Offended yet? Well, it's true, especially for environmentalists: If you're anti hunting, you're a hypocrite.
You get a free pass on this stance if you're a vegan. If you truly abhor the commodity status of animals and you avoid any and all animal products, then you can hate hunting all you want. I don't share your ethical objections, but I respect them and I salute your devotion to a plant-based diet and its tragic absence of cheese.
Instead of being a word the green community shuns, "hunting" should be a term associated closely with the conscious living movementHowever, if you eat meat and you still think hunting is morally wrong … well, I don't get it. Why is a steak that's all nicely packaged and available for purchase at the grocery store considered perfectly acceptable, while heading out into the woods to claim your own venison is barbaric? Oh, "Hunting for food instead of sport is OK," you say? Then why the angry knee-jerk reaction to the word "hunting" in the first place?
I definitely understand how a person can have no personal interest in becoming a hunter. I've never hunted an animal and I likely never will, for plenty of reasons including the ungodly hour hunters often rise in the morning and an overall lack of skill when it comes to aiming a weapon.
I wasn't raised as a hunter, but my husband was. He takes great pleasure in tromping through freezing rain-sodden woods in the hopes of filling his deer tag, spending time with his crew and, I suspect, holding ongoing competitions to see who can blast off the biggest gorp-fueled farts as they push the timber together.
He enjoys his hunting outings, but the end result isn't about taking an animal's life for kicks. What he kills, we eat. It seems to me that eating venison or elk meat is a much better ethical alternative than eating what's produced from the current industrial agricultural system. You want an organic, sustainably harvested meal? You fancy yourself a locavore? Let us cast our collective gaze to the woods: nature's original farmer's market.
Wild animals aren't kept in tiny pens or dosed with chemicals. They aren't fattened up on grains that consume massive amounts of water, land, and synthetic fertilizer. They aren't causing deforestation from clustered grazing, eroding soil, releasing intensive greenhouse gas emissions, or draining non-renewable resources.
Plus, hunting can be an effective population management tool. For instance, across most of the U.S., man has become the only useful deer predator. Thanks to our own habits of developing over animal habitats, we don't have enough wolves and cougars any more to keep deer in check. Conservation efforts aren't just about keeping deer from overrunning our own crops and groundcovers, they're about ensuring the wellbeing of the species.
Instead of being a word the green community shuns, "hunting" should be a term associated closely with the conscious living movement, similar to the way we think about farmers with free-range or free-roaming flocks or fisherman committed to sustainability.
The bottom line, of course, is that plenty of people are always going to be disgusted by hunting. Here's a comment I received on my introductory post here at TakePart, in which I described our devotion to the outdoors and my husband's love for hunting:
A healthy attitude includes not only to consider garbage reduction but also stop killing animals for fun. Please, try to teach to be friendly with nature in all its aspects.
Right. Well, again, that's an understandable point of view—if you're a vegan. But a lot of people saying this kind of thing are not. The belief that buying meat at Safeway is normal but hunting is not would only be a "healthy attitude" if you were some kind of scavenger. Because however neatly that ribeye has been wrapped in plastic, the truth is someone else took and processed a live animal for your dinner. And honestly, odds are that it lived a shitty life, and died a pretty terrible death.
Our boys are being raised as my husband was, with hunting a deeply familiar part of our family life. But already my eight-year-old has the understanding that many people believe hunting is bad. He was recently reluctant to write about hunting on a homework assignment in which he was asked to describe his interests. "I don't want my teacher to get upset," he told us, worried.
Whatever choices my kids make regarding hunting when they'll older, I know beyond a doubt they will cherish the memories of being in the woods with their dad. I also hope they eventually understand that other people may disagree with our choices … but that doesn't mean they should ever be ashamed.