The Ethics Behind Hunting
Politics and Activism

The Ethics Behind Hunting

What really goes on in a hunter's head.

45

I often have trouble sleeping at night. Too often I find myself thinking about all of my previous encounters with animals that got away or ones that I wounded. The one who got away for me was a huge bull elk in the backcountry of Colorado. Every night I think about it. He was the king of the mountain. He had a massive body and a presence that truly was majestic. I battled this bull in a place that few men would go, and then chased him four miles up to 13,000 feet and down to 11,700. After hours of hiking and tracking, I found myself 15-yards with my hair being blown back from his bugle. I came to full draw with my bow but would never release an arrow as he never presented me a clear shot through the few branches that separated my arrow from both of his lungs.

I have always said, “Well, even though I didn’t shoot anything, I still had a successful hunt.”

I found that I said this more to please people and convince them that I wasn’t some cold blooded killer who loved killing innocent animals. Now just because you don’t kill an animal on a hunt doesn’t mean you are truly unsuccessful. However, if every hunter were to be completely honest, he would tell you that tag soup leaves a sour taste that lingers for a long time after the hunt.

Is there really anything that is worse than this feeling? I say yes.

Hunting can be a controversial topic. I believe this has led to misconceptions about what the actual definition of hunting is. I do not go out to “harvest” a deer or “collect” meat when I go hunting. To put it bluntly, I go out to kill whatever I am chasing. I have found myself almost downplaying the true meaning of hunting to appease other people’s ideas of what “hunting” is so that they don’t get offended. Now some parts of a hunt should not be shared, and one should be cautious about being too gruesome in describing details to an audience that is not familiar with the outdoors. With this in mind, I have used the term “harvest” before in explaining to people my taking of a trophy buck, but I didn’t harvest that buck. Crops are harvested, not deer. When you say, “I killed this (insert animal),” you can come across as a variety of different characters to different people you decided to share your story with. I believe as hunters we have to find the “right story” to tell to people to educate them on “yes, I did kill this animal, and here is why…”

The situation couldn’t have been more perfect. I had snuck into the oak along our creek here in West Texas. Crawling into a west wind, I had spotted a 4.5-year-old 7 point chasing a doe about 100 yards away. He soon lost the doe and started walking away defeated. I saw the opportunity presented and acted. The doe had walked behind me, and I knew that nothing would get this buck madder than if another buck showed up to steal his girl. I rattle my antlers briefly, and just like that, he is making a beeline right for me. Everything came together perfectly. He stepped out and presented me a 20-yard frontal shot. (A shot I am very comfortable in making) But I screwed it up. I had held my bow for over 1.5 minutes and in the process had lost some mental focus in shot placement. I had focused so hard on holding back my string that I had let my mind shift to the pain in my muscles instead of focusing on the buck.

The result: A low non-lethal shot. I tracked this deer for 600 yards and came to the conclusion that he would live on, and he did as I would see him later on in the season healthy as can be.

There is not a feeling that hurts more than wounding an animal. My goal every time I go out to hunt is to kill my prey. When I am presented with the opportunity to make a kill and fail, I feel sick. The animal deserves to be killed in the fastest way possible by whatever means of weaponry you are using.

The sight and sound of a wounded animal are one that is never forgotten. I don’t know how to describe it but the look I see in the animal as it breathes its last few breaths can rightly change a man. All of a sudden I go from being a killer to being almost apologetic for the pain I have caused. Killing an animal is a whole lot easier mentally when they run off and die in the brush or drop in their tracks.

When you make a life goal, you want to accomplish it with 100 percent success. All the time and effort you put into preparing for the opportunity to succeed builds your emotional ties to the subject. When you come down to it, an animal dying in not graceful or majestic. Killing is killing. You are taking the life of an animal that God has put on this planet. With this responsibility, you have to find what you perceive as your personal ethics.

Being a hunter means you have taken up the responsibilities that come with killing an animal. Practicing, having the right equipment, taking ethical shots, honing your tracking skills, and meat care are all parts that you should try to learn and advance in. The animal deserves your best effort as a hunter. When you do wound an animal and lose it (if you hunt long enough you will wound one and either lose it or have to track it a long ways and anyone who says they haven’t had this happen after so many years of hunting is probably lying), learn from that experience. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it makes you question rather you should go hunting again. Visualize your mistake. Carry out the appropriate adjustments so that the next time you are presented with the opportunity to kill; you make it happen.

Don't agree with hunting? The first thing I want you to ask yourself is “How often do I eat meat?”

Now I will eat a cheeseburger, and I enjoy a good steak, but I have no clue where the meat came from. When I eat deer, elk, or any other kind of animal, I know for a fact that the animal was on a 100 percent organic diet. The animal did not live a stressful life in captivity. And I also know that the person who killed the animal has respect for what this animal provides. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I will never force someone to accept that hunting is right for them. If you don’t like hunting, I respect that, but please be educated on the practices and ethics presented in the whole process of hunting before you decide to talk down on the matter.

As for me, I still think about all the animals that outsmarted me and the ones that got away with my arrow. Every time I shoot my bow, I visualize these situations in hopes of bettering my skills both physically and mentally. But no matter how much I practice, I will lose at least one animal in my next 50 plus years of hunting. Sometimes stuff happens.

