Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Killing Animals for Sport

I admit I sometimes struggle with the thought of killing an animal that I don’t intend to eat. I typically overcome these feelings when I know that the harvested animal will be used for some practical purpose. Bobcat, coyote and fox are all furbearing animals, killed mainly for the purposes of population control, furs for clothing or hunting for sport. In hunting there is no catch and release and when a sportsman wants to pursue an animal that is a challenge to stalk and kill, success in this endeavor occurs with the death of that animal. Sure, I could photograph these animals but for me, it just isn’t the same . . . it is like eating a delicious meal but not being allowed to swallow.

Hunting bobcats, coyotes and fox is an extremely challenging endeavor, typically with 100 hours of time invested before a hunter is even presented with a CHANCE to see one of these wily and elusive creatures. The season under which these animals are typically hunted is winter where hunters must sit motionless for hours, in extreme cold, sometimes in the dead of night for that minuscule 1% chance at success. Harvesting one of these furbearers is the ultimate test of a sportsmans skill, perseverance, patience and mental fortitude. It the achievement of this monumental challenge that is the ultimate reward. The last bobcat I harvested was in 2010 and that amazingly beautiful creature adorns a wall in my house. A permanent taxidermied trophy, my mind replays every moment of that hunt, every time I gaze upon it. The skins of several other fur bearing animals adorn the walls of my house and the number of taxidermied mounts I own is approaching the level of obsession.

My 2014 bobcat (Pictured Above) will be made into a very expensive rug that will never see a muddy boot tread upon it and will cost me more money than I make in two months of writing. It is the price I am willing to pay to ensue my trophies are remembered and honored in some special way.

 Lastly, I have mixed feelings about the obligatory photo of a hunter posed over a game animal that they have just harvested. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy pictures of young hunters smiling, posed next to their first deer or a proud hunter sitting beside that animal of a lifetime. I am not opposed to these photographs, I just tend to shy away from them, choosing to instead attempt to capture the animals end in the most respectful and picturesque way possible. Even with this statement, however, comes the fact that for an outdoor writer it is extremely difficult to build credibility, in the outdoor community, without proof of some level of hunting success and hunter success is typically documented with a picture of that sportsman posed next to their fallen quarry. In other words, if I write a story on shooting bobcats, I better have a picture of me sitting next to a bobcat as it is truly the only way to add credibility to a story.

 Thank you for listening to my short explanation. While it doesn’t throughly explain all the reasons why I hunt, I hope that for non-hunters my words help to better explain how the mind of this hunter works. No doubt some will look upon the killing of any animal that is not intended to be eaten as wasteful and the thought of pursuing animals for trophies just shy of obscene. Other people wear fancy shoes, flash expensive watches, dress in thousand dollar suits, drive sports cars and adorn themselves with diamonds and gold . . . I ask, are these “trophies” and “symbols of status” any more or less destructive than my collection of a few wild animals?

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