It’s a paradox: “You say you love animals but you kill them. Why?” If you’re a hunter and a non-hunter asked you this question, how would you respond?
Like many of us, I like to spend the last hour or so of the day with my feet up. I don’t have TV, but I do subscribe to Netflix as I enjoy watching some of the documentaries. Recently I watched a documentary called, Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story and knew immediately I had to share this gem with my hunting friends. If you have Netflix, I encourage you to stream it. If not, you can buy the documentary from numerous places online. Trailers are also available online. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story isn’t an apologetic or a defense of hunting, but a look at the “whys” of hunting. It’s a view of hunting from a number of diverse perspectives. It’s a walk along different paths. Perspectives are offered not only from hunters, but from a conservationist, a retired schoolteacher, a rancher, an environmental historian, a U.S. senator, and a vegan philosopher.
My non-hunting (but meat-eating) wife watched the film with me, and at one point she turned to me and asked, “Why do you hunt?” As I said, she’s not a hunter so she assumed a couple of the draws might be recreation, and spending time in the company of other hunters. She knows I love my almost-yearly retreat to elk camp, where I spend a couple of weeks living in a wall tent with a few friends. Her assumptions were correct, to a point, but there is more. I shared that many hunters consider hunting a solitary thing, and that is very much demonstrated in the film. Yes, I enjoy my time living in a wall tent with friends, but when we leave the tent in the grey predawn, we each go our separate ways, and solitarily filter back to camp in the failing light of the day to greet one another, share stories, and enjoy a hot meal cooked over a wood stove.
Back to the film, it did an admirable job of exploring hunting as a link between generations: The film noted that rarely does one take up hunting unless initiated by another, perhaps a father, an uncle, or in my case a good friend. One hunter shared, “I was introduced to it as an act of love for the natural world.” Responding to the hunter’s call is a coming of age for many, a demonstration of gaining enough maturity and understanding of fair-chase ethics culminating with the right to carry a deadly weapon.
And so we return to the paradox: “You say you love animals but you kill them.” Paradoxical, yes. But it is what it is. However, this leads me to ask a question: Why do YOU hunt? Consider leaving a comment. All perspectives welcome.