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
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
I never did hunt for "trophies." Whatever one describes
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
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,
business did I have to kill him and hang his head where people who had
experienced his world could look at him.....not in his magnificence, but
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.
continually harp on deer overpopulation.....but deer make up less than
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
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
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
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
minding his own business when you go into a store, pay a fee and walk
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
to the field now, though I keep the rust off them by frequent trips to
to break clay targets or make little groups of holes in paper, and I
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
grill to see that. But I have decided to minimize my impact on animals
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
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