It Is Not That I Hunt, But That I Go Hunting

Last week I met a husband and wife in a local grocery store. The kind lady said she liked my columns on kayaking and the outdoor ventures to some amazing places, but not about hunting and killing animals.

“Why do you hunt animals?” she asked.

I replied, “It’s not that I hunt animals, but rather that I go hunting.”

Then I pointed to two steaks in her basket and informed her that when I kill an animal, it is for meat much like the steaks in her grocery basket.

I gently observed that the animal that provided those steaks may previously have been loaded with all sorts of growth hormones, taken to a meat packaging company, where it had ropes put around its hind legs, was shot in the head with a .22 stunning bullet, hung up with its throat slit so it could bleed thoroughly, then chopped into roasts and steaks before ending up in her grocery basket.

She looked at the steaks, then at her husband. Fortunately, the clerk put my groceries through and I walked out of the store. My bet is that that woman is now a vegetarian!

There is a psychological point to going hunting – and even fishing. It is not that you got a deer or a moose, or a fish, it is that you went hunting.

Hunting is more than just getting some game meat. Going hunting is experiencing all the blessings of the out-of-doors. It is a place of serenity, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

es, you are looking for game animals and you are looking at everything that moves in the backlands.

Within minutes the buzz of daily life is gone, gone, replaced with a silence known only to the people who venture into the backlands.

The conversation between those who go hunting is not about politics, health problems or about other people. Now the stories come out about other hunts, fishing trips or some unexpected incident that seems to always happen on an outdoors trip, especially hunting and fishing trips.

Close to 60 years ago I took up bow hunting small game such as rabbits. When I was 26, I was fortunate enough to get a bull moose, my first with either a bow or a rifle.

Each year, we had been tracking an exceptionally large moose with a huge rack. My other archery friends and I tracked this big trophy, and were even once put into the water when it surprisingly charged us out of nowhere.

We were determined to get this animal with the bows. Before the next year’s hunt, I had a little accident and could not pull my 70-pound pull recurve and took my 30:06 rifle.

On the afternoon of our last chance to get this giant, we started back down the river to our vehicles. We were on the right side of the rapids when we saw him on the other side of the river at about 250 yards.

We knew this would be our last hunt in this area so the others agreed I should take him with the rifle. We pulled ashore and I rested my rifle on a stump. It looked as if we were finally getting this animal we had tracked for three years – it was but a simple pull of the trigger.

I looked through the scope and put the crosshairs directly on the heart area. The world seemed to go silent as I watched for the perfect second to add a slight pressure to the trigger.

Never in my years as a hunter or a conservation officer had I ever seen anything close to this prized animal. The racks were perfect. He was large and the racks would measure high in count. It was a trophy anyone would wait a lifetime to get. A minute passed, then two minutes, and finally I raised my head and said, “I can’t pull the trigger, guys.”

Now everybody started to breathe again and we just sat there admiring this giant of an animal.

The cameras had been packed away to protect them from the bouncing of the canoes. Of course, by the time we reached the bottom of the Ten Mile Rapids in Northern Ontario, most things not carefully packed away would be wet, including all the people in the three canoes.

Consequently, no pictures were taken, but memories of that trophy animal still remain very clearly in my mind.

That was the last time we hunted the Ten Mile Rapids. No, we did not get our moose that year, but it was one of the best hunts we had ever been on.

Once again, it is not that we went hunting and got our game, but rather that we went hunting.

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