Last updated: February 19. 2013 3:36PM - 472 Views

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Chris Denmon has a passion for deer hunting that is unmatched. He spends all year scouting them -- monitoring travel patterns, food sources and rut behavior among other things, in preparation for the fall hunting seasons.


Denmon also serves as president of the North Mountain Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association and heads the Conservation Coalition.


Deer hunting is his life.


But despite that passion, Denmon is willing to put it all aside in the wake of a potentially devastating disease that can cripple deer numbers.


Sure, bagging a huge buck will always be Denmon's goal each season, but not if it means using items that, while legal, could unintentionally deal a lethal blow to the deer herd where he hunts.


Since chronic wasting disease first surfaced in Pennsylvania last month, the debate over banning the use of deer lures has raged. The disease is spread through contact and infected animals can carry the disease for several years before displaying any symptoms.


Even worse, the prions that carry CWD are shed by an infected deer via urine, saliva or feces and remain in the ground for years, just waiting to infect another deer that simply comes in contact with the area.


That's why Denmon -- an avid archery hunter, has no problem giving up the use of urine-based scents. Experts in the state, including Pennsylvania Game Commission wildife veternarian Dr. Walter Cottrell and Penn State veterinarian David Wolfgang, have been vocal about the need to ban the use of deer urine as a lure for hunting.


As the threat of CWD spreading into the wild deer population increases, perhaps it's time we heeded their advice.


Denmon thinks so, even if it means taking away a tactic that is often the reason behind a successful hunt.


As a steward of the land and the resource, it's only prudent, Denmon said of the call to ban deer lures. If it means saving the herd as opposed to me shooting a buck, I'm willing to do that.


So should every hunter.


Denmon said a successful hunt can still be had via increased scouting, using grunt calls and rattling antlers and opting for synthetic scents instead.


The problem with deer lure is there's no accountability to ensure it isn't contaminated. Doe urine is the most popular attractant, used to bring in mature bucks especially now as the latter stages of archery season overlap with the rut. The urine is collected at deer farms across the country - farms that could have deer infected with CWD. The thought that it could be sold right here in Pennsylvania and poured onto the ground -- thereby spreading the disease to another area, is downright frightening.


But a ban won't be easy. Deer lure is big business, and when money's involved, change is hard to obtain.


Even if it's the right thing to do.


Sure a ban would hurt the industry, but it would hurt the industry even more to lose the deer to a disease, Denmon reasoned.


He's right.


After all, if CWD spreads into our wild deer herd, it not only will take deer with it but hunting as well.


And this is one area where money is on our side.


Deer hunting is big business in the state. Schools close, vacations are scheduled and rural businesses reap a financial payday from the droves of hunters that come to the area.


Deer hunting in Pennsylvania is far too big, and important, to risk losing to a little bottle of urine.


Denmon's ready to do what's best for the resource and hunt without the aid of deer scents.


The rest of us should follow his lead.


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