was reminded of when Will discovered a breeding population of lynx in a protected region of wilderness in the NEK. It is through the advocacy of men and women like him that have made that win possible. Bravo Will, may you walk the ridges for many years to come.

  8. Chris Rice
    Chris Rice January 28, 2022 at 10:28 am | | Reply

    I have done a lot of walking about in Essex county. My favorite time of year is winter on snowshoed. I don’t hunt. Common sense tells me that hunting interrupts a natural interconnected co-evolutiinary cycle. I’d agree with much of what Will says about intolerance. I do think his embracce of hunters as The defenders of wildlife is a limited perspective. Appreciation of the necessity of preserving wildlife on state land doesn’t require hunting if you view it as an exogenouse force on a already self regulating system. Mind you there are worse outdoor activities – ATVs, mudder trucking, dirt bikes. But gone are the times when hunting was necessary for putting survival food on the table. In my view, going forward it would be better for the fauna and there habitats to “take only pictures and leave only footprints”.

  9. Bill Sargent
    Bill Sargent January 28, 2022 at 10:49 am | | Reply

    Great job.
    Will’s the real deal. Always has been.
    His thought mirror those of many Vermonters who are seeing rapid change and threats to the life styles, and traditions that are so important to us.

  10. Katherine Verman
    Katherine Verman January 28, 2022 at 10:58 am | | Reply

    Excellent, thought-provoking conversation – such a beautiful man. And great questions. Thank goodness there are Will Staats in our world.

  11. r smith
    r smith January 28, 2022 at 4:02 pm | | Reply

    Intelligent hunters don’t take more than is healthy for the species. I can relate to his description of the yuppies as so many people are moving up here and buying land and building ridiculously huge houses. Then they post their land and put up big gates. Song birds have declined by 25% and wildlife will as well. The last two times I saw a bear with cubs near my house they were eventually killed by the end of the summer due to being a nuisance. People leave garbage out and put compost in their yards. I’d be happy to come to any of these hearings for developments if I knew about them

  12. Bill Westervelt
    Bill Westervelt January 28, 2022 at 6:06 pm | | Reply

    This was a pleasure to listen to. Will is a thoughtful guy and I’m glad you sought him out.

    One part that struck me was the idea that if you are a hunter you have some kind of “special relationship” with the forest. That’s a ridiculous premise. I spend a ton of time in the woods and have many special places I would fight hard to protect just like he would.

    Keep up the good work bringing these and other kinds of perspectives.

  13. Kim Findlay
    Kim Findlay January 28, 2022 at 6:10 pm | | Reply

    Interesting piece. This man is certainly a one-off. I appreciate his appreciation for nature and the environment. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that because he’s hunting, he has more of a connection to the land/place. I also think he took one comment out of context. A man who runs hounds did make a negative remark about African Americans and that was why there was a white supremacist comment. Also, there is a difference for most people between rifle hunting in season for something you are going to eat and other types of hunting that happen in this state. Crows and coyotes are killed wantonly. Hounding is a kind of terror for bears that may have young or be pregnant as they are run for miles and cornered, or treed. Hounds are not always under control and have harmed people’s pets and trespassed. Trapping is a cruel way of capturing an animal and often traps animals that the trap was not intended for, including people’s pets. My point is that it is not that simple to say people are against hunting. It is a wide ranging conversation. This is one man’s opinion, there is much more to it than that.

  14. Rick Cowan
    Rick Cowan January 29, 2022 at 8:55 am | | Reply

    Comment: Hi Erica,
    Although your interviews may not be intended as balanced and factual journalism, I was deeply troubled by the platform you gave Will Staats for presenting inaccurate and hurtful statements about those of us who view Vermont’s bears and bobcats as animals to be appreciated rather than killed. “Those people just hate hunters…” is so very untrue. It is we of the wildlife protection movement who are the frequent recipients of hateful comments and violent threats from hunters and trappers. In his idyllic depiction of hunting bears with hounds on that beautiful ridgeline, Will neglected to describe how such hunts end. If the hunter doesn’t get there first, the pack of hounds will attack the bear , sometimes tearing it to pieces. If the bear or bobcat has escaped to a tree, the hunter simply shoots it from a few feet away. The hounds are monitored on tablets or cell phones via radio collars as they chase terrified, tired and sometimes pregnant bears and bobcats for miles through the woods. The dogs themselves often suffer serious injury as the wild animal attempts to defend itself. Most of the cubs and kits orphaned by this recreational activity die of starvation. And the claim that radio-collared dog hunts represent an historic Vermont tradition is absurd. The GPS gear that enables this “sport” is no more than 20 years old.

