Monday, November 26, 2007

The Good Predator

The gun season for whitetail deer has begun here in Ohio, and though I did not spend the day happily getting wet in the woods, my thoughts have drifted to that place. So far, two of my family have taken deer, my nephew and my father, although my brother-in-law may have found his mark today. In fact, my supper today, in part, will be of venison. So for them, and for all who go afield in pursuit of wild game, I must share with you my thoughts on this matter on this day.

I understand why people who have never hunted or have never associated with hunters have a distasteful view of hunting. This is best reflected in the Disney movie, Bambi. The portrait of Man in that movie was as an infection, disturbing the peace of the woods by their evil presence. Then with a roar of death, they let loose a barrage of gunfire, brutally snuffing out Bambi's mom. Then, to top off their murderous spree, they set fire to the forest through sheer indifference. Damn, even I despise these assholes.

Of course, that's the point. These are not the average hunters. They're assholes.

While even in the hunting population there are these type of savages, they are not the norm. Most hunters, when entering the woods,become a part of the woods, not an aberration. When we make the choice to pull the trigger, we shoot to kill on the first shot, rather than spray death like an animal. And we try to leave the woods as quietly as we entered.

And here's the point: We do not go into the woods to shoot animals. Hunters go into the woods to be a part of nature. We become the predator. Within the laws that ensure a fair chase, we test our wits and our skills against wily animals that seek to avoid us. The majority of them do. Those animals that are slower or more foolish or simply unlucky that day fall. We respect these animals for their skills, and we respect the animals we kill, for in dying they provide us food. And there's something special in eating an animal that has died at your hands versus a piece of meat you buy in a store.

Consider how we kill compared to the rest of nature. Everybody has seen the nature shows where the predator kills its prey. The animal sinks its teeth in and drags its prey down, biting and tearing until the prey is dead. When we make that decision to kill, we shoot to kill with one shot, to drop the animal with as little suffering as possible. The worst feeling I can think of is the idea of wounding the animal I hunt and realizing it will die, slowly, much later.

In addition, the species in this country that thrive best are the ones we hunt. Hunters spend money on their supplies and licenses, much of the money going to support wildlife. I could detail it all here, but many others have dedicated more words to that subject. Hunters are responsible for the preservation of the woods and fields we hunt. Come pare that with the animal 'rights' activists, who spend their money running ads with naked celebs and trying to give wild animals birth control. So tell me who does more for animals.

If you have never talked with someone who hunts, take the time. You may find out things you never knew about nature. I know I have been enriched by hours spent in the woods, feeling the breeze shift, watching a chipmunk run up the hill and over my leg. I have seen proud animals standing and watching me, imagining them laughing as they have outwitted me. And I have had the times where the opportunity has presented itself and I have felt the primal call to be a part of the circle of life.

Wait, I think I just referenced another Disney movie.....


Toad734 said...

The hunters in Bambi represent the hunters who almost hunted Buffalo into extinction and who shoot Bears just to show how big their cocks are. Those are the people I have problems with. My dad is a big hunter and until recently, I had been a vegetarian for the last 16 years. A little Darwinism and I changed my tune a bit. Back then, the only people I respected and I thought deserved to eat meat were the people who killed what they ate. I do a little skeet shooting but never cared for hunting and if ever decide to be at one with nature I would hike across Yellowstone.

On the flip side, not all the hunted animals are the most successful. And no, we don't have an over population of deer, we have an over population of people who cut down their habitats and kill their predators such as the mountain lions and wolves.

I still have no problem with hunters who eat the follow the rules, eat the meat, use the fur etc. I think poachers are the lowest forms of scum bags on the earth and would like to put them in the same cage with Michael Vick and add a few predators of my own.

Patrick M said...

Bambi is all about man being an aberration and not a part of nature. The "hunters" are this unseen evil entity, not the bunch who hunted the buffalo out. I don't see how make that leap.

As for modern game management, it's about getting numbers that the habitat can support, controlling dangerous predators, and maintaining balance. And the problem with the deer population is real, as the worst places are the suburban areas where the deer lose their natural fear of man.

Also, glad you're now cured from your case of vegetarianism. It says that there's hope.

Also, glad you agree with me (oh shit) on poachers.