Your Sept. 13 editorial "Killing Deer and Stifling Speech" displayed an arrogance one routinely encounters from closed-minded urbanites who possess no understanding of the traditions and purposes of hunting. I was particularly troubled by your casual use of lies and distortions in a shameless attempt to bias public opinion against hunters.

I'm referring to your statement that "when bow and arrow are used ... half the animals hit are not killed but rather escape to die of wounds and infections over a number of weeks."

Check with a game department or any other responsible organization, and you'll find that the rate of unrecovered game in the sport of bow-hunting is nowhere near that level. Also, unrecovered game doesn't take weeks to die, though overpopulated, starving animals do. Just because you have difficulty coping with the horrible reality that humans are at the top of the food chain and that the laws of nature are more harsh than those portrayed in "Bambi" is no reason to excoriate a sport with which you're patently unfamiliar.

As for the rest of the editorial, your distaste for hunting affected your judgment. There's a world of difference between peaceful discourse and blatant harassment. Chasing hunters through the woods is not a form of speech. The intent and effect of this action is not to convince hunters of anything but to make it impossible for them to hunt.

Wildlife-management areas, funded largely by the purchase of hunting licenses, exist for the use and enjoyment of their resources, including hunting. The right to free speech must be balanced with the rights of people to pursue activities without undue interference from others. Hunting, after all, is also a form of expression. It expresses a respect for the game that is pursued, for the environment of which man is a part and for a tradition of hunting by common people that's unique to America.

While I realize that helping to preserve the rights of those whose cultural background and values conflict with your own is difficult, as journalists and Americans, you have a responsibility to do so. -- Gordon L. Rodetsky

How can you say that urban, hyper-emotional nuts have the right to interfere with a lawful sport?

If these radicals were concerned about wildlife, why did they not protest when the nice little developments they live in were built? The bulldozers did more to harm the wildlife than any responsible hunter. Maybe Mr. and Ms. "Cause of the Week" think habitat destruction at the expense of wildlife is okay, as long as they can be close to the mall or the Metro.

Hunting is a deeply personal experience for any ethical hunter. I do not know any hunter who enjoys the kill; however, hunters realize that humane and quick harvesting of wildlife through the lawful pursuit of game is preferable to nature's way of handling the problem of over-population through starvation and disease.

The real threat to wildlife in America is misguided radicals like these animal-rights protesters jumping on the latest cause. I challenge them to show through deeds, not protests, a better way to control wildlife overpopulations and habitat destruction. I am a sportsman and conservationist. I care more and understand more about the challenges to wildlife than any of these yuppie, bandwagon-jumping activists, and I question their motives. -- Bert E. Napolitano

Your editorial "Killing Deer and Stifling Speech" interwove two issues: that hunting is cruel and therefore bad, and that free speech cannot be prohibited or regulated without compelling reason.

First, hunting is natural and is cruel, as is nature itself. Except for man and a few scavengers, carnivores kill their meals, though most modern men pay someone else to do their killing. Some animal-rights advocates are protesting hunting at the same time that they are paying someone else (albeit indirectly) to do their killing for them. It would be more appropriate for them to protest at the meat counters of Giant and Safeway or at the abattoirs and processing plants.

Second, harassment is the issue in hunter-harassment laws. Free speech is not. If one dislikes boxing, free-speech rights do not entitle one to stand in the ring during a match and "discourse peacefully." If one doesn't like football, free-speech rights do not entitle one to line up near the 50-yard line during a Redskins game and "discourse peacefully." If one dislikes hunting, free-speech rights do not entitle one to infringe upon the rights of others engaged in legal and ethical pursuits. -- Lee M. Hand