Posted by: mesabimisadventures | September 20, 2009

The Reluctant Carnivore

Matt and I went out in the woods grouse hunting this beautiful, warm, sunny Fall morning. 

Let me rephrase that. 

Matt went grouse hunting this morning; I merely existed to unintentionally impede his success.  He hoisted his 12-gauge over his shoulder, donned a blaze orange vest with enough ammunition to wipe out a small village of grouse and walked along vewy, vewy quietly (or would Elmer Fudd say quietwy?).  I tagged along gamely, attempting to not scare off any potential “provisions for winter” by kicking at the crunchy red leaves or by randomly blurting out thoughts that popped into my easily distracted, overly-caffeinated mind.  “Hey Matt?  Where do grouse go in the winter?  Do they just burrow in the snow?  If they do, do you think I’ve ever accidentally smooshed one snowshoeing?”

I really don’t make a good hunting partner.  After all, how encouraging can it be when a grouse is spotted and your hunting partner closes her eyes, covers her ears and starts making wincing noises before you’ve even pulled the trigger? 

My guess?  Not very.

On the Iron Range, one consistent statement I hear when I ask men (and some women) why they live here is “huntin’ an’ fishin’.”  With a multitude of lakes and an abundance of public lands, this area is like a Mecca for those interested in hobbies that involve (pause).

And here is my struggle. 

My first inclination is to say “hobbies that involve the killing of animals.”  My bias is semi-, a little bit- or, oh wait, completely and totally obvious.   When a grouse pops up, my first thought is “please let Matt miss, please let Matt miss.”  Not because I secretly harbor ill will towards Matt, but because I don’t really want to be present when another living creature loses their life, even if their life is already predestined to be relatively short.  In my overly imaginative little world of a brain, I envision a little family of grouse (grease?) wondering why their paternal figure didn’t come home for dinner that day as they all hope he’s just caught in traffic or road construction.

Sigh…  It’s not that I don’t eat meat.  I do.  It’s not that I don’t support hunting rights.  I do.  It’s just that because I’m apparently lacking the gene that grants satisfaction from hunting, I simply don’t understand the appeal of (another pause).  Perhaps it is the ego-driven, testosterone-laden hunters that put me on the defense.  The ones who you see on the early morning hunting shows talking about the so-called “sport” of hunting while using expensive, high-powered rifles and accessories all designed to seduce the creature into coming closer and closer to their imminent death right after this commercial break.  Or the hunters who genuinely believe they have superiority over the animals that they kill.  It’d be a little more impressive if it had been hand to hoof/paw combat, but somehow the technology involved leaves me just nodding my head with a look of feigned interest.

So during this season of many hunting seasons, I will reluctantly cheer on my hunter as he attempts to satisfy his internal drive to hunt wild animals.  I will eat the grouse, duck, deer and appreciate that he is providing food for our table.  However, I will probably still question the need for hunting in an agriculturally-advanced country and wonder just what it is in human’s DNA that drives them into the woods and onto the shore of the lake every fall in pursuit of animals that aren’t pursuing us.

“When I was twelve, I went hunting with my father and we shot a bird.  He was laying there and something struck me.  Why do we call this fun to kill this creature who was as happy as I was when I woke up this morning?” – Marv Levy

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Responses

  1. Julie, I know exactly where you are coming from on this. I think it is one of my dad’s biggest disappointments that I do not hunt (with him). I have been hunting in the past but just didn’t feel like pulling the trigger. Like you, I support hunting and don’t belittle people who do it. I do have an issue with those that tend to take too much pleasure from the actual killing. I keep my distance from those types.

  2. I’m the same way. I was a vegetarian for three years, and probably still would be if pigs weren’t so darned tasty. If I had to do the slaughter myself I definately would be, I feel guilty killing bugs. I don’t cook with meat very often because touching raw meat freaks me out. Since I had my daughter I have been worrying about when I have to explain to her what meat really is. Telling her that tasty burger is a ground up cow is definately not something I’m looking forward to.

  3. I’m the same way. I was a vegetarian for three years, and probably still would be if pigs weren’t so darned tasty. If I had to do the slaughter myself I definately would be, I feel guilty killing bugs. I don’t cook with meat very often because touching raw meat freaks me out. Since I had my daughter I have been worrying about when I have to explain to her what meat really is. Telling her that tasty burger is a ground up cow is definately not something I’m looking forward to.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

  4. I’m with you. And I’m married to a man who is even more that way than I am. But we both like to get out into the woods and on the lakes. The problem with taking a hike in the fall is the bird hunters. Well, we go anyway. And when we are putting our canoe into the water at a lake, the other boaters always look in our canoe and don’t see the fishing pole, and say with an odd tone of voice, “Are you fishing?” Like, “where’s your stuff?” I actually like fishing, but not the motor boat, et al.

    I’ve heard some hunter-guys say, “I really don’t care if I get anything. But it is a good excuse to get into the woods.” That’s what I don’t get: why do you need an excuse to walk in the woods? And why do people need a Tupperware party to to have an excuse to get together and yak? Just do it.

  5. I too have a difficult time understanding the high-powered hunters. I look at my fiance’s family – hunting in the mid-80s when Reserve shut down and grocery store meat was too expensive for a family with three boys – and I understand the connection, I see the tradition of deer camp and the spirituality of being in the woods, the primal side, etc…. But then I watch Ted Nugent-style hunters and I scratch my head. “Look at this beautiful creature… BAM!” I guess I must lack the “satisfaction from hunting” gene too.

    At least you eat the game. I have tried to develop a taste for it and have failed.

  6. I grew up in a die-hard hunting family, but the kind that ate what they killed… the kind that bonded each year at deer camp… the kind where the ladies would make the deer runs… the kind where there was always hot food waiting for the return from a full day out in the stand… I don’t hunt but my husband does. I support him entirely and find myself saying, “yeah, sure. I’ll hunt this year if it works out,” knowing that somehow, it just won’t work out again this year. With that said, my appreciation of the sport of hunting was almost completely annialated about 8 years ago when I was watching a hunting show where these guys were going bison hunting. They walked right up to the biggest one, point blank range, with a pistol, and fired like 5 shots to get the thing to go down. I could not believe this was on TV. First off a pistol? Next, a submissive animal in complete comfort of humans? Then to use such a low powered weapon? I teared up at that moment, and long after I switched the channel, that image stayed right in the front of my mind.

  7. As you know I do some hunting when I can (when you-know-who’s list isn’t 10 miles long) though I’m nowhere near as serious about it as your boy, and after thinking about why I do it, here are some of my reasons: It is the one area where no matter how my day/week/month has been, I am in complete control and I get to decide things. It makes you more alert, more aware you are alive. There’s also the adrenaline rush of a quickly flushed bird and only getting one shot at it. The anticipation of waiting for that creature rustling in the brush to identify itself through sight or sound. There’s probably more reasons but those are a few off the top of my head.

  8. Sorry everyone that I didn’t respond to these comments earlier. These were awesome comments and I want to thank all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts 🙂


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