However, I think the biggest misunderstanding came when we told them what we do for a living. We help to manage a hunting and fishing resort. Many of them were fascinated by this and asked a lot of questions, which I took as a good sign. However, on the third day of our hike we stumbled upon a deer. It was only about 12 yards from me. I was awestruck. It was smaller than the whitetail deer we have in America, and because of all the hikers it sees on a daily basis it was not scared of people. I immediately pulled out my trusty camera to take a few dozen pictures.
That magical moment was quickly ruined, however, when one of my fellow hikers turned to me and asked, “Does it make you hungry looking at it?” Another laughed and asked my husband, “Do you want to shoot it?” I was appalled and really confused. Why would they assume that I would want to shoot this animal? I chalked it up to the fact that they were from another country and simply didn’t understand hunting.
I won’t deny that there are people out there who kill animals because they think it’s fun, but that is not the average hunter. The vast majority of hunters I know have an incredible respect for the animals we hunt. We do not see them as walking bags of meat. We see beautiful creatures who exist in an even more beautiful world. Watching a young fawn play or two button bucks butt heads is often just as enjoyable as the actual hunt itself. It is the interaction with the natural world that hunters cherish. The challenge of providing food for their family with their own skills and wits. Not the killing. I repeat; it is not the killing. The connection that a hunter makes with the animal they harvest is spiritual. I have seen grown men tear up after shooting an animal. I have seen them close their eyes and thank the animal for giving its life to feed their family. I have seen them thank God.
Perhaps this will fall on deaf ears, or perhaps someone out there will be open minded enough to accept that even if he or she doesn’t understand hunting, they won’t demonize those who choose to do it. My friends heard this message, and I hope others will as well.