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Brad Eden

Sentiments on Killing

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Brad Eden

This subject raises its sometimes ugly head every so often on the board. When it does it reveals the differing sentiments and opinions hunters have concerning how they feel about killing game. Some feel a great deal of remorse when they kill a Woodcock but not a turkey or when they kill a doe vs a buck deer. Some fill a freezer with game birds but have issues with someone who goes on safari and takes a trophy Kudu. Some frown at the scruffy smiling deer hunter holding a bucks head that has a bloody tongue lolling out--yet smiles at the photo of a well decked out bird hunter next to his dog that has a mangled Pheasant in its maw.

Some argue 'all of us hunters' should support each other cuz the big bad media and anti's are out to get all of us and take away our guns. Maybe that's true to an extent but is impossible to accomplish.

I personally don't know what the deer hunter or bird hunter or big game hunter or predator hunter is thinking so cant judge whether they feel "sufficiently" contrite or not. And is it really any of my affair? I think killing a critter is a personal thing and the sentiments attached can and do evolve as a hunter matures and ages.

Frankly, I work my ass off for every Maine Whitetail buck I shoot and every grouse I take--and for every turkey most times too. I feel more proud and satisfied than I do sad or remorseful. I have my own little ceremony where I stop and thank the red gods of hunting over the buck and always handle and sniff the wildness in a grouses' feathers and let the dog snuff it up before carefully putting it in my vest. And I do get my fill of killing woodcock if we are having an overly fruitful fall.

It's interesting how people feel differently about this stuff. Do some people feel worse about killing a free ranging Maine Whitetail then they do the managed buck they shot on a preserve in Texas? Do some go down on one knee in prayer when holding a limp grouse in hand yet stuff a preserve pheasant into their game pouch with hardly a look?

I am sitting here trying to figure it all out. ???

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PartridgeCartridge

It is so confusing to me sometimes that I have stopped trying to figure it out and just accept the fact that I do kill things. And I also accept the fact that I have killed many, many things.

I also accept, and no longer question why certain animals don't "feel" good to kill as I am powerless not to persue those critters too. I'm hard wired to hunt and gather.

I am firmly grounded in who I am as a participant in blood sports. I can't change that. Nor would I try.

Sometimes the questions and the answers are just too  blurred to comprehend.

There is a certain serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

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patriot

Yes, a little sad when I admire what a beautiful bird God made.............and it tastes sooo good!

We are at the top of the food chain.

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Guest

I always feel some remorse yet I love hunting.  I am a hunter, not a bird watcher.  Although I do watch wildlife, it is a part of my hunting even when I am not hunting.  I study my prey in books and in the field.  

These types of conflicts are just part of being human kind of like the pro-life people who are for capital punishment or the pro-choice people who won't give me achoice as to what I have in my gun cabinet.  It can't be explained, it is a gut level type of thing.

There is also an irrational quanity type of thing for me.  For some reason there is an invisible line over whch the killing is excessive.  I am not talking about exceeding the legal limit, it is different from that.  It seems to me that at some point it becomes pathological but I can't articulate where that line is.  Like pornography, I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Dave

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K dog
This is a subject I have a hard time explaining to people who inquire or even in my own head for that matter.  I grew up a farm girl.  My Dad was a hunter as well so animals, while wll cared for and respected were part of the circle of life.   Being the animal lover that I am and always have been, many find it strange that I also kill.  It depend on the animal, I can shoot ground hogs all day with no remorse.  They are a crop farmers nightmare.  I don't care to shoot does, but have several times because of the NJ earn-a-buck program and really didn't like the feeling.  Shooting a buck is different for me, I feel pride, a thrill, but I always say a thankful prayer for each animal.  I would never take a fox, coyote, wolf, bear.  I have no problem with it (I'm married to a trapper), it's just not in my heart.  To each his own, live and let live.  Be an ethical hunter within the law and make no apologies.

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Greg Hartman

Well, I can only speak for myself.

When I was young, I didn’t think much about it one way or the other.  In the rural PA Dutch culture, animals and one’s food are closely connected; also, in that culture, there was no such thing as “teenagers” and “little kids” who are somehow expected and allowed to be troublesome parasites.  Kids are seen as small adults and are expected to contribute to the family effort to the extent of their physical abilities.  So, when it was time for chicken dinner, the kid was handed the hatchet and sent out in the yard to “catch” a chicken.  The steers and hogs were mostly raised and cared for by the kids and they all had names.  They were all eventually butchered and eaten, too.  Cruelty was never tolerated, but killing wasn’t something you thought about – it was just one of the everyday chores.  Of course, when we had to put a pet down (in those days, you did this yourself – no vet), you felt bad about that.

