hunting is considered politically incorrect in some circles, and there is a lot of
non-hunting information in this website, its likely that many people who are
prejudiced against hunting or just undecided may see this. Thus, I feel compelled to
include an explanation of my hunting philosophies.
I am a meat hunter and confirmed carnivore. Except for a little
chicken, nearly all of my familys meat diet comes from
wild game. It is far healthier and nutritious than domestic
meat and I would hate to do without it. I am also a trophy hunter,
and guess what, so is nearly every hunter I know (or at least
they would like to be). Trophy hunting has had a nasty connotation
attached to it, conjuring up the idea of a wealthy "sportsman"
who wantonly slaughters wildlife, taking only the heads and
leaving the rest to rot. I am acquainted with a great many hunters
and no one I know fits this description. I am sure that such
individuals do exist, there are a few bad apples in every group,
but I feel certain that most hunters are outraged by this abuse
of our hunting privileges. In fact, it is a misnomer to even
call people like that hunters, they are simply killers, pathetically
lacking in fundamental character.
To me, trophy hunting means something altogether different.
Hunting is more than a casual pastime, it is a passion and a
large part of the fabric of who I am. Trophy animals represent
the supreme challenge. They have survived many years of predators
and brutal winters and their survival skills are fully intact.
Taking such an animal, fair chase, is very difficult and nothing
to scoff at. To pack into wild and remote country, often alone,
stalk and kill an animal with arrow or bullet, pack said animal
out and use his meat to feed my family and antlers to decorate
my home is something for which I will apologize to no one. Doing
so is a source of great fulfillment and offers a connection
to the cycle of life as it really works in nature. Those who
are critical of this should be sure that their attitude of moral
superiority is not compromised by using a hired killer to provide
them with leather for shoes and meat for dinner. I handle this
sometimes messy and always strenuous chore myself, and am acutely
aware of the real cost to all parties involved. I strive to
kill what I eat, and eat what I kill.
One more point I would like to clear up is that for myself and virtually all other
hunters I know, killing animals is not what it is all about. Yes, that is the final result
(although in fact, I come home empty-handed far more often than not and still consider the
experience eminently satisfactory), but it is the hunt, not the kill, that drives me.
Pulling the trigger is often anticlimactic, and I usually pass on a fair number of animals
before deciding that now is the time. Aside from the jeweled sunrises and invigorating
exercise in high, thin, pure air, what keeps bringing me back is a slightly altered state
I enter when I am really hunting. Theres nothing quite like lurking through the
lodgepoles, watching for patches of tan hair, and getting into the flow or the zone or
whatever you choose to call it. I call this "becoming a predator", and while
anthropomorphism is a murky subject at best, I imagine its what mountain lions and
wolves feel a lot of the time. Its a right-brain state where you stop thinking in
words and are just "there" with all senses turned up to ten. I can still clearly
recall when I first felt this sensation many years ago while descending a ridge in the
Bridger Mountains. I havent been quite the same since.
Unfortunately, hunting seems to be one of those polarizing issues where it seems there
is no middle ground where opposing viewpoints can meet and agree to disagree. That is
regrettable, and in most cases the opposing viewpoints probably share more common ground
than they realize. I know that I love wild country and the wildlife that inhabit it, and
my experiences in pursuit of big game have enriched my life immeasurably. Since you are
reading this, I suspect chances are good that you have similar tastes, and lets not
let the fact that I occasionally kill and eat those animals drive a wedge between us.
See you on the trail.