Grand County " Hunting: Back in the crosshairs
Grand County, Colorado
Upon my return from a recent elk hunting trip, a colleague politely inquired whether I had “caught” an elk, which tickled me.
Catch-and-release elk hunting ” now there’s a concept for the times.
I had to respond that I thought catching an elk might be difficult and that, no, I had neither caught nor shot an elk, but thanks for asking.
Politics isn’t the only thing that divides Americans in the fall. Views about hunting have, it seems, become increasingly polarized between those who do and those who don’t. Although I stipulate my bias, from what I’ve seen the latter harbor more misconceptions about the former than vice-versa.
I say this with some certainty because I have been in both camps. While hunters can be dismissive about those who criticize the sport, non-hunters tend to romanticize wildlife and nature.
Like it or not, to be human is to be part of the food chain. Those who think they are morally superior because they allow someone else to provide the meat for the table are deluding themselves. Life operates on a brutally efficient calculus: In order for you to live, something else must die, even if it is only a plant.
Hunters understand this more intimately than non-hunters because they actively participate in the exchange. In the process, I think some of them develop a more finely tuned understanding of nature in general.
Hunting puts one inside nature. You can hike or climb or kayak or fish or snowshoe and become intensely attuned to the natural surroundings, but there remains a separation between the participant and the venue.
When you become a predator and the actions you take are irrevocable matters of life and death, you become part of the great cycle in a way that you cannot understand by merely observing. Doing so puts you in the moment and takes you out of your everyday self in a way few other things can.
Plus, hunters perform valuable functions such as controlling game populations and funding virtually every wildlife program in the nation through license fees and taxes on ammunition and gear.
I understand it’s not for everyone. It’s hard work and it isn’t easy to kill a magnificent animal. Many hunters realize that other people want no part of it. What they would like in return is to be respected and left alone.
But some people ” perhaps those who were traumatized by “Bambi” ” can’t resist vilifying hunters and trying to undermine the sport. They figure we could abolish hunting, reintroduce predators such as wolves and everything would be restored to a blissful state of nature.
While that may be true (though problematic) from a herd-management perspective, to think it is somehow more humane and progressive is utter nonsense.
Anyone who believes that has never seen an animal starve to death in the winter or killed over the course of several hours by a pack of wolves. Certainly a swift death from a well-placed bullet is a great deal more humane.
Then again, many hunters are like me ” we do it simply because we love to eat elk and the notion of filling the freezer with meat is compelling, particularly these days. My only problem is I haven’t figured out yet how to just “catch” one.
” Drew Munro is news editor of the Sky-Hi Daily News. He can be called at 887-3334, ext. 19610, or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
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