I read the stories of the African hunters and dreamt of hunting those animals one day, but for someone of my background and means, Africa was as unreachable as Mars.  I also read the stories of WWII fighter pilots, Marines in teh Pacific, Patton’s Army fighting through Germany, the 101st and 82nd, etc, etc.  Those guys were my heroes.  Almost all of the men I knew were WWII vets and they talked about “the war” frequently - it was the biggest and most exciting thing that had ever happened to them.  My nearly always absent biological father was a vet, too.  It was said that “the war’ made him the way he was (but I believed then and still today that he was just a mean, vicious and evil SOB and that “the war” had nothing to do with that).  

As a young man, I cheerfully hunted and killed everything and anything I could hunt with zero thoughts of remorse.  I was also a gun crank (tho’ I couldn’t afford any decent guns).  Then Vietnam came along and I actually signed up for the Army (being an unsophisticated rural kid who grew up on WWII stories, unlike the more aware city kids who understood what was really happening) – partly I was excited and anxious to “do my duty” and partly I wanted to earn the GI Bill - my only hope for an education.  At first, I went about my task with great enthusiasm as only an invulnerable young man glowing with the rightness of his cause can do.  I won’t go into detail about this, but at some point I began realize what we were doing was wrong at every level and the gungho young sergeant eventually became a major troublemaker and rebel, but there was no real escape from the bowels of the Green Machine other than to survive until one’s enlistment was up.  When I finally got out, a buddy and I started an investigation that put our CO in Leavenworth and I hope the bastard is still there or dead.  

When I finally got out of the Army, I was an utterly and irrevocably changed person.  Among many other things, I felt very different about the value of life and about the taking of life.  It was anything but the casual thing it had been “before”.  I vowed that I would not use my considerable skills and experience with weapons to kill again.  It didn’t take long, however, until the wild places and dogs I so loved began to call to me again.  I slowly got back into hunting, but I never lost all of those bad feelings (terrible feelings actually) that would come flooding back to me when I killed something other than birds.  I did all sorts of things for years to try to grow away from those ancient bad feelings – for example, learning how to make flintlock rifles, so I could use them to hunt big game and feel good about the process, but after a while I realized that I was forever changed and that I am just not able kill critters (other than birds) without feeling bad about it.

I cannot explain why killing birds doesn’t make me feel bad – maybe some sort of unconscious compromise with my soul – “OK, I know you love wild places, dogs and guns, so I’m gonna allow you to hunt and to enjoy hunting, but only so long as you never kill anything besides birds.”  Maybe my inability to kill stuff other than birds without feeling bad about it is some sort of cosmic punishment for what I did all of those years ago.  I dunno – it’s just the way it is.

I do know, however, that I can kill a mountain of birds and not feel bad in any way (of course, I do not tolerate any sort of unnecessary suffering, even in birds).  Since we live in the middle of superb deer hunting country, now and then I will kill a deer because it is wounded or something.  When I do, all of those bad old feelings come storming back to me.

As I tried to say in the original Scottyboy thread that was deleted, I have no problem whatsoever with others hunting big game, as long as it is fair chase and there is no unnecessary cruelty involved.  I also know that game populations need to be managed, which I why I allow some selected folks to hunt deer on my land each year.  But, it’s not for me.

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lee sykes

I hunt and consequently, I kill.

but I wouldn't walk across the street just to kill something.

I want to love the country in which I hunt and work hard to get the shot.   I don't care much for simply shooting if it involves live targets.  

I have no interest in letting someone else do the hunting in order that I may do the shooting.  

Shooting at the end of a successful hunt, is fulfilling.

Shooting just to shoot something is just boring or in some cases, just sad.  

When I see people express exuberance over simply killing something,  they seem insensitive to me.  I dislike seeing any creature lose its' life.  The price I pay to be a hunter.

There is nothing wrong with feeling pride after a successful hunt but I never assume that all will share it.

To me, it's a personal joy, mixed with whatever sadness I may feel.  It's not something that I care to share with the whole world nor would I expect my enthusiasm to be contagious.  

We all have our standards of what constitutes sport.

If your standards don't measure up to mine, don't expect me to be happy for you when you kill something.

I don't owe anyone that nor do I expect that from others.

