Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ambivalent Thoughts on Hunting

As we head toward autumn in the mid-South, cooler weather is bringing lots of thoughts about deer hunting and as bow hunting season opened in Tennessee yesterday I thought this might be an appropriate time to share some of my personal thoughts and feelings about hunting.

I grew up in a place rural enough that nearly everyone in it took deer hunting very, very seriously, as they do in parts of rural Middle Tennessee. In my youth it wasn't uncommon for the classroom to be half empty on opening day and I assume it is still that way. It wouldn't be to strong a statement to say that deer hunting is a part of the culture where I grew up.

I know there are a variety of valid reasons that people choose to hunt. For low wage earners, deer season represents perhaps the best chance at putting a surplus of meat in the freezer. A lot of hard working folks rely on deer to supplement their larder and lower their grocery bill and it's hard to argue with that.

I don't row crop farm any more but when I did it was easy to ascertain by the level of crop damage in my fields how the local resident deer population was faring. Some years damage was sparse but most of the time crop damage was extensive and in those years it was hard to argue with anyone that there weren't too many deer. In Ontario, some of my large extended family used to partake of deer hunting on my land with my permission, and I enjoyed being a part of the camaraderie that ensued before and after the day's hunt. As a part of the unspoken "fee" for hunting my land, my cousins would bring me a part of their harvest and I enjoyed having a meal with them too.

In spite of all that, I'm not much of a deer hunter myself and I never have been. There are a variety of reasons for my lack of enthusiasm for hunting and these include reasons like not really having time to not really enjoying spending my leisure time freezing my butt off in a stand on a cold Ontario November morning. But the real reason...the one that I mostly leave unspoken, is that I don't personally find much fun or sport in shooting to death an animal that really hasn't done me any personal harm and that I really don't need for food. I always feel kind of sad even when necessity calls for me to put to death a member of a verminous species, and I'm just not very interested in taking a life and calling it fun.

I'll be interested to read the comments on this post !


Sylvia said...

I'm with you. I grew up in a hunting obsessed community Bow, rifle, muzzle loader. I couldn't stand seeing deer hanging out of the back of someones truck. Ug. Or hanging from the tree out front. People who feed apples or spot deer at night.(and road hunters!) If you're shooting it to have venison, and not waste it, fine. But at least give the deer a fair chance. I also know there Is a need for it for health reasons...but it's just not my thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm in an area that is popular with people from "the city" to come hunt. Yech! I have nothing against hunting per se, but trespassing, yep, big problem. My hubby used to hunt, but his reason for quitting is pretty good, I think - his BIL shot him!

Funder said...

I grew up with non-hunting parents (who now get a couple of field dressed deer a year from friends!) I don't see any problem with hunting. Something is going to kill and eat that deer, and it'll probably be a lot more gruesome than a bullet.

I don't like suffering, and I buy the most humanely raised meat my budget allows. But I do like meat, and I think we evolved to eat it.

The only thing I hate about hunting season is wondering if somebody is going to mistake my paint horse with her orange-coated rider for a deer!

Jason said...

Most of my friends and neighbours and a good portion of my family hunt. They enjoy it, and as I mentioned in my post, there are aspects of the hunt that I enjoy too.

In my books, killing things is something I do out of necessity, not for fun. I'm not opposed to killing, and I've sent a lot of critters on to the promised land, but it's not something I've ever looked forward to doing, either.

I agree that trespassing and weekend warriors with guns and no brains are much bigger concerns to me than whether or not someone hunts. If they hunt responsibly, I have no problem with it. It's been my experience that many do not. I have zero patience with idiots who don't bother to check who'se land they are on (mine !) or what they might actually be shooting at (or what might be behind whatever they are shooting at) before they pull the trigger.