    To accurately explore this cultural divide, don’t you think hearing from the other side is important? I’m sure that Brenna Galdenzi of Protect Our Wildlife VT would be glad to walk around the woods near her home with you to describe the pleasure she experiences from viewing wild creatures in their habitat.

    Rick Cowan
    Rockingham, VT

  15. robert porter
    robert porter January 29, 2022 at 3:45 pm | | Reply

    Hi Erica,
    I think you got it just right. Nature, wildlife, it is an abstraction to a lot of people, an ideal, but one they mostly don’t care about except as a cause or to judge other people or to feel a few minutes of guilt when they run it over on the interstate, but mostly they don’t have an hands on connection like Wil Staats does. I think he stated it perfectly and you really got it. When he was talking about the ridge and the connection a person has because of hunting up on the ridge is something a lot of people don’t understand, and you really presented it well.

  16. Mike Covey
    Mike Covey January 29, 2022 at 4:44 pm | | Reply

    This is an excellent piece, and the vulnerability, love, and connection to his dogs, the hunt, and the land itself are reflected in voices across the state. We are fortunate to have this community in Vermont, and fortunate to have at least a couple journalists who want to hear that side of the story when the anti-hunting lobby works so hard to dehumanize and marginalize these members of our communities. This becomes a moving, living narrative that reminds us that whether or not one understands or approves of hunting with canine companions, the members of the hounding community are human with all the joys, sorrows, and passions that entails, and that, ultimately, their lifestyle and values are legitimate, meaningful, and worthy of our respect.

  17. Gerri
    Gerri January 31, 2022 at 7:32 pm | | Reply

    I really enjoyed this program. There is something magical about being in the woods. You don’t want to leave. I hunt with a camera so I can’t relate to the hunting part, but I agree that all the groups need to come together to protect habitat and wildlife corridors. We have contributed to the non-game fund every single year, and we saved for over a decade to buy land so we could conserve it. It is a drop in the ocean when you look at how much land we are losing to development every year, but that is what we could do. The whole notion of “anti-hunting” is a strawman. People aren’t anti-hunting. They are against what hunters themselves refer to as slob hunting. They are against excessive trespassing and reckless behavior. They are against abuses that are committed in the name of recreation and thrill-killing. I think most people would leave their land unposted if it were only deer, turkey, and bird hunters coming around. When coyote hunters decide to show up with their GPS-collared hounds at all hours of the day or night 365 days a year, then I think you are asking for too much from the public and from land owners. It is stepping too hard on other people’s rights. It is also not what I would call honorable hunting. Most people are simply asking for more balance, although I can’t speak for the people who move to the country and then don’t like anything about it. We can only hope they will change their minds or move back to the city.

  18. Kerry Edmunds
    Kerry Edmunds February 3, 2022 at 11:03 am | | Reply

    I also agree with protecting wildlife habitat and I get the same feeling of magic when I am out in the woods daily and wish all groups would work together because our lands are being swallowed up by development of housing, etc., and solar fields and even thousands of acres of corn; so many ways our lands are becoming less diverse and occupied. My husband and I both grew up in hunting families and the men hunted to eat but it was once a year. When deer season was done they put their rifles away. Hunting is different today, it is year-round, night hunting, there are no bag limits. We lived in Central Vermont and never saw hounds until we moved a little further north and they were here every day and every night. We asked them not to hunt with hounds on our land and were harassed by having dead animals thrown in our driveway, had hounds repeatedly released on our land, etc. We had skunks and foxes and raccoons and porcupines shot by guys just driving down the road just because they were out foraging within eyesight. My husband stopped deer hunting. He got a sour taste in his stomach and lost respect for hunters when hunters lost respect for the skill of hunting and the animals they hunted. This is not how we were raised and we don’t support it. None of our friends would hound or trap or participate in nonfair-chase practices, none of our friends would torment or torture a coyote or fox or bobcat just because they are predators/scavengers. And I am appalled by the name-calling and generalizations of this interview. It has nothing to do with where you are from. It has to do with respect and dignity. It is not antihunters versus hunters. It is hunting versus slob hunting. This is why land is posted. If you understand the issues you will understand the truth. I don’t know of a single landowner who would not let a respectable deer hunter hunt their land in the fall and this is true for native Vermonters or residents who have moved here from other states. The issue is not about where you are from, it is about the behavior of hunters and this is why changes are being asked for.

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