I have harvested hundreds of animals over the years if you count the ones with feathers. Contrary to what the anti-hunters believe, I don’t actually go around killing animals constantly. I harvest more than most, but not more than what’s necessary for my freezer and for conservation and population control. What I do in the outdoors is part of a larger picture; thousands of like-minded conservationists and hunters who band together to raise money for conservation and the animals that we love. Our dollars go directly to protecting the animals that we hunt and the lands they live on.
When I see a video of nature taking it’s course in the wild, like lions killing a small giraffe or two bucks dying because they’ve locked horns and can’t unlock them, it hurts my heart. My eyes don’t want to see what I know to be the natural way of life. I want to imagine that such pain and suffering don’t exist, even though I know that it’s all a part of a larger picture that has to exist.
That must be the way that the anti-hunters look at us. They know in their hearts that we, the hunters, are necessary to the survival and overall health and wellness of the animal species that we hunt. But their hearts hurt for the animals that have their lives taken from them.
As a hunter I believe that my respect for life has increased as the years go by. I value all life, and I know the difficulties that all living things must go through in order to grow old in this world. For an animal to survive in the wild they must be constantly working towards that one goal. And as a hunter I value life because I have taken it. My hands have harvested animals for their meat, and my heart does not take that lightly.
Why is it that I find it difficult to watch a video of a predator taking down an animal, but I can go into the wild and harvest meat for my family? Because I have compassion, empathy and respect for all life. In the same way that a vegan does not want to watch me harvest meat for my family, I have a difficult time watching a predator do that in the wild. It’s natural to turn away from things that are more raw and powerful than what’s in our own nature. My experiences of watching wildlife videos has given me a new level of understanding for why the anti-hunters talk to me the way that they do. They cannot speak with respect about something that they cannot empathize with. Experiences breed empathy. My empathy for the predators of this world grows with each passing day because I respect them, and also because I know that I’ll never be a predator on their level. I value life because I have taken it, and I think that speaks volumes for the hunting community as a whole.