Skip to comments.Year after Wisconsin killings, Hmong hunters eager for new season
Posted on 10/28/2005 5:52:08 PM PDT by ButThreeLeftsDo
When Tong Yang goes hunting, he's looking for fun - not for trouble.
Yang has spent many an evening this fall perched in a tree stand, hoping a trophy buck would come within range of his crossbow. When does pass below, as a pair did during an outing in the woods here last week, he's not interested.
"Just be patient for another time," he said. "The trophy (bucks) are very smart. ... That's how they get to be a trophy buck."
As Minnesota's firearms deer season draws near, Yang and many other hunters who are Hmong say they have no fear of returning to the woods despite last year's confrontation between a Hmong-American and white hunters in nearby Wisconsin.
Chai Soua Vang, of St. Paul, was convicted last month of killing six hunters and wounding two others after he was chased off their deer stand on private land. Vang told police one of the white hunters used ethnic slurs, and the case took on strong racial overtones.
Soon after the shootings, hate literature showed up in a Hmong neighborhood in St. Paul. A store in Mankato introduced "Save a Hunter, Shoot a Mung" bumper stickers, and a white man spray-painted "killer" on the homes of three Hmong families in Menomonie, Wis.
During Vang's trial, a group of Hmong observers monitored the proceedings for fairness, saying they felt their whole community was on trial.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are home to about 100,000 Hmong. Many of them, in part because of a long tradition of hunting in their ancestral homeland of Laos, have embraced deer hunting here.
Tong Vang, a community liaison for Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources, said he expects no drop-off when Minnesota's firearms deer season opens Nov. 5 (Wisconsin's opens Nov. 19). He said he's heard of no confrontations or harassment since the archery deer and small-game seasons opened Sept. 17. And he said he's told people who have expressed concern that they should be safe if they follow the rules.
"Nothing's going to bother me," said Yang, 41, a freelance translator from St. Paul who has hunted four or five nights a week this fall. It's been a year since the Wisconsin shootings, he explains, and he thinks all hunters are more aware of the need to be respectful to each other.
Blia Tou Lee, 34, of Brooklyn Park, says he doesn't expect problems, either. But at the same time, he recounts a recent incident south of Rochester that might give him reason to feel otherwise: several people drove around his hunting camp two or three times and honked while he and his companions were sleeping. He suspects white hunters, he said.
"I don't know what to think about it," he said.
The DNR estimates the state has 10,000 Southeast Asian hunters, about 7 percent of the state's Southeast Asian population.
The hunters interviewed by AP said they hoped to clear up misconceptions about them, such as the idea that they hunt for subsistence.
"We hunt for sport," said John Vang, 44, of St. Paul, a caterer who's been hunting here since 1981. Besides hunting deer, bear and other game, he also enjoys fishing.
They said they enjoy hunting for the same reasons as other hunters - the challenge, the chance to get out in the woods and the opportunity to be with family and friends.
Yang said he spends more than $5,000 a year on hunting deer, small game and bear, partly because his two sons also hunt.
Hmong hunters are often accused of being scofflaws when it comes to trespassing and bag limits, partly because of some highly publicized cases in years past of blatant limit violations. But those interviewed by AP said they don't think that view rings true anymore, and DNR officials agreed.
"Asian hunters are pretty much the same as traditional Minnesota white hunters," said Ryan Bronson, who runs the DNR's Southeast Asian Outreach Program. While the DNR doesn't keep statistics on the race or ethnicity of violators, Bronson said, compliance is high across all groups.
Tong Vang, the DNR liaison, disputed the notion that Hmong hunters may exceed limits because they don't understand the regulations. He coordinates firearms safety and hunter education courses for Southeast Asians and said they generally know the laws.
The DNR has been working for about 15 years to integrate Southeast Asians into Minnesota's hunting traditions, Bronson said.
Officials with the DNR and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association said a crucial difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin is that Minnesota began its outreach efforts long ago, while Wisconsin's efforts have been more recent and on a smaller scale.
Thousands of Asians have taken Minnesota's hunting safety certification classes, Bronson said. Hmong instructors are on hand to help those whose English is limited.
Minnesota has three Southeast Asian conservation officers, and colleagues can contact them from the field if they need a translator, Bronson said.
