Animal Writes
5 May 1999 Issue

Why I Quit Hunting
by [email protected]

I hunted for 30 years. For various reasons, mostly because my father did,
and my grandfather did. Yes, we ate what we killed, but I never felt I was
hunting TO eat, after all, I had food whether I killed anything or not.

I never felt I was hunting for "wildlife management." I never picked up my rifle
and said, "Well, I am off to do my duty for wildlife management by killing an

I never did hunt for "trophies." Whatever one describes that as.

I didn't even consider my "millenias-old roots," though I occasionally did use
one of my grandfather's rifles, now 100 years old.

I guess I hunted just because I did. At first, killing was thrilling, then anti-
climactic, then distasteful. Then you begin to wonder why you are doing it.

After pursuing elk for 7 years in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, I got an easy
shot at a 6 point bull and passed. If he could elude me for that long, what
business did I have to kill him and hang his head where people who had never
experienced his world could look at him.....not in his magnificence, but in an
artificially posed mount, supported by premolded styrofoam. Would I have
gained anything from the experience? Who would gain? Who would be better
off had I ended the animal's life?

I began to look at hunting differently. It certainly isn't needed by anyone or
anything.......most animals are not hunted at all, and do just fine. Hunters
continually harp on deer overpopulation.....but deer make up less than 2% of
what they kill. And there are now alternatives to hunting deer.

In November 1989, I was shot by a deer hunter, while on my own property.
The irresponsible hunter left me for dead, and my twelve year old son loaded
me in a truck and drove me 40 miles to a hospital. That didn't dampen my
enthusiasm, though, and is not the reason I quit, but it did give me a solid taste
of what the animals endure.

I guess I just started to understand that the animal I was looking at through a
scope was not just a target, but a living thing. A thing that suffered when shot,
a thing that I had no right to kill, though I had the privilege to do so, by virtue
of paying another person a fee for a license. Think about that. The animal is
minding his own business when you go into a store, pay a fee and walk out
with a license to kill the animal, what a deal.

I shot the last animal that will ever fall to my gun in November 1992. I hunted
until January, 1997.

In five years, I discovered I could love the outdoors, and its experiences,
which I still dearly enjoy, without killing. The guns stay at home when I take
to the field now, though I keep the rust off them by frequent trips to the range
to break clay targets or make little groups of holes in paper, and I have turned
more to shooting competition for satisfaction and achievement.

Is hunting worse than factory farms? No. Does that make hunting right? No.

Am I responsible for the death of animals, even though I am a vegetarian,
don't use leather or fur? Sure. One only need observe the bugs on my truck
grill to see that. But I have decided to minimize my impact on animals and
work to help them, rather than kill them.

I have a lot of making up to do.


Go on to Be Kind to Animals Week: May 2-8, 1999
Return to 5 May 1999 Issue
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