Monday, October 03, 2005

Tis the Season, Animal Rights Activists Be Damned

It's that time of year again. That tell-tale nip is in the morning air, snow is falling sporadically on the mountain tops that will soon disappear under winter's blanket of downy fluff, the sporting goods sections of all of my favorite stores are stocked to capacity with all types of camouflage goodies, and I am once again feeling the urge to venture out into mother nature's playground and freeze my damn fool ass off in a quest to fill my neglected freezer. Ah yes, hunting season.

In spite of recent events here in Billings involving scantily clad female activists demonstrating against the atrocities perpetrated against animals by we insensitive humans I will once again go forth armed with one of my trusty shootin' irons and attempt to bag the big one, or the tasty one, or hell any one for that matter since I really ain't that picky. I haven't actually killed anything in years even though I've spent a fair amount of time out in the field in the last few. It's not that I'm really a particularly bad hunter, and I'm definitely not a bad shot, I just don't really concern myself with the killing part. The killing part being necessary in order to get to the eating part is definitely planned for and I am more than willing to perform the act, it's just that killing isn't the reason that I go hunting. Living is the reason that I go hunting. Ironic when one thinks about it but it's the truth.

The pictures above were taken last year and I believe that they embody a large part of the true essence of hunting. I spent a few days in the rugged and majestic Gravelly Range spending the first night with my son in the cab of the truck because we couldn't find the camp in the dark, camping in a tent the rest of the time sleeping next to a softly crackling wood stove, and spending time with my son and my sister and her husband chasing the wiley wapiti.

Did we kill anything you ask? Not so much as a gopher but we told some stories, saw all kinds of wildlife that we weren't hunting for, saw all kinds of wildlife that we were hunting for that we couldn't shoot because these particular critters were guests of Mr. Ted Turner, we ate together, laughed together, and just basically had a really good time. My son and I came away from the experience closer to each other having lived it together, and my sister and I rekindled a friendship that we used to enjoy but don't seem to have the time for anymore. Most important, my son got to spend some time away from the television and video games experiencing something real, in the presence of people that are a positive influence, instead of the negative ones that bombard our children these days at school and in their own neighborhoods. My sister's husband and I got to teach him some valuable lessons about gun safety, he got to learn the value of a flush toilet located in a heated bathroom, and he also got to learn what happens when his dad puts too much paper in the woodstove to start the fire and plugs up the spark arrester with ashes, ahem.

This, PETA members, is why I hunt, if I don't kill anything I don't really care, at least I have the experience of it all to remember and cherish forever. If I do kill something, then I get to experience even more since half of the fun of a successful hunt is sharing nature's bounty with friends and family, sitting around on a cold winter night eating deer sausage with cheese and enjoying a few drinks with a friend or two, or a plate of sizzling elk steaks hot off the grill at the spring's first cookout, guests anticipating their first taste of something new. It's a fish fry on the lakeshore, or a plate of fried rabbit or pheasant with some cold brew to wash it down, all enjoyed and shared with the people we love.

That, my friends, is what hunting is all about, and I am proud to pass that on to my son so that someday he can sleep in the cab of the truck with his son, and tell him about the time that he and his father did the same thing, and they can laugh together like old friends, like my father and I still do when we talk about the time that we slept in the cab of the truck on a fishing trip,(are you noticing a trend here?). So I say, if you hunt simply for the kill, you are missing out on so much, take the time to enjoy the experience, accumulate some stories that don't involve Boone and Crockett scores since the rest of us get really tired of listening to you brag, and most of all, sleep in the cab of your truck once, it builds character and I'm sick of being the only one with a seatbelt latch crammed into my back.

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