June 19, 2024


Life is art

Learning lessons in the lifestyle that is hunting | Sports

There seems to be a perception among those who don’t hunt that the sport is all about killing, as if responsible, ethical hunting in itself is something bad or shameful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Death allows life to flourish. How many billions of minnows are eaten daily just to allow countless other fish to thrive? How many countless creatures across this vast world are killed and eaten every hour just so others can survive, nurture their young, flourish, provide beauty and variety to fulfill the plan of our wise Creator? No, death, killing is as necessary as breathing to creation, providing the balance needed to allow the splendor that surrounds us to exist in all its magnificence. The world surrounding us is beyond our feeble ability to fully appreciate or even comprehend.

Humans have the privilege to choose. If you choose not to hunt that is your choice, but don’t think it makes you superior to those who choose of their own free will to do so. Your very existence has brought about the death of countless things even if you are a vegetarian. Perhaps the teeth in your head tell more than all the rationalizations the human mind can invent. Our teeth tell us we were born to be omnivores, born to consume both animal and plant products. If you choose not to hunt, I can appreciate and even support your choice, and if you would allow me the privilege and even support my choice to hunt, that seems very fair and tolerant on both sides of the issue.

IF YOU’VE never hunted it may be very difficult to comprehend that harvesting the animal doesn’t seem like killing at all in fair chase.

First you should have taken the time to become proficient with your firearm, and handle it in a safe manner. This takes time, commitment and money. Next, the right clothing, boots and a host of other equipment must be purchased; really getting expensive by now. The hunter must gain rudimentary knowledge of his game’s habitat and behavior. You don’t just grab a gun and waltz into the woods cracking sticks, waving your arms and blast something. All wild animals are very wary, adept at escaping, which they do every day dodging predators, and vanish easily and often unseen. Ignorance is held in disdain in every sport and ignorant hunters quickly find that knowledgeable hunters avoid them and withhold any information and direction they might otherwise have obtained.

If you are born to the sport, seeing a wild, legal animal in the wild brings on an intense excitement, a sharpening of every sense, adding an intensity to life not found elsewhere. Every emotion and sense come alive in the “now” of the moment. Beginners seldom succeed, spook the animal or miss. Hitting what you’re aiming at when extremely excited, even shaking, is not a simple matter, and misses are more common than hits. When and if you do finally succeed you at last rush up and claim your quarry. You got it, can hold the animal, admire its feathers or fur, feel a sense of accomplishment and have acquired a tasty meal. You’re glowing inside, your goal accomplished and your buddies will share this accomplishment with you. They know what it takes to succeed.

DID THIS seem like killing?

No, not at all; it was what was necessary to finally acquire your trophy, big or small, and it wasn’t an easy thing to achieve. You had to do so much correctly to finally throw that touchdown pass in double coverage.

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I was very fortunate and bagged a big gobbler Tuesday. I was deliriously happy with the 20-pound gobbler and still am. With a second tag unfilled I remained at camp. Wednesday morning it poured, soaking me to the skin, and I never heard a gobbler. That evening I put a bird to bed and Thursday was in position before dawn.

A thick fog rolled over the ridge, but the bird gobbled as the white mists swirled softly around me. A soft cluck and he answered, flew down and started my way. With a gobbling tom approaching, I was trembling with excitement, eyes searching for the slightest movement, remaining absolutely still. Just before the gobbler appeared, two hens began cutting and yelping to my left and led the gobbler off. Darn it!

I followed in the thick mists for 200 yards, set up and called again. The big tom double gobbled and headed my way. Oh, baby, but just out of sight he suddenly shut up. I’d never even twitched, what happened?

Later that morning a gobbler unexpectedly crossed the road in front of me. I drove a good 400 yards, parked, set up and called. He answered and started my way. I was in a thick grove of small aspens and poplar. The cautious gobbler appeared at the limit of my sight, in range, but never presented a shot. Not seeing a hen, he turned and left. Wow, so very close two times.

I sat there, disappointed, but still high on that gobbler adrenaline rush. What excitement, heart pounding-anticipation, but the wary birds had won. Suddenly, everything seemed right. There were still three weeks to hunt and those two wary gobblers had provided every thrill of the chase for me and emerged victorious.

Good for them. After all, hunting is much more than killing.