Hunting is something that has pretty well horrified me since childhood. Throughout history the entire world has subsisted on wild foods and hunting, and then agriculture. I understand this, and I know that the taking of one life to feed a family for most of a year compared to the life of a factory farmed animal is a much more humane option. I doubt I will ever don a rifle and go hunting, but I wanted to hear first hand from a hunter. So, while we were out fishing, Bret answered some of my questions.
He first went pheasant hunting when he was six years old with his grandpa. His family are avid hunters. I asked how he felt when he first saw an animal be shot. He didn’t think anything of it. He had been raised around it. This made me think about my Uncle Jim who told me stories about slaughtering pigs. I gave him a squished up face and said I could never do that. He said if I lived at that time I could and I would! So Bret never really thought anything of it.
His favorite is hunting doves. He and his friends go every September. By the time the small birds are dressed, they are but appetizers, tiny morsels with a jalapeno tucked in and wrapped in bacon. They are apparently quite delicious. I have read that many homesteaders dine on blackbird and pigeon. They are very common birds.
I asked about hunting mammals. He shot a mouflan sheep before in Texas. They are everywhere, he said. I asked if he felt bad. Again, no. He explained to me that the vast majority of hunters are not new to guns and shooting. They practice, they aim, the animal rarely feels any suffering at all. If they do run, it is from adrenaline and then they drop. Most of the time, they die immediately.
Bret is not a fan of trophy hunting. He also feels that it is a terrible waste of meat to kill a deer just for sport. “That is eighty pounds of natural, organic meat that can feed your family,” he said.
“Far better than factory farmed and much healthier too, I imagine,” I added.
“And it tastes better,” he said.
He told me how the Department of Wildlife has done an amazing job at increasing animal populations. Hunters and the DOW work together for conservation. If there are not enough deer in an area, there will be no hunting. If there are too many (they will end up on the roads or starving), a certain amount of tags go out for that area.
I asked if he has ever gotten an elk, as he goes out hunting for his birthday every year.
“No,” he replied, “It’s really about the experience.”