posted on Nov, 5 2014 @ 11:17 AM
I had to try and overcome this problem. I get the job done now, but I can't say I feel good about it in the way I see other hunters behave.
I began shooting all types of firearms as a kid. In North Georgia, there were plenty of opportunities to shoot and hunt, but my Dad wasn't a hunter,
so I shot at targets exclusively well into my 30's. I've always revered all types of life, so it was with mixed emotions when I accepted an
invitation to go on a guided pheasant hunt with a couple of buddies.
They were both hunting types, and I had long heard about their weekends shooting ducks, deer, and whatever else was in season. They had no idea that I
was - and am - a very good shot, so I think they thought they were going to have a little fun at my expense watching me blast at air or whatever. That
was most decidedly not the case.
We arrived at the property in western Arkansas and hooked up with the guide and his dogs. Off we went, the dogs scurrying around in the brush trying
to scare up the birds that had been raised for this purpose. Finally, a dog went on point and the first pheasant took flight. My initial thought was,
'Wow, that thing is slow!' (not to mention huge) so I was surprised when my buddy shot and missed the crossing bird from about 75'. He made some
lame excuse, but my mind was now 'in the hunt'.
It was decided that I would take the next shot. It wasn't long before one of the dogs scared up another bird, and I put it down easily. Yes, there
was an adrenaline rush, and so it went while we all bagged our five bird limit. The hunt wasn't without incident, though. I took my five with five
shots, all immediate kills. One of my friends clipped a bird and I watched it hit the ground, then stand and begin running across a field. It was
about a hundred yards away and my friend was just sort of ambling towards it. Man, I was hot. I said, "You've got to hurry up and get to that bird.
"I ain't running after a bird."
I gave him my gun and jogged to the pheasant. By the time I got there, it was still very much alive and doing its damnedest to get away from me. I
carry a razor sharp knife, and I was finally able to step on its wing and I quickly cut its throat. First time for that, too.
It had been explained to me that after the hunt, the guide would exchange our birds for others that had been fully dressed. When we were done, the
guide said he didn't have fifteen birds dressed and ready, so we popped the birds in some large garbage bags, threw them in the back of the truck and
headed back to Memphis, about an hour away.
When we got home, the bags had expanded quite a bit due to the release of gasses from the birds. As I had never hunted critters before, I didn't know
not to tie off the bags tightly so the gas could escape. Apparently neither did my buddies. Anyway, I was soured on the entire experience. I gave them
my kill to split and I went home empty handed.
It's not like I cried or anything, but I definitely felt remorse, mostly because I was not in anywhere close to the right mindset regarding the hunt
from the beginning. At that point in my life, all of my meat came with plastic wrapping over it and I wasn't hunting for survival. I was just killing
for the sake of killing. That still doesn't sit well with me to this day.
Later in life I would face financial hardship and would be faced with either doing without or securing meat for the price of gas and bullets. I
grabbed a VERY different friend and explained my situation. I wanted to learn to hunt and dress a few different animals that year and asked for his
help. He obliged, and we spent that winter and spring getting duck, turkey, deer, boar, and rabbits. Aside from a very angry pig that I was more than
happy to shoot (eager would be the wrong word, though), I dealt with the emotion of killing the way I would hope most hunters do, with a sense of awe,
humility, and thankfulness that we are put in a position to hunt and provide for our families. Every kill I made then - even the 330# hog - and every
kill I make now is followed by me thanking, either aloud or to myself, whatever entity put these animals here for our use.
Now we raise chickens, goats, finish cattle occasionally, and I'll take a hog off of someone's hands if they've run into a problem or just changed
their minds about raising it. I don't hunt much anymore, and I don't really care for killing, but I fish quite a bit and will hunt if we need the
meat. I don't get 'excited' about hunting, but I do enjoy knowing and understanding exactly what's going into to my body. We spend very little
money on food, and my criteria for buying food is pretty simple: I look at the ingredients list and if it has more than one, I try to avoid it. I do
all the cooking in our house (both my mother and father were excellent cooks), and I've never felt better since ditching all processed foods and
opting for fresh/fresh frozen/canned foods that I prepare from scratch, including all of our baked goods, bread, and dairy. Yes, there are days when
running to the store for some milk sounds better than dragging my ass out of bed before sunrise to milk a goat, but as soon as I get up and moving,
it's all good.
I say this: If you get a thrill out of hunting/killing, you're missing the point. It's okay to feel humble about taking a life. If you're normal,
that's exactly how you should feel.
Best of luck ~ LR