Growing up in rural Wisconsin, I was an always outcast during hunting season. I did not see the point in killing deer when Food Mart had plenty of good meat. I formed opinions about hunting based on stereotypes and ignorance.
It was easier to maintain my position in college. Radical thinkers, vegetarians, falafel carts…all a stark contrast to my small town. I aligned with liberals who shunned hunting.
Yet, I ate meat. I cut back due to the tumbleweeds in my wallet, but never have I been a vegetarian.
Can you say hypocrite?
The sister factor
When my sister moved to some serious acreage and began to hunt her land, it messed with my mind. The negative stereotype I relied on to support my point was in jeopardy. Here was my number one gal, a wildlife ecologist with cupboards full of organic food, downing a ten-point buck on her back forty with pink arrows.
My sister, a pro on biodiversity and environmental issues, asked this omnivore, why is it easier for you to swallow a farmed animal than a hunted one?
The hunting hybrid
We replaced hunting with ranching to meet growing population needs. Hunting opponents now argue we don’t need hunting for sustenance. I grew to believe farmed meat was the more ethical choice.
Enter Food, Inc and other probes into the food industry….
My sister represents an emerging “hunting hybrid”, the blend of traditional hunter and liberal environmentalist. The hybrid acknowledges a cohesive relationship exists between hunting and sustainability, and advocates for both. I now recognize hunting as a viable, low-impact option for free-range meat.
Forgive me, hunters from my past. You probably knew this all along.
Destructive hunting does happen and it gets all the press. I used to employ these stories to prove my anti-hunting point.
Most hunters I know are smart, humble folks who respect animals and the earth. People who say, “If you do not feel sadness and gratitude for the life you took, you shouldn’t be hunting”. Hunting is not the chaotic bloodfest opponents portray. It is usually calm solitude. My sister, an avid yogi, says hunting is the closest she has come to a true meditative state.
Stereotypes work both ways. Not all liberals hug trees. Lots sit in tree stands. Hunters AND environmentalists tend to get misrepresented by a small, annoyingly vocal minority.
With the arm strength of a newt, I do not hunt. My mister draws the bow. I still have my opinions. I support hunting that puts food on the table, not heads on the wall. I prefer bow over gun hunting. It’s quieter and evens the playing field.
But I am proof that we can change misguided opinions, not stubbornly cling to them. I learned much from both worlds.
Hunters want to protect the ecosystems they hunt in. They are locavores who feed their families free-range meat. They maintain a fading cultural tradition. Environmentalists have valid concerns about the consequences of messing with nature. Examining these does NOT always imply a threat to hunting rights.
Both worlds strive for habitat preservation. And I’m a big fan of common ground. Let’s give this shared interest more press.
Where do you stand?