The Wisconsin DNR's Hmong community liaison, Kou Xiong, agreed that Minnesota is ahead of his state. He's the only staffer working full time with the Wisconsin Hmong community, while the Minnesota DNR has several.
Trespassing is a common source of friction for hunters of any race, officials said. It's getting hard to get permission to hunt on private land. Woods that were once considered wastelands now command high prices, and people who sink their savings into hunting property are often reluctant to share.
Tong Vang said Hmong hunters typically use public land. The hills and bluffs of southeastern Minnesota are particularly popular with them, he said.
Jon Cole, manager of the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area between Rochester and Winona, said there were problems there in the past with Southeast Asians trespassing on adjacent private lands, but he doesn't think it's any worse now than with white hunters. Cole said he couldn't recall a single case of Asian hunters trespassing in his area last year.
"Overall it's improved immensely," Cole said.
Like Yang, John Vang said he hasn't had any problems with white hunters this season. On a trip south of Rochester, he said, everyone he met was friendly.
"You see any deer?" was a typical topic, he said.
He didn't get a deer on that trip, but he tried again last week. He and Tony Vang donned camouflage and hiked into a different patch of woods north of Stillwater, close to where Yang was hunting.
John Vang picked a tall tree and ascended it with the help of his climbing tree stand. Once he had it firmly attached about 20 feet up, he hooked up his safety harness and hauled up his bow and arrows to wait for dusk.
Nearby, but well concealed by the golden and orange leaves still clinging to the thick hardwoods, Tony Vang climbed his own tree, hung his stand, and took a seat as sunset approached, hoping that when the deer started moving, they'd pass within range.
It wasn't their lucky night, but they'll have other chances.
The DNR estimates Minnesota's deer population at 1.2 million, about the same as last year, when the state's 500,000 deer hunters harvested about 260,600 deer, the second-highest level ever. And the limits have been liberalized for this year.
Wisconsin officials are similarly optimistic. Their herd is estimated at around 1.4 million to 1.5 million, and they're expecting a harvest of 400,000 to 450,000.
Did anyone expect them to disagree and lose their job? I have no idea what the truth is, but I don't expect to hear anything except PC talk from public officials.
Good luck with getting a deer and watch your backs out there!
~ Blue Jays ~
i hunt you long time
Upon further review.....
"Yang has spent many an evening this fall perched in a tree stand, hoping a trophy buck would come within range of his crossbow."
There is no mention in the article of Mr. Yang having any sort of special physical handicap. So, I must assume that he is breaking the law, due to the fact that crossbows are illegal to hunt with in Minnesota, unless one has a special handicap permit.
Where's that TIPS hotline number???........
That's what I was wondering.A crossbow???
As usual, a story written about hunting by someone who wouldn't know a duck boat from a deer stand.
I'm going to try to contact the "author" to determine if, in fact, it was a crossbow.
How tiresome the MSM is; how threadbare its conventions.
"i hunt you long time"
cruel, but very funny.
true dat my friend
And since their outbursts after the trial, notice how silent they have been.
They are being taken care of, as long as they maintain their silence. I will be surprised if they flap real hard after the sentencing on 11-08-05.
"As usual, a story written about hunting by someone who wouldn't know a duck boat from a deer stand."
No chit. And that's the most insensitive headline I've ever read! What the h#ll was he thinking? Cripes!
We've got one under our belts so far, and two more days in the "T-Zone" w/shotgun. 300 lb.. 22" spread, 12-point buck. That thing was the size of a moose! JW & the buck will be in the paper this weekend, so I'll try to remember to post a link. :)
Then it's on to the really c-o-l-d hunting with rifle around Turkey Day. I'll probably sit that one out, and keep the wood stove stoked, the knives sharpened and the beer iced, LOL!
They were far from unanimous.
i couldn;t help it
"The piece makes white Americans into the only possible source of violence or hate"
Yes, the bias is pretty amazing, even to me who expects it everywhere. The poster definately forgot the barf alert on this one.
It's an AP story, put out by a Duluth, MN. newspaper.
What were your expectations?
I prefer to believe that FReepers can sort this sort of reporting on their own, without being led around by the nose.
"The poster definately forgot the barf alert on this one."
"The poster" offers it's apology.
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