I am writing this column with some trepidation. And this necessary preface is to show you, dear readers, that I am not a heartless fool.
Well, maybe a fool. Sometimes. But back to the issue at hand:
Dave Petzal is a long-time outdoors writer who sprinkles his commentaries in monthly issues of Field and Stream. One recent piece is entitled "In the presence of Death."
Here are some of his most recent comments pertaining to those who hunt wild game and subsequently jump up and down after a kill is made.
Here we go:
"One of the things I talked about on this season's Gun Nuts is an (apparently) common ritual on many of the TV hunting shows. When hunter and guide (or whomever) walk up on some poor dead beast the likes of which you and I will never see, and which they have killed inside of 26 minutes, they exchange High Fives and a hearty "Yay, Hah", like one of them just rode the late Bodacious for 8 seconds and lived to tell about it."
Petzal continues, "Now call me old, mean, and cranky, but I think this shows about the same attitude toward animals as the kids who think that meat comes from the supermarket wrapped in cellophane. It does not. It comes from an animal who spent its last moments alive bawling in terror in a slaughterhouse."
"If you are one of the High Five set, a reminder: The animal at your feet over which you exchange hand slaps is not there voluntarily. It spent its last day on earth hoping at whatever level animals hope that it would live another day. Given a choice, it would not have given up its life to make you joyful. Other, very diverse, hunting cultures do not slap hands and yodel.
"I've seen Bakwena tribesmen in Botswana throw a handful of sand on the hooves of a departed beast and murmur a prayer thanking it for the gift of its life. In Germany, at the end of a hunt, there is an elaborate torchlight ceremony in which the day's bag is laid out in rows, and honored en masse.
"I have nothing against a handshake and a 'Good shot,' or something like that, but it should be tempered by the realization that being alive is something of a miracle and that death is the opposite of a miracle. In other words, show a little respect."
I strongly believe his essay is a true reflection of a good and decent hunter.
I am not here to insult those of you who are ardent hunters. I am not anti-gun nor anti-hunting. What I object to is the circus-like behavior and sometimes staged camera shots you often see on some of the outdoor-oriented cable channels.
I rarely watch any of those channels, especially the ones where some clown dons his camo gear and pretends to be Daniel Boone, stalking his next meal.
I hunt pheasant, doves, quail, wild turkey, ducks and geese because I am able to bring home the game for a special treat for the table.
The same holds true for me in the fishing department. I sometimes bring home panfish and always release bass and walleyes. And I do that because I personally fish for the fun and experience.
•Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.