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Guest
It might sound contrary, but I don't really hunt for the killing. I hunt for the process, the places it takes me, the things it encourages me to pay attention to, the dog, and because I think procuring food locally, even if it doesn't come close to providing for all our needs, is still a good and important thing to be able to do. When I do kill, I try to do it with a respect for life. I don't kill things I don't plan on eating. I've had some  great days of hunting and come home with an empty game bag.

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wisturkeyhunter
I feel satisfied when I kill something. Turkey, deer, grouse, pheasant, etc it dosen't matter. I'm out there to enjoy my self and the goal is to come home with something. As far as how some guys judge other for hunting one game when they hunt another. I think as long as they are acting in a sporting manner they have every right to hunt the game they want. One thing that annoys me about guys on internet hunt boards is when somebody questions there methods somebody will always say "as long as its legal its ok". Thats one statement that couldn't be further from the truth. Plenty of legal hunting methods that are far from sporting.

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mshowman

I feel respect for the game I take. I'm not really sad but you'll never find me jumping up and down shaking my fist and yelling, either. I do  straighten feathers or fur before putting the game in my vest but, to me, that's just the respectful thing to do.

I felt bad and somewhat angry when I ran over the neighbor's cat a few weeks ago. And I don't even like cats! I felt bad that it died needlessly and I felt angry because the neighbor should have been more responsible than to let the pet run in the road. I didn't dwell on it.

But then what about the wasps that I step on when they crawl out from between the boards on my deck? It is satisfying to kill those little bastards! No remorse here when those little suckers crunch.

I figure its my job to hunt ethically, kill humanely, and treat any game I take with respect. It doesn't matter if it is a deer, turkey, rabbit or quail, wild or preserve. I'm comfortable with that.

BTW, for whatever reasons, my feelings have changed over the years.

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Wisconsin

Oh boy...Brad

I'll pass at this time - then pull the trigger when I'm sitting by the woodstove with a drink in my hand.........

Ken

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Guest

Respecting game is the key for me.  It's not about killing, it's about the big picture.  The hunt & the experience is more important than outcome.  It's definitely personal -- my standards maybe below or above another's from their perspective and it's not for either of us to judge.  However, I do seek kinship and shared values in those with which I like to hunt.  Or play golf.  Or which soccer teams I've played for.

Do I feel remorse?  Often, yes.  Not all the time.  It's not for any type of game.  For instance, I'd shoot a wild hog or a coyote and likely just feel glad that I was successful.  Knocking down a woodcock in a lean year my have another effect.  During a plentiful year, no effect even though it's the same quarry.  But always, I like to think I respect the fact that I get to have the hunting experience even though there may not be any sadness for the outcome.

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nobirdshere

I feel a sense of regret killing woodcock and only have the stomach to kill a handful a year. I have less of this sense with grouse and for whatever reason, little to none with pheasants (probably because I consider them to be an non-native invasive). I am not a big game hunter, but have put down a couple of deer hit by cars (one that I hit).

I am not sure there is any real difference between killing a fish, grouse, deer, bear, cow or elephant, but there are certain animals I simply have no desire to personally kill and I wouldn't do it.  

Regarding the "all of us hunters" thing, there are certain practices that I simply cannot abide and find embarrassing. I will happily advocate for one's "right" and ability to hunt, but not necessarily using certain methodologies. I won't bother to laundry list some of the things I find distasteful or don't conform with my personal sense of hunting ethics.

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rprovines

I'm going to answer the question posed by the post and not going to read anyone else's replies, that's your business.

I killed a lot of things in my life; hogs, chickens, tame rabbits, a few lambs, and cattle on the farm. Varmints, feral dogs and cats, game critters both feathered and furred.

I've never liked, and have felt bad, about having to finish off mammals I've wounded, birds not so much. Killing animals doesn't bother me. My wife is bad about attributing human characteristics to animals, makes me crazy.

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Russell

I hunt becuase I have a deep rooted instinct to do so. I do not come from a hunting family. Since I grew up on a farm, while sad, death was part of every day life. When I was younger, death was less thought about then it is now. I think the problem some people get is actually putting a face with the meat that you are eating. It is much easier to go to the grocery store and grab a steak and not think about the cow it came from. When you are gutting a deer or bird, the life of that animal is very "real". Heck, I even have feelings when I cut down a large maple or oak. That tree had life and is weather the seasons to survive but the death of that tree is surving a purpose.

In short, we are complex creatures that use emotions to deal with every day life. The difference between hunters and non hunters is the ability to control their emotions and to seperate emotions from the reality of the life cycle.

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