Try trail running instead of hunting

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 02:22:14 PM. I’d like to say that, just as I support the right of hunters to hunt — legally and within the limits of the law — I hope those reading this column will likewise support my right to express my opinion.

This column is not the column I intended to write this week, and I am braced for the barrage of dissenting replies it may elicit, but I am, after all, entitled to my opinion. So, here goes: Hunting is not a sport.

Perhaps it can be defined as a hobby or an activity, but not a sport.

The word “sport” is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

I have friends who are hunters that have told me that walking through the woods — and perhaps even dragging a dead carcass across a field — qualifies as physical exertion. They would also argue that tracking an animal indeed involves a certain level of skill.

But this is not enough to convince me that hunting is a sport or, more importantly, why anyone would want to do it. To this, my hunter friends will also wax poetic about being one with nature, and the tranquility of the forest at dawn.

Tranquil, that is, until a shot rings out, shattering the lovely peace with a life-ending bullet.

First I’d like to say that, just as I support the right of hunters to hunt — legally and within the limits of the law — I hope those reading this column will likewise support my right to express my opinion. And this is how my opinion was first formed: my father used to hunt.

Less for the “thrill of the kill,” than for the camaraderie with his fellow hunters. He even taught our Golden Retriever how to carefully retrieve fowl by filling a tube sock with nails so she would learn to use a “soft mouth” when retrieving dead birds.

My dad didn’t enjoy the “killing,” but justified it by using the spoils to feed our family.

My mother became adept at preparing rabbit or squirrel stew and venison, none of which any of us particularly liked, but it nonetheless filled our bellies.

In this capacity, I can almost envision hunting involving some mix of skill, dignity, and necessity, when a human armed with a basic weapon — such as a simple bow and arrow — tracks an animal, makes a clean kill, and uses the meat for food, simultaneously keeping the animal populations in check.

But this illusion was somewhat shattered the morning that I, as a teenager, opened the blinds on the sliding glass doors of our walkout basement to see three deer carcasses — freshly gutted — swinging from their necks, the ropes tied to the underside of the deck. It was the very definition of death at my doorstep, and it left a sick feeling in my stomach the entire day.

I still shudder at the memory of the gory sight.

One of these poor souls eventually graced our wall, its majestic head stuck to a board, its upturned hooves holding the very bow used to end its life. My father had gotten his first buck.

And what was once a beautiful, graceful animal grazing in the forest, had become a horrific homage to death mounted on our basement wall. Even our Golden Retriever was afraid to sleep in that basement, the deer’s sad, dead, taxiderm-ied eyes following her every move.

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series about hunting.

FSK blanks Walkersville to win 1A West title CAPTION

The Eagles won their first region crown in 21 years.

The Eagles won their first region crown in 21 years.

FSK blanks Walkersville to win 1A West title CAPTION

The Eagles won their first region crown in 21 years.

The Eagles won their first region crown in 21 years.

Westminster volleyball CAPTION

Westminster sophomore Jilienne Widener talks about reaching the Class 3A state championship game.

Westminster sophomore Jilienne Widener talks about reaching the Class 3A state championship game.

Winters Mill field hockey CAPTION

Winters Mill senior Karlie Pruitt talks about playing in the county senior all-star game.

Winters Mill senior Karlie Pruitt talks about playing in the county senior all-star game.

Makenzie Hopkins finishes third in 2A state meet CAPTION

Hopkins chats with us about her performance and her first experience on Hereford’s course.

Hopkins chats with us about her performance and her first experience on Hereford’s course.

Liberty boys win third straight state title CAPTION

Liberty's John LeMaster and Dan Saxon chat with us

Liberty's John LeMaster and Dan Saxon chat with us

sports@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7896

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