Why I'm A Hunter
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Politics and Activism

Why I'm A Hunter

How true respect for animals comes from killing them, not shopping for them.

Why I'm A Hunter

Every so often people will come up to me and ask about all the pictures I post on Facebook of the animals I have killed. Some are more forward about it than others, but they always express a sense of disapproval. They commend my dedication and skill, but always end the conversation expressing something along the lines of, “I just can’t wrap my mind around this sport. I don’t see how people enjoy it.” It leaves me disappointed because they just don’t understand, and it’s not their fault.

I initially become frustrated because I interpret these opinions as an act of ignorance, of people talking about something they know nothing about. They only know the myths and stereotypes associated with it presented to them through various media. That just makes me sad because hunting is so misunderstood. Even hunting shows on TV simply show a bunch of men shooting as many trophy animals as they can without any of them explaining why they choose to do so.

These shows are about as realistic as my family is similar to the Kardashians. TV is not an accurate representation of anything, especially hunting. The true meanings and intentions behind it are rarely discussed or explained. It is a topic so seldom addressed that I don’t blame people for not understanding. They don’t know any better because there is such a lack of information about it and people are only made aware of the bad within it. Yes, there are some people who hunt for fun or for bragging rights. However, it is unfair for anyone to generalize this to the entire hunting population.

Within a religious population, you will find hypocrites. Inside the police force, you will find corrupt officers. All throughout the political system you will find power hungry liars. Does that mean all of these institutions are bad? That they have unethical foundations? No. That’s just what everyone chooses to talk about and focus on.

I’m here to talk about the good behind hunting. The reasons why I choose to wake up at the crack of dawn to go sit in the cold woods with the hopes of killing an animal. I’m going to talk about what it means to me and how it’s changed my life and my perspective on the world.

This is why I am a hunter.

I do not go out into the woods and shoot a defenseless animal because I get joy out of it. I do not kill animals for fun. It is not my hobby. I don’t like shooting guns so much that I go out and shoot everything I see. The truth is killing an animal always makes me sad. I have a huge heart for animals and it aches for a while after I take one of their lives. I do it because of how much respect I have for them. I respect them enough not to force them to eat abnormal growth hormones to make them fatter and better tasting. I respect them enough not to keep them in a sunless pin their whole life while sitting in their own waste, which makes it easier for mass production. I respect them enough not to slit their throats and let them bleed out after a miserable life in captivity. The animals that I eat, the ones I kill, lived their entire lives in the wild the way they were meant to. They get to live life the way God wanted them to live their life: without our interference. They get to reproduce and roam the forest however they want to, however their instincts guide them to. They are wild animals and I respect them enough to let them be just that. To let them live their lives. They eat the grass and other things their stomachs were meant to digest. I don’t feed them hormones that aren’t natural to them. I actually spend most of the offseason making sure they have everything they need from salt and grass in foot plots, etc. I work very hard to make sure they have a good life.

And I let them grow into adults. I have never shot a baby deer. I have never shot Bambi. The only deer I have ever killed have been mature deer. If we don’t kill a few each year then the herd will get overpopulated. If it gets overpopulated then the deer will start to compete for resources, ultimately leading to all of their food being depleted resulting in their starvation. Population management is a huge reason for hunting, which keeps the forests and the populations of these wild animals in control and at a healthy level.

I also don’t miss. I’m not saying that out of arrogance. It’s a huge part of what it means to be a hunter. My dad did not hand me a rifle, sit me down and say, “When a deer comes out, shoot it!” He taught me how to handle a gun - how to load and unload it, how to know where the safety is and how to use it. How never to point a gun at anything you aren’t 100% sure you want to shoot. I learned what a weapon means and the significance of it, and how the concept of a gun is not to be taken lightly. I learned which bullets or shells go in which gun and why. I was taught the mechanics of a gun, not simply to pull the trigger. I was also never allowed to go hunting unless I had practiced my shooting every day. If I could not hit my target with a small group every time, I was not allowed to shoot at a living creature. Not until my shooting was nearly perfect did I set out on a hunt.

I am confident with my rifle and with my bow and I have practiced countless hours because when the moment comes when a deer is standing in front of me, I will not miss. It would break my heart to shoot an animal and leave it only wounded. I respect them so much that I will do whatever it takes to make sure they die as quickly as possible. Not only will I not miss because of my practice, I will absolutely NOT take a shot I am not 100 percent confident will kill the animal immediately. I will not take a risky shot.

In fact, I have never missed an animal before. I have never shot an animal that didn’t die. I practice and I know my limitations. I know what shots I can and cannot take and I exercise self control in that. Last season I had the biggest buck I had ever seen stand 50 yards in front of me with nothing between us, and I did not shoot at it. I knew it was 20 yards farther than I was confident shooting and while I easily could have adjusted my sights and made the shot, I was not 100 percent confident I would hit where I wanted to. So despite this monster deer standing right in front of me and the immense frustrations that came with it, I chose not to take the shot. Instead I came back the next day and moved my stand closer to where I had seen him, hoping he would be traveling the same route the next day, which he was. I was patient and I ended up shooting him the next morning at only 15 yards away. I probably would have missed him if I took the risky shot the day before. I didn’t because of how I was taught to hunt. So I made a plan and executed it the next day and got the buck the right way, and I’m very proud of myself for how I handled that situation. It’s not easy to watch a buck that big walk away from you, but I was definitely rewarded for my patience.

These animals live their life the way they were supposed to and one day when they are old and mature, I shoot them. It takes about fifteen to twenty seconds for them to die and they do not suffer, as the animals all the grocery stores are selling you do. These companies are brainwashing you to believe their product is “natural” when it is anything but. Nothing about mass-producing animals is natural. Thus, I hunt because I love animals and I respect them, not because I like to kill them.

Hunting is also not just about killing animals. Realistically, that happens about 10 percent of the time. The other 90 percent I get to experience God’s country the way he intended it to be without our interference. In the 30 or more times I hunted last deer season, I killed a deer four times. The other hunts were spent marveling at the sheer beauty of nature. There are no buildings or people around: just quiet. I get to watch the sun come up through the trees and see the forest wake up with it. Birds start chirping and squirrels come out and run around. It’s so beautiful and peaceful and my favorite part of it all. Getting away from the business of every day life. Getting away from people and sitting in God’s creation is one of the most therapeutic activities in my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve had some of the best conversations with God while sitting in a tree stand.

I’ve been hunting since I was a little girl. It was and is one of the main ways I bond with my Dad and it’s very special to me in ways I could never express using only words. From a very young age I was taught gun safety and other skills pertaining to the activity. But I've also learned about the circle of life. When taught the right way, hunting can have such an impact on someone’s life. It does make me sad to see an animal die, but in it I have learned so much about death. How it’s inevitable and sad, but necessary and will happen to everyone. It will happen to people and animals we love and it’s okay because death is natural. It’s the only guarantee we have in this life. When one learns and experiences it from a young age, I believe they can have the ability to handle it in a mature manner later in life when it happens to the people we love. Death is sad and it’s scary and hunting at first glance glorifies it, but to me it couldn’t be more contrasting than this popular belief.

I’ve also journaled about all of the animals I’ve killed. I remember them all and they all matter to me. I respect these animals and the lives they lived. So the next time you see a picture that I post of an animal I've killed, I hope you look at it from a different perspective. I hope you don’t see someone with a hate or vengeance for animals, but someone that's learned to respect them. Next time you go to the grocery store and buy a big juicy steak to throw on the grill, think about how much you respect the animal you're about to eat. Think about where it came from and how it got onto your grill. I know where my meat comes from. I know how my animals lived their life. Do you?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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