2018 VBHA Scholarship Winner Announced!
Meaghan A. Looney, a 2018 graduating senior at Craig County High School, will be awarded a $1000 college scholarship by the Virginia Bear Hunters Association (VBHA) at her graduation on May 25th. Meaghan is the daughter of Ronald Michael and Rebecca Looney of Catawba and members of the VBHA. Meaghan plans to attend George Mason University and pursue a career in Environmental Science.
The Virginia Bear Hunters Association is a statewide organization dedicated to the preservation of hunting bear with dogs and to sound wildlife management principles. The Association’s annual scholarship is open to members and their families and is awarded based on academic achievement, planned course of study, community and association participation, honors and awards, and an essay.
The 2018 Scholarship Committee consisted of Freda Smith, Allen Pennington, Forest Redd, and Chairman Hunter Thrasher. The committee applied specific, predetermined scoring criteria to all applications. VBHA thanks the Committee for their work.
Following is Meaghan's essay which is in response to:
What can I do to educate others about the sport of bear hunting with hounds?
Using hounds to hunt game has always been a controversial topic, because the understanding of the hunt was not properly explained and defined. Bear hunters will always face adversity because of their sport, but if we work together to educate the public on bear hunting and appropriate hunter morality towards hounds and game, then the negative stereotype and reputation will eventually be a thing of the past.
The stereotype of not only bear hunters, but hound hunters, in general, is
skewed. To the ordinary citizen, hound hunters are a nuisance; they are always parked on the side of the road, in the road retrieving their dogs, or on posted property to reclaim their hounds. This stereotype is one of the main issues that us, as bear hunters, need to address. In order to decrease the negative name of a hound hunter, I always ask permission to enter someone's property, even though the law states that hunters have the right to retrieve their dogs without permission, it is always nice and respectable to contact the owners iust in case of negative encounter. This will also create a positive relationship within the community and improve the reputation of hound hunters as a whole.
Another major talking point of anti-hound hunters, is about the happiness of the hound. Hunting breeds have the natural instinct, and truly have the drive to hunt. They were bred for their keen senses and ability to problem solve on the hunt. While hounds enioy the indoors, they also have the need for outside interaction more than the average house dog. Not oniy because of their instinctual needs, but because of their muscle structure. Hunting hounds are iust like any other breed of dog, they are eager to please and simply enioy their job. Seeing a pup on their first tree, when everything finally makes sense to them, and they realize what their endless training was for, is indescribable. Only after witnessing this moment can someone accurately judge if hunting hounds are happy. In order to inform the public on the mental well being of the hound, I will video record the happiness of the hound on a hunt. I will also take many pictures of how the hounds react when they are in their natural hunt.
Using these tactics I will create a hunter-local relationship, in hopes to publicise the positive influence of bear hunting with hounds. The association between bear hunters and non-hunters needs to be improved and with simple communication and true exposure of hounds in their element, the negative reputation and stereotype will soon be non-existent.