However, instead of making this huntress mad, an emotion none of y'all have seen, which is good because those who have equate my fury to a pugnacious hell tornado or miniature atomic bomb, these absurd threats have made me proud of this lifestyle. Proud of every kill, of every meal and prouder still that there are still those in the world still so far removed from the realities of life that hunting is that much of a threat.
I killed my first deer on a cold, dreary New York Thanksgiving many years ago. I keenly remember standing atop the massive, almost absurd tree stand, shaking. When I crept down to survey my handiwork, I fell apart. The guys around me were throwing their congratulations my way in a boisterous, celebratory manner but as their compliments rained down upon me, all I felt was deep, unending sadness. When it seemed clear that for the moment, I would not be joining in the frivolity, my boyfriend at the time sent the troops into the recesses of the woods to allow me time to process what had just happened.
At the time, I did not realize that the moment my finger squeezed that trigger, my life would never be the same. At the time, I did not realize that from that point forward, I would never see food the same way again.
I cried because I had never taken a life before that day. I had never, to quote Ron Swanson, "looked my dinner in the eye and considered the circle of life." To do that, all of it, for the first time in my life was heavy; big in a way that only an experience like that can be. I clearly recall bending over the fat doe, patting her big belly, and thanking God for putting her in my cross hairs, her for her sacrifice for my dinner table-- a prayer of thanks I've repeated without ceasing in the years since.
Back then, those who didn't understand my lifestyle would simply shake their heads or ignore the subject. When I began writing, I had many a conversation with people who had either never hunted or never wanted to. These exchanges were, on the whole, cordial. Thoughts were shared, discussed, and never once did the debate ever end with a death threat.
Those who are vehemently opposed to hunting exhaust all of their efforts by pounding angrily at keyboards, sending death threats across the internet waves in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, encouraging a random person that they'd never recognize in the streets, to kill themselves would somehow avenge the life of a deer that would most likely have been turned into a venison smoothie by an 18-wheeler on a highway anyway. Obviously, they could spend their time better by donating to conservation organizations that are largely supported by hunters or even donate their time to efforts assisting the animals they waste so much useless time defending on social media but that would be rational, an affliction that appears to be in short supply in today's unfortunate climate.
Many are saying these threats must stop. But I'm encouraging quite the opposite:
I say to you, Lord or Lady of Too-Much-Internet, Not-Enough-Research: keep the death threats coming! Just as Obama has become the biggest salesmen of guns the world has ever known, you, Pioneer of Wasting Oxygen, are breeding a population of the proudest hunters and huntresses in history, Yes, you, Queen and King of Vengeful Carpal- Tunnel, have begun a conversation about hunting that may have never been had you not chosen to chomp down on your overly-processed turkey leg while shaking your finger at a woman who killed and subsequently donated enough meat to literally feed an entire village! Bravo, you Gaggle of Tight-Walleted, Big-Mouthed peons--because of your lack of generosity, hunters, not death-threaters, act as the "primary source of funding for most state wildlife conservation efforts" (source)! Although there's mountains of evidence to the contrary, you Peaceful, Accepting Gargoyles continue to attempt to affect social change with death threats and name calling--an impressive amount of dedication to a useless practice! Congratulations to all of you, Hateful Ladies and Gentlemen, for encouraging individuals to take a good, long look at their dinner plates and see what hunters see--sacrifice, passion, devotion, and most of all, respect.
Keep living your life the way you choose, we won't bother you. We know you can't help but hate us, and that's understandable. I'd hate me too if I knew how amazing of a life I've had since the first squeeze of that trigger, the first realization that life is a full, but short and wondrous thing.