Even though I grew up in the country, I did not grow up in a household that hunted. In sixth grade when my classmates signed up for hunter-safety, I flatly refused even though I don’t think I was ever adamantly anti-hunting- that would have immediately rendered me a hypocrite due to my fondness for venison, biscuits and gravy. Killing was a part of my childhood- we raised cattle and sheep for the purpose of filling freezers (and the bank account). I fondly referred to market-day as ‘killing time’. I wasn’t completely desensitized though, I cried so hard when my spring lamb was sent away to meet its fate, I vowed never to do 4-H again due to its cruel, cruel nature (little did I know that you could still do 4-H and nothing had to die- e.g. chickens).
There was one point in college where for a consecutive 3 visits home there was something that had very recently been killed. Thanksgiving coincided with elk hunting season, and I distinctly remember the men-folk rallying to a fresh kill to haul a cow out of the forest to the barn to be hung, skinned and beheaded. I went out to spectate the cleaning process and watched with intrigue as a bonesaw was employed to do its job. Bonesaw easily became one of my favorite words for the next few months and I almost used it as part of my roller derby name.
Even though I grew up with the reality of death-to-animals-that-you-can-eat, I was wary around guns, and had never fired anything bigger than a bb gun until I was in college. I suppose you could say it’s been a downhill slide from there. Last summer I did some target shooting, and last weekend I made my first hunting trip to Wyoming to see if I couldn’t bag me a pheasant. I fully intended to firing my gun at a bird- even though it took me a couple of hours to warm up to the idea. I was mostly giddy about the fact that I was given a loaded gun to carry around.
My hunting party included Nic’s mom, Becky, and Cedar the vizsla. Nic was hunting with Mike and Stone the retriever. Walkie-Talkies were used to communicate position as well as to heckle the other hunting party after they fired and reported 0 birds down. By the afternoon, Nic had the only bird of all of us, and Cedar had only flushed about 3 birds. It was then that I realized that I might not get to shoot at anything and became a little irritated with myself and the dog- mostly on account of my competitive personality- but I quickly got over it.
Here’s something I learned about myself- I quite enjoy hunting. I now understand that hunting is a really good excuse to go for a walk, to hang out with your dog and to do some bushwhacking. Bringing home dinner is merely a bonus.