Predator and prey: It’s not always pretty, but part of life, for hunters and others
I am a fourth grade teacher by trade. Working in an elementary school setting, the vast majority of my colleagues are women – none of whom hunt. In fact, there are only three other male teachers in my entire building, and none of them really hunt either. I suppose I am the lone black sheep of the faculty.
Though I don’t have anyone at work to “talk deer” with like many of my other hunting buddies, I still do my best to share my passion for the outdoors with my co-workers in any way possible.
Whenever I harvest a bear or buck, I’ll share a photo with the staff, and I’ve certainly handed out plenty of wild game meat for folks to taste; they always enjoy it. Though I don’t expect everyone to become hunters themselves, my hopes are that they can at least come to understand and respect what I do.
For the most part, my efforts are generally well received. No one really gives me a hard time about my outdoor pursuits – (which is a good thing because I’d probably dish it right back). But I do sometimes get questions out of sincere curiosity on how I can bring myself to take the life of another living creature.
For instance, one teacher sampling some smoked venison bologna I recently brought in for lunch commented, “I actually really enjoy eating deer meat, but I could never kill one myself. I don’t know how you can do it. It’s like killing Bambi.”
I understood her naivety. She wasn’t criticizing, but rather speaking the truth of how her sentiments for a beautiful creature could hold her back from carrying out means necessary to acquire her own venison. I get it – it’s a natural human emotion.
But I explained to her that killing for food is a way of life. It is how I was raised – always knowing the source of my meal – be it a deer from the woodlot or a chicken from the backyard flock. Believe it or not, it is how humans were raised for millenniums – though we’ve somehow lost touch with that simple truth.
It is no different than the feral cat I observed snatching an unsuspecting duckling from a stream I happened to be wading last weekend, or the red-tailed hawk that drilled the gray squirrel right next to my treestand last fall, or even the red fox I filmed pouncing on field mice amidst the switch grass.
As a hunter myself, I have been fortunate to witness nature in its purest form. I know the relationship between predator and prey is not always pretty, nor is it always easy to deal with, but killing for food is a necessary part of life.
Out of respect for the living creatures that eventually become my meals, I choose to do the dirty work myself, and I’ll gratefully endure that reverent twinge of melancholy that comes with the killing. I accept this because I understand that for me to live, something else must die. Not everyone gets it, but it’s part of life.