Skipping to the Last Chapter

A clean kill of a game animal is of course the hoped-for goal of a fair chase hunt. But as anyone who spends time afield knows, there’s a lot more to hunting than just the kill. Pulling the trigger is, in fact, only a small portion of a tradition where the accent has long been on conserving our natural resources and respecting the game we pursue.

Making hunting all about the kill—allowing a kill to not only define the hunt but us as hunters—passes over so much of the story it is like skipping to read the last chapter of a book. Context is lost. We don’t know who the characters are, their background, experiences or what motivates them. Was there any preparation? Where there any decisions made, problems solved, or challenges overcome? Was there a hunt, any strategy involved, or did the animal just appear and stand there? Were other animals seen, but passed up? Had this animal been seen before? Was he any bigger from last year? The list of what is lost is long as well.

Making the kill the “everything” in a hunt reduces hunting to just that—the pull of a trigger or the release of a string. It can lead down a path that teaches our young hunters that if they are not successful every time out, they’re a failure. It also personally robs us of the special nature of hunting—the experiences and memories. Tough, hard-fought hunts full of adventure and experiences are valued for a reason. These are the stories that get told. The “I just showed up and there he was,” is not the edge-of-your-seat adventure we tell and relive over and over.

Holding a kill above all else also sends a message to non-hunters—and not a good one. It reduces hunting to only that which non-hunters have the most difficulty: an animal dies. We know there are more chapters to this book, but non-hunters don’t.