Over the past few years, I have found myself repeatedly debating the subject of hunting with someone I care deeply about. Like many close relationships, this person just happens to be the exact opposite of me when discussing topics such as philosophy and rights of hunters.
If you asked her to describe me, she would say that I am not a typical hunter given that hunting is all consuming to me.
Last night this divergence in our beliefs reached a new pinnacle. On my way back to my cabin, along a remote road crossing thru the Pioneer Mountains of Idaho, I had the unfortunate experience of hitting a deer.
Unknown to me, somehow during the commotion of this tragic event, the phone in my pocket dialed her number providing her with a most realistic, audio version of me pursuing the deer so that I could compassionately end the animal’s suffering. The law states that you need to contact a Fish and Game officer or local law enforcement to have any animal dispatched but I had to react quickly and make a decision as I knew the animal was in duress.
After hiking about five minutes into the thick, I located the animal and with one targeted shot, I was able to do the right thing
Upon returning to my truck, I grabbed my phone and began to explain what had just happened, how bad I felt, how I had to pursue the deer from this high impact incident in remote central Idaho.
My sincere sadness seemed lost upon her. She could not make the connection as to why I would feel sad when she knows that I am an avid hunter and just the month before I harvested my first Idaho velvet mule deer on a guided hunt
What many good people don’t understand, and I count her among “the good”, is that there is a big difference between killing an animal and the complete “experience” of a hunt. Yes a successful hunt culminates in the same degree in the end.
But hunting, is about the experience of being in the outdoors, the pursuit of wild game, and the ability to provide myself with food required for survival. To deny my passion for this activity, or for my belief in the value of the hunting lessons which have been handed down from generation to generation go against everything I uphold.
I am a predator. It’s in my DNA and I make no apologies for maximizing my place in the food chain. I love animals. I respect, admire and have compassion for all wildlife. I have gone out of my way to help any animal from owls to cats and dogs. Most importantly, I consider myself an ethical hunter in that I follow all rules and regulations and always utilize the kill as a food source.
Now I ask that the next time you encounter a hunter, understand that instead of buying meat at the store, they have chosen not only to pursue their own food source, but they have also chosen to spend their time and money on tags, supplies and licenses which support many local economies throughout our nation. These tag and license dollars provide the funding for wildlife management so that all can enjoy wildlife in whatever manner they desire whether it is through the scope of a rifle, a pair of binoculars or the lens of a camera.