Killing to hunt, not hunting to kill

November 17, 2011


Responding to Hayward Putnam's article on luring deer, Aegis reader Barbara Izzo writes that while she is "prepared to be chided for [her] naivete," her suspicions were confirmed in Mr. Putnam's last sentence, in which he claims "Learning to call the deer in can be as much fun as shooting them."

To that I say, "Ms. Izzo, in this case I am afraid I cannot find fault in your suspicions." Well, that is not entirely true.

As a long-time deer hunter, I can honestly state while I am a firm believer in the maxim stated by early 20th Century Spanish philosopher and hunter José Ortega y Gasset in the 1972 tome 'Meditations on Hunting' ("One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted" ), it is indeed "fun" to utilize one's skills and knowledge to fool a whitetail's unbelievably keen senses of smell, hearing and sight in order to allow it to come within range of a killing shot.

Unfortunately, Mr. Putnam's turn of phrase could be interpreted by some as sounding as if shooting deer was "fun" as say, shooting clay pigeons or tin cans is fun. While it saddens me at times that hunters must take special care in their choice of words lest the PC crowd twist the meaning into something malicious and obscene, I can say that in this case, Ms. Izzo's interpretation of Mr. Putnam's words could easily have been taken out of context.

Ms. Izzo, the various reasons that you say you have heard as to why hunters hunt are indeed true. I do consider myself a steward of the land, as do the vast majority of hunters I know. We partake in the serious responsibility of game management by helping to keep whitetail deer numbers in check, in order to protect and preserve our forests and watersheds from over browsing, by preventing deer/automobile accidents that injure and kill our fellow citizens and lessening the impact on agriculture and farmers' livelihoods by decreasing overall deer numbers, etc.

Being able to provide fresh, tasty (and 100 percent natural) venison for our families' tables is a bonus. But to me, the true enjoyment is immersing myself into the natural world as my ancestors once did, pitting my skills and knowledge against an animal who knows the fields and forests better than I know the inside of my own home.

In closing, I will say that I have witnessed the complete and total slaughter of 32 ducklings killed in one night by foxes - all of which were ripped to shreds and left uneaten. Foxes will most certainly kill "just for fun." Nature is not a Buena Vista production.

Brian D. Hess


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