Explaining hunting to non-hunters
By Ball Gary
A man I admire very much, a passionate hunter, wildlife scientist, scholar and teacher perhaps sums it all up best in a line which ends virtually all of his correspondence, e-mail or snail-mail.
He writes: "For those who understand, no explanation is necessary and for those who do not, none is possible."
This is a pretty blunt encapsulation of the thinking hunter's dilemma. How do we explain hunting to non-hunters?
I've spent a lot of time in my life trying to explain the gap which divides those of us who hunt and those who do not hunt. I'm not sure that I have had any success at all, despite all that I have written. Almost invariably, those who don't like hunting focus on killing, on taking the life of a living creature. When I try to explain hunting, I focus on almost everything but the actual killing. To kill or not to kill is the question which divides us, and one which will likely continue to divide us.
I am the descendant of generation upon generation of successful hunters. When I hunt, I connect in a deliberate and conscious way with my ancestors, my heritage and my environment. I am the only creature in the planet's food chain capable of making a reasoned decision to take or to spare the life of another creature. I am the only predator in the ecosystem with a rational understanding of my impact upon that system. I am the only predator capable of deliberately choosing to assist in the survival of another species. I make those choices because I am a hunter, because I am connected with my ecosystem in the most intimate way, through the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
I know first hand where the meat on my table comes from.
I am not isolated from the food chain by an assembly line of hired hands: producers, slaughterhouse workers, butchers, packers, truckers and supermarket owners. I am aware of how and why wild things die.
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