Honoring the Hunted

The overwhelming majority of hunters truly care about and respect wildlife and the game animals and birds we hunt. The question is, where does this respect come from, and more importantly is this the image we are projecting?

For most hunters it was an early fascination and curiosity for wildlife in our youth that drove us to learn more, get close, and eventually take up the hunt. Unlike the prairie, trees, or mountains, animals are mobile; they interact, they are curious and they are unpredictable. Most of us have been attracted to wildlife from an early age. We like seeing, learning about, and being with wildlife. We are drawn to them, and the places they live—and for good reason.

How could they be that smart and elusive, hard to see, find, and get close to? Their speed, eyesight and hearing is vastly superior to ours, developed over centuries as being both predator and prey. Game animals in particular are both predicable and unpredictable—and tough; survivors, yet fragile if overly pressured. It is our appreciation and respect for wildlife that ultimately lead to the need for conservation and an ethical approach to hunting them.

The more we know about, respect, and appreciate wildlife, our ethical decisions come naturally. Why? Because we care enough to hunt humanely and not inflict undo suffering. We see them as something more than targets to shoot, which is as it should be. When we are successful and the animal has fallen, our respect continues. The tasty, healthy organic protein is properly cared for, secured, and never wasted.

There is something only a hunter can understand that drives us to pack a hind quarter back to the rig, only to turn right around for another load—even if it’s by headlamp. The horns, antlers, skulls, and pelts, packed out as well, preserved as mementos of a great adventure and animal remembered, not forgotten. But when we communicate with others, especially with those who do not hunt, is this image of respect being projected?

It’s natural to share our experiences, and quick and easy for us to post images of our hunt. But the question remains: When we do, what message are we sending to our fellow hunters—and to non-hunters?

 

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