A few months back I got a negative comments on a post I'd made about finally getting into the woods to hunt. It was my first. I'm still amazed that people find my blog and actually read it! I decided to ignore it and move on. But it's just sat there, like an elephant in the room.
The comment wasn't particularly vitriolic, I'm sure other bloggers and
hunters have endured much worse. But if I'm honest, it did bother me. I was told I was a murderer, had a "shit life" and called a jerk-off. I did find it interesting that the poster chose to remain anonymous. A nameless, faceless entity sitting behind a computer screen still has a right to an opinion but I've chosen to not reply, as it seemed superfluous to debate a coward. Make no mistake- I think this person a coward. Spewing words is easy, taking responsibility for them is not. But it made me wonder, is that what people think? That we as hunters are murdering, marauding, bloodthirsty killers. I'm sure there are some, but I think they are an aberration not the norm.
I can't speak for every hunter out there in the woods. I can only speak for myself. I didn't come to hunting in order to kill. Certainly I was aware that it would be a part of it, but it wasn't the reason. I came to hunting after a circuitous and thoughtful journey. I'd grown up around hunters, I'd been exposed to shooting sports my entire life. One of my favorite Christmases ever included a Cabbage Patch doll and a 12 gauge pump shotgun under the tree. Most of the men and a hand full of women in my life have hunted at some point. Hunting was not a foreign concept to me. I just didn't see myself doing it until around 2004.
We had passed through Fort Worth Texas and drove by the stockyards there. I was struck by the enormity of the place. When we stopped for a meal, it was hard to eat the hamburger in front of me and not think of the beautiful creatures we'd passed on our drive. As a child, I was well aware of where my food came from. My father raised pigs and hunted. My uncles raised cattle. But the years had softened that awareness and made it a vague idea. I felt such shame that day realizing that someone else had taken the responsibility for the death that resulted in my meal.
I considered a vegetarian lifestyle so I did some research. I came to realize that even a completely vegan life was not one free of death. Pesticides and farm equipment destroy habitat and kill animals (birds, insects, rodents and rabbits) even as they produce the soybeans that made the tofu burger I was considering. Why should I be accepting of this death but not that of other animals?
How could I provide my body with protein and not be the agent of another creatures death? I found no answer. So, the question became how can I provide my body with protein in a way that honors and doesn't minimize the life of the creature that died to provide it? I came to hunting as the answer.
Each season, the deer I kill provide my family with sustenance and nourishment throughout the year. The cattle in the stockyard, the bird nesting in the soybean field, the insect munching on the soybean- their chances of survival are fairly slim compared to the deer that cross under my stand. I thank God, the universe, Mother Nature or whoever it is you believe runs things each time I'm given the gift of a successful hunt.
The first deer I killed was an emotional experience. Despite having
been around when my father slaughtered hogs, I'd never knowingly and
intentionally killed anything larger than an insect. I even let snakes
go on about their business. The majestic creature that fell to my bow
that evening will forever be etched in my memory and will always be a
part of who I am. Through hunting, I feel a more direct connection with the animal I consume. How could I
waste or minimize the sacrifice the deer makes that I may survive?
It's easier to do when my meat is wrapped in cellophane on a styrofoam
platter, harder when I've killed then helped process the animal.
So, anonymous poster I won't apologize for hunting. It's a thoughtful choice I've made. I'm sorry you don't see it that way. Had you been brave enough to own up to your comments, perhaps we could have had a discussion about it.