As a hunter, I don’t want to be judged on how many “trophies” I have taken or lost. I want to be judged on how I reacted in times of great obstacles. Rather that be passing up an animal because the shot isn’t 100 percent there, having to follow a blood trail on a bad shot or having to finish off an animal because it is suffering, I want my actions to show what I truly am. Even though I am a killer, I find respect and admiration in the animals I hunt. I am blessed to of acquired skills that help me run through the mountains and walk across the brush country, and I will use these skills in a way that is ethical in the field of hunting.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

This Survey Shows How Quarantine And Drinking Relate, And I Can't Say I'm Surprised

"5 o'clock somewhere" is more of a guideline now than ever.

As it stands, and my friends and I are finally 21. We're extremely excited to be able to go out to bars and "get lit" as the kids say, but due to the pandemic, all of our plans have been put on hold. We'd rather wait and go when it's safe than risk spreading the infection and hurting our loved ones. So, we've all been quarantining apart, getting on the occasional wine zoom call. This made me wonder if anyone else our age were doing the same thing.

Then, I discovered this survey: We Surveyed Millennials And Gen Z About Their Quarantine Drinking Habits — Cheers. Here are 3 things that I discovered through the survey results.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Easy Summer Mocktail Recipes You Can Make With Items You Probably Already Have On-Hand

Keep these drinks in mind next time you're visiting your local farmer's market — you might want to grab some extra mint and limes.

With Summer 2020 in full swing comes the addition of many fresh fruits and vegetables to brighten up your dinner plate, but also your glass! Farmers markets are my personal favorite place to look for produce that is in season to make fun mocktails with.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Ways To Celebrate The 4th of July — Without Fireworks Or Social Gatherings

We created a list of things to do since social distancing may create a dent in our typical, planned traditions.

With the Fourth of July on Saturday, the usual tradition of popping fireworks, grilling out, and being surrounded by family has been modified due to the pandemic. Whether you're a loner or surrounded by family, there will most likely be some changes to your celebrations.

For weeks on social media, people across the country have been complaining that they have been subjected to fireworks going off at all times of the night into the early morning. This has sparked concern and questions about why this is happening and how are people even obtaining the fireworks.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Carb And Cheese Lovers, Unite — These Are The Best Mac And Cheese Recipes On The Internet

Whether you need to get through the current pandemic or want to spice up your Fourth of July celebrations, these mac and cheese recipes will do just that.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxIKdnMHcGr/

My favorite food is mac and cheese, and it always has been. All it requires is noodles and cheese — it's so simple to make. Although it's my favorite, it can also get kind of mundane because it's such a simple recipe. This, of course, has led to many people all over the world experimenting with the American staple.

With our lives currently being turned upside down due to the pandemic, a lot of people are seeking comfort. These are scary times, and in order to make it day-to-day, we need to have our favorite foods as a standby. These recipes can also be used during your celebration of the Fourth of July.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

17 Things To Make You Feel GOOD This Week

Because some purchases are just necessary.

Y'all, we're struggling. You don't even have to tell me, I know. What a mess we're all in, right? This year is not going how we planned and the world has turned into one giant struggle bus. I guess you could be super philosophical about everything happening for a reason, but sometimes life is just hard.

There are plenty of ways to bring yourself out of whatever rut you're in. You could go for a run, have a snack, or read a book. Or, if you're really looking for an adrenaline rush, go shopping. This is obviously not going to solve the world's problems with one swift click of the "checkout" button, but hey, it may just give you the little boost you need today.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Wore A Butt Mask Every Day For A Month, And It's Officially Essential In My Daily Self-Love Routine Now

Thirty days later, my booty's as smooth as a baby's.

- Blissfully unaware that butt-care beyond squats was even something I should be considering in my self-care routine, I tried one of Bawdy Beauty's butt masks for the first time a month ago.

- I've never really given my butt a second though till I took a look at improvements that could be made with the mask — if one of the hydrating, firming, detoxifying, or brightening masks in the kit I received could either smooth out cellulite or tone my skin a bit more, I wasn't going to complain.

- Each Bawdy Beauty sheet mask comes in an individually-packaged sheet, soaked with a serum I massaged into my skin after removing said sheet. The clay butt mask comes in a convenient stick format I simply draw on to my skin and leave to set for about 10 minutes before hopping into the shower.

- I set a goal of committing myself to butt-care every day for one month. Between the regular use of sheet masks, clay masks, and their CBD Butt Balm in between, I didn't have many expectations.

- I thought the whole concept may just be a gimmick, but my butt has never looked so toned in my life, and the cellulite I had is almost completely gone. I wear one every single day when I get the chance.

I'm incredibly skeptical when it comes to marketing ploys and gimmicks in the beauty world. I'll be the first cynic to try out the latest serum on the market every influencer is raving about just to negate every grandiose claim it makes.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, you don't have to be quarantined to use a personal massager, you know? Because, sure, quarantine made for a lot of extra quality time with yourself, but no matter what phase of the reopening process you're in, it's normal and actually healthy to take care of your sexual needs on your own.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

5 Books I Didn't Realize Are About Gay Women

If you read primarily LGBTQ fiction, then this list might help to expand your TBR list.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Frequent readers of LGBTQ fiction might feel like they're reading the same book over and over again, with few exceptions.

Most of these books were on my TBR list for months and I didn't realize they were about gay women until I was reading them, hopefully, this list of books can interest you in expanding your reading material and seeking out different stories.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments