I know a lot of hunters. I’ve lived around people who hunt for most of my life. I also love firearms, and have loved marksmanship since I was a very little boy. However despite all of this, I have never been hunting, and what’s more, I don’t really have the desire to do so.
I’ve been certified to purchase a hunting license, through the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, since I was 17. However, after getting my certification in Hunter Safety, I never actually went hunting, or even purchased a Hunting License. I did mean to for a time, but have since lost most of my interest in doing so, almost entirely. I still love camping and firearms as much as I ever have, and I support the right of citizens to hunt their food; but I just don’t see the appeal of hunting as a sport.
This is probably for a number of reasons.
First of all, I was raised slaughtering animals on our family farm, and I have a fair bit of experience butchering animals. Because of this, I tend to see dressing a carcass as work and in no way related to play. Therefore the idea of hunting anything sounds rather unpleasant due to the work which I know will be involved after making the kill. I know there are lots of hunters avoid much of this work by taking their kill to a butcher to do the rest of the work after a basic field dressing; but the whole idea of dealing with the carcass of anything larger than a fish (or at most that of a rabbit) just seems tedious and boring to me.
Secondly: I don’t actually eat very much meat. I hold to a particular interpretation of my faith’s dietary restrictions which emphasizes a limited intake of meat (particularly red meat) into one’s diet. While I will eat meat when it is offered to me, or is convenient, I do not actively seek it out in my diet (aside from fish). As such, hunting seems wasteful in the context of my personal diet since I wouldn’t know what to do with that much meat.
Lastly — but most importantly — I don’t think I fit into the ‘hunting’ culture. The culture that permeates the sport has become tightly coupled with that of ‘rednecks’ (a cultural subset with which I have little in common) and the hunting culture seems to approach the taking of animal life in a manner that is rather different from my own up-bringing. While my family never shied away from taking the life of an animal when necessary or even useful; I was taught that the taking of an animal life for appropriate reasons was to be done soberly and with the utmost respect. Perhaps that is why I don’t glory too much in the actual act of killing an animal. While I can see the appeal in the chase, which I experience as a fisherman, the climax of fishing is in catching the fish and not in killing it. It seems to me, however, that in the conversations of hunters it is the kill itself that gets glorified. This may have a lot to do with the fact that for them the kill and the catch are synonymous, but still something about the tone with which the subject is broached by hunters seems incongruous with my feelings on the matter.
Allow me to again make it clear that I do not object to hunting in of itself, and I do enjoy the taste of meat and even game. But it merely does not coincide with my own personal needs, wants or desires. I am by no means a vegetarian (although I do believe that the American consumption of meat is excessive), but I do believe that we as a culture should examine our approach to the sport of hunting and the attitude with which we broach the act of taking a life.
I have taken the lives of animals, and I do not regret doing so. But I know what it is like to raise an animal from birth, to care for it, and even love it; and then — when it is full grown and the time is right — to take its life with my own hands. To some that may seem psychopathic, but to me it is a very solemn act of receiving a gift from God and nature. In fact I don’t believe that any believer in God should should ever take the life of an animal without offering a prayer either vocally or in their heart. The death of an animal is not something that should be taken too lightly.
The day may still come that I will go hunting, although mostly likely for small game (due to my having had my fill of dealing with large carcasses), but I would hope that I would still approach the death of my quarry with the solemnity that I was taught to have when I was little. And I would hope that all who do so might take that into consideration.