I received another comment from an anti-hunter yesterday.  It was loaded with filthy language and curses, so I deleted it as I will do with any such comment to this blog.  And all would have been well, and maybe should have been, but it just caught a nerve somewhere and I couldn’t let it go.

In short, amidst the pre-teen cursewords, the writer took me and all hunters to task with the same old cliches… heartless, blood-thirsty, and cruel.  The comment closed with another cliche, the wish that “someone” would hunt, kill, and skin us like we do the poor animals we terrorize.  It was really sort of cartoonish, and at first all I could do was shake my head.

But I sat around thinking today, and with nothing better to do, scribbled down this rejoinder.

Who are you to judge me? 

What right do you have to call me names like “murderer”, “cruel”, and “sadistic”?  Do you know me?  Have you met me, or have you ever witnessed my daily actions?  Were you there when I shed bitter tears over the grave of my old dog, the companion of many years?  Did you share in my tangled emotions as I pulled the trigger on a bull elk, or as I ran my hands reverently over the soft fur that later became a blanket for my sleeping child?  Did you hear as I spoke softly and calmly, words of reassurance to ease the passing of a road-killed doe, holding her big head in my lap as the heartbeat raced, then idled, then stopped forever? 

And what of you? 

Do you live in this modern world?  Nearly every action of every human animal has a direct and fatal effect on scores of non-human animals.  By walking on a sidewalk or a path, driving on a highway, or eating tofu and sprouts, our actions… YOUR actions… result in the death of living things.  And for the most part you are either ignorant or callously blind to this thing.  Which is it?  Ignorance or denial? 

You claim to care about my killing.  What about your own?  Yes, you, who claim to wish my very death… to deprive my wife of her lover and my child of her father… do you believe your hands are clean of blood?  Is this the lie you tell yourself to make your days bearable? 

Yet I… who take direct responsibility for the death of an animal to feed me and accept my role as another animal in this earthly abode… I am the “monster”? 

If you would take the premise that life is sacred, then it stands to reason that all life is sacred.  Do you live as the Jains, going to extremes to avoid the injury or death of any living thing?  Or do you draw your own, arbitrary lines between what is acceptable to kill and what is not?  Is it OK to crush a cockroach or swat a fly for no reason other than it’s being a nuisance, yet it is is a sin and a crime to kill a deer for a season’s worth of meat?  Is that your reasoning? 

For me, the sanctity of life is not restricted to the magnificent and beautiful, or the cuddly and cute.  Every life is equally precious, even the hideous and horrifying.  The smallest as well as the giant is important.  And I recognize that, as another animal, I take my place somewhere in the midst of this organization.  For me to live, many living things must die.  And when I die, I will nourish many living things. 

Where do you fit in?  Are you animal, or are you not?

This is the problem with the fantasy in which you, the anti-hunter, live.  It’s an arbitrary construct that has no basis in the reality of nature.   You do not have the right to pick and choose.  If it is wrong for me to hunt and kill, then it is equally wrong for the lion, the wolf, or the falcon. 

If I am wrong for taking careful aim at a single boar, then you are equally wrong for the millions of insects that die on the windshield of your car… more wrong, for the fact that you either don’t realize or don’t care that it’s happening.  And wrong again, if you judge those living things to be lesser than the boar, the elk, or the deer that a hunter will harvest.   You are most wrong, if you judge yourself to be higher than any of these. 

Either all life is sacred or it is not.  There is no dividing line… no list of sacred and profane when it comes to life.  The flea or the moose… the mouse or the rabbit…  they are all equally a part of the big picture.  If you would kill one, you would kill any of them. 

As humans, you and I are just a couple more creatures on this earth.  Our imagination, our sense of “reason”, our “intelligence”… they make us no different in the real natural world than any other animal.  We have no more rights, and no less.  Prey animals fear us and predators hunt us.  That is our place, and to believe otherwise is folly.