My childhood was full of cow, pig, and chicken. Did I ever think about the animal when I chowed down at family cookouts? Did I ever contemplate how our roast beast felt in the slaughterhouse? Did I attempt to commune with our fallen pig when we nestled into our Easter brunch? To each of these questions, I can confidently answer, no. I did not think about what I was eating, where it came from or how it would affect me in the future. I did not make a conscious decision to eat meat until I began hunting. The day my first deer fell, I made a commitment to, when possible, more frequently than not, eat only what I kill. While many live eating what they buy from grocery stores, some make another decision altogether.
I approached the table normally enough. It was a Saturday night, finally dying down. A four top sat down, ordered drinks and began perusing the menu. I came back with aforementioned drinks to the tune of an argument descending upon the table. One of the children, a statuesque redhead, was telling her father that she recently abandoned her vegetarianism in favor of begin a "pescitarian", or one who lives a meat-free lifestyle, except for fish or seafood. She claimed that since fish can't feel pain, it is more of a "peaceful, murder-free" life. I, generally, try to stay away from talks such as these but since the father was gregarious and asked me what my opinion was, I forsook my future tips in lieu of making my shift a little bit more interesting.
I'll pause here to explain that while many of my hunting brethren have an issue with vegetarians, their choices and how they could ever live sans meat, I do not. I, like many vegetarians or vegans, made a choice when we began to be conscious enough to notice the suffering that goes along with meat consumption in their respective nations. Furthermore, I, like many vegetarians or vegans, must face scorn for our respective choices. Hence, I respect those who make a choice either way. I respect the fact that vegetarians, vegans, and even the fish-eating redhead at table 3, make a stand for what they believe. I respect the groups even more if they use their lives as an example of the choice they've made. Finally, I respect the omnivores if they don't disrespect my choice.
At the patriarch's urging, I informed the girl that I applauded her choice. When the father inquired as to my title, what is it that I brand myself to proclaim to the world my dietary affiliations, I told him that I hunt. Initially, this didn't get the best reaction from the redhead at the table. She gasped in horror but it was only when I told her that I try to eat only what I kill and avoid anything produced from the mass-meat market, she started to understand. She told me that she had seen the terrible things that happen in slaughterhouses and she didn't want to add to the industry. After some good natured ribbing back and forth, she informed me that if she was allowed to kill her own meat, she would feel a lot better about it.
What this pescitarian was able to grasp is a concept that alludes many meat eaters when faced with a hunter. She understood that I was not out to murder anything or cause unnecessary pain and anguish. She, after some debate, also began to understand that the hunt she had previously thought as "unfair" is quite the opposite. (How hunting began to be "unfair" is completely beyond me. Sure, if I were hunting in fenced-in land meticulously controlled by the owner and guaranteed a kill then I can see the "unfair" part. If hunting were perpetually that "easy" then my tags would never go unfilled and I would feast upon wild game at will. However, animals, like humans, have keen survival instinct. They can smell, sense movement and know their land better than the hunter. Hence, the type of hunting that I partake in is better suited to the animal than to its hunter). I, on the other hand, also began to fully understand her plight. She, a high school student whose family buys meat in bulk at the grocery store, feels the way I do about how disassociated our society is in respect to how our meat comes to our tables. Instead of seeing the whole cow, pig, duck, or chicken, our society sees neat, prepackaged innards that resemble in no way the animal from which it came. Point this out to any meat eater who has not really contemplated their dietary choices, and they will either: a) not care b) begin to care c) attack whomever is clarifying his or her ignorant submission.
The girl and her family ate their vittles, drank their beverages, laughed, enjoyed the Duke/Carolina game, left a big tip and left many hours later. While I was tickled pink with their tip, I was equally as happy with the blog posting in the making.
A couple of weeks later, I received an e-mail form blogger, informing me that I had a new comment. The comment, I later learned, was from an irate "reader" (I used this term loosely as she or he appeared to have never actually read any of my writings and thus made the comment that much more absurd) who vehemently attacked my hunting practices. The extremely well-versed individual used brazen language to express his or her uneducated opinion about hunting, those who perform the act, and my writing in general (you can see the comment here). There were many ways I could have responded to the bright individual. I could've yelled, attacked her views, or call into question her dietary practices but I didn't. I saw her view as that of the ignorant meat eater, the only problem group I face when discussing my hunting habits, when she advised that I should "go to a ******* food store, it's not 1000 B.C anymore where people had to hunt to survive and even then meat was the wrong choice" to obtain my next meal. This, my dearest reader, is the reason why I prefer dialoging with vegetarians and vegans rather than those who, as we've already covered, eat the pretty prepackaged meat easily obtained at your local "food store".
I may have many faults but attacking those whose beliefs run opposite mine is not one of them. I understand that this is a debate that precedes me and will outlive me for centuries to come. With this post I yearn to simply tell my side, my perspective, the hunting perspective. It may not change your mind, rock your world or alter your life forever but maybe it will give you pause, a moment to reflect.
Please note: The views expressed in this post are mine alone. If you feel differently and are able to illustrate your views in an educated manner, please feel free to share them. Oh and please save the juvenile profanity for your next study hall period.
Please also note: The reason why I wrote "Taking the Road Less Traveled" was because I took on the title of Managing Editor for the North Carolina Huntography chapter. In addition, I am currently going for a new job in a far-away place. I'm still unsure as to how each of these are going to affect my writing but be rest assured that I will keep you informed!
Finally, please also note in this third installation of "The Writing Huntress Has A Lot To Say Today": The North Carolina Huntography page can be viewed here. Please check back often as that adventure will cover my hunting life in less words but with increased frequency.