To be sure, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with harvesting game any more than there is harvesting any renewable resources like broccoli or carrots. After all, we’re omnivores perched on top of the food chain, so we have a huge menu.
But I quit hunting years ago when it started making me a bit uncomfortable inside. My discomfort evolved when I quit eating what I killed.
I got lazy. I also got spoiled by working hard and earning a decent living. After all, I could march into any grocery store and get what I wanted to eat already pristinely packaged and ready to use. Who wants feathers all over their kitchen?
I continued to hunt for some years in spite of my second thoughts. By giving away what I killed I fashioned the rationale that those animals and birds weren’t going to “waste.”
But in moments of reflection, it eventually dawned on me that once my personal “necessity” was removed from the formula, the remaining calculus was pretty stark. At that point, hunting for me was essentially turning living things into dead things in exchange for jolts of adrenaline with a photo or accolade thrown in here and there.
Once I laid it out in my mind, I decided it was no longer beneficial to me and certainly not to the deer, rabbits and squirrels that I now enjoy watching more than shooting. But my reptile still lives inside me, and every now and then I briefly miss those exciting times on the water and in the woods that brought me so much pleasure before my aging conscience reared its graying head.
I have wonderful memories of the past but now can’t imagine killing things other than time and toner. I suppose I’ve alienated a few thousand ardent hunters but didn’t intend to.
I don’t begrudge them their pleasures and part of me envies them their sport. Smells of coffee, cigarettes and gun smoke mingling in an early morning mist are absolutely magic.
I love hunting and clinically understand population controls are necessary for maintenance of healthy species. Once upon a time, Mother Nature controlled populations with weather, climate and an abundance of predators. Nowadays hunting seasons, bag limits and protective sanctuaries substitute for natural selections and create conditions within which we can responsibly harvest and allow the animals to replenish.
What brought this babbling nonsense to my mind was that dove season opens right around the calendar corner. It’s hands-down my favorite type of hunting.
Back in my gunpowder days, doves were perfect on multiple levels. They were plentiful. Their season was the first to open and did so about the time we went back to school from summer vacations.
And it was a big deal that back then you couldn’t start shooting until high noon. Oh my, no alarms at 4 a.m. Plenty of time for breakfasts. No fumbling around in the dark. Those are some truly great memories that I revisit at this time every year.
I enjoyed hunting so much I probably shouldn’t have over-thought it. Oh well.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.