I wasnít going to write this one. In fact, I was going to write about "tagging." But not this week. This week Iím going to write about hunters and hunting.
There was a recent story in the Everett Herald regarding the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlifeís offer to organize snow geese hunts on private property. Such hunts would be an effort to reduce the numbers of snow geese in an area near Everett and alleviate some of the damage theyíre causing to local
As you might expect, thatís raised some hackles.
Fine. Thatís where civil debate comes in. Proposal. Counter proposal. Argument. Counter argument. Out of such might come a plan that, while not perfect, was at least workable and able to be agreed to by most.
I get that.
What I donít get are those who, instead of offering reasoned argument, persist in getting their panties all in a wad and then trotting out all of the old humbuggery about hunters and hunting.
Hunting is a "barbaric" sport. Hunters are mouth-breathing simpletons whose only source of amusement is shooting anything that moves. In fact, according to one individual, "90% of the people who have guns are Jerry Springer. They end up shooting themselves more than the geese."
Name-calling and stereotyping are fun, donít you think? Letís try it.
Ninety percent of the people who oppose hunting are animal rights wackos who get their jollies by burning university research sites, splashing paint on those who wear fur, and trying to convince others that life can be sustained on a steady diet of tree bark and bee droppings.
Yep. Itís fun, but it sure doesnít get us anywhere other than to a place where weíre harrumphing at each other with bulging eyes, closed minds, and rising tempers.
Most hunters donít hunt because they want to. They hunt because hunting is part of their nature. In my case, I canít remember a time when I didnít want to hunt. While growing up, I regularly begged my dad to take me. For a variety of reasons he couldnít so, when I got older, I went out and learned on my own.
Itís been, very simply, the most rewarding sport Iíve ever taken up. It teaches ethics and sportsmanship. It teaches humility. It teaches the need for preparation, hard work, knowledge, and study. It teaches that, even with preparation and hard work, success isnít guaranteed but lack of success doesnít equate to failure.
It also teaches humor.
On that last, Iíve learned that if you canít laugh at yourself, donít even think of taking up this sport because, sooner or later, you will make a fool of yourself in front of friends and strangers alike. You will fall. You will get
wet. You will, in fact, be sleeping under a tree and have a deer sniff you while others are watching and trying to keep from busting a gut.
As for being "barbaric," if what hunters do to stock their freezers is barbaric, Iíd then offer that the people who roam the meat aisles of every supermarket in this country looking for Sundayís roast fall pretty much under that same umbrella. The only difference is that hunters eliminate a lot of commercial steps to get that same roast to the table.
As for intelligence, Iíd be willing to stand a cross-section of hunters up against any group youíd like and bet hard money on how theyíd stack up.
You see, Iíve sat around too many campfires listening to doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, engineers, business owners, teachers, and just plain hard working people talk. Most times, I kept my mouth shut so as not to lower the level of discussion.
Itís kind of tough to just wave an arm at these people and declare them either ignorant or barbaric. I guess you can, though, if you enjoy shallow thinking and hollow rhetoric.
I understand that there are those who donít want to hunt. My wife of 36 years is very firmly ensconced in that group. She understands, however, that there are others (her husband included) who deeply believe that, when done properly, it is an ethical, exciting, and challenging sport.
Be nice to bump into that attitude more frequently whenever the topic of hunting is raised.