I just got invited to go hunting for probably the 500th time. I had to politely decline and chuckle, “No thanks. 'Fraid I’m not much of a hunter.”
Being just one generation removed from East Texas white trash and backwater country folk, I have a long acquaintance with hunters and hunting. Most of my uncles, and a substantial number of my aunts, hunt; my older brother is a hunter, my dad was, both grandfathers were. My beloved great aunt Ola, gone these past three years after living to the ripe old age of 96, was a serious hunter who had shot (and, of course, ate) deer, moose, elk, caribou, pronghorn antelope, bear, and God-only-knows which other critters. My wife’s family are all from rural Georgia and almost all of them hunt, too.
I don’t hunt; truth is, I just don’t ‘get’ hunting. Every explaination and/or defense of the practice sounds like bullshit to me, even after hearing the same arguments for most of my life.
My brother says, “It’s the ‘sport’ of it that’s exciting, not the killing. It’s all about the ‘man-versus-nature’ dynamic.” Bullshit, says I. I could maybe consider it a ‘sport’ if the deer all had a minimal amount of intelligence, opposable thumbs and maybe a few of ‘em were armed. That would make it a thrilling, exciting, action & pursuit game. Sitting in a deer blind drinking coffee from a thermos and waiting for one of these dumb, placid beasties to wander by so that you can shoot it doesn’t seem all that ‘sporting’.
“…but we always eat everything we shoot,“ says my father-in-law. Good, that’s great…you should eat any animal you kill. I have no problem with that. Hell, I love venison. If I had to kill animals in order to eat them, I suppose I would; but it would be just a task I had to complete in order to eat, not a ‘sport’. The guy who wields the hammer in a slaughterhouse probably doesn’t consider it a ‘sport’ when he sends Bossy up to Cow Heaven. Besides, it’s 2009; nobody really has to hunt for sustenance any more; there are these things called ‘grocery stores’…
I consider hunting to be a little creepy and a bit weird. Not terrible, or horrific, or inhumane, mind you, but a little creepy, a minor weird. Like finding out that your Uncle Sully wears women’s underwear; you still love the guy, and you don’t really think any less of him, but you still raise an eyebrow because it is a bit odd.
Despite all of the talking around the subject and attempting to somehow justify it, hunting is all about killing something. The thrill, the enjoyment, and the feeling of accomplishment comes from the killing; from shooting a living thing to death. It’s just a deer, but it strikes me as bizarre that anyone —including a number of people I love— would get good, pleasant, positive feelings, from killing something.