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Why do Hunters Kill?

When there's meat available at the butcher's, why must hunters kill their own?


It is my feeling that hunting is not a sport, inasmuch as a sport is most often perceived as an organized activity performed for the entertainment of the participants and/or onlookers. Hunting is something that goes much deeper than that.

I've been asked several times why hunters kill, when we could just as easily stalk our prey with a camera or binoculars, just for the thrill of being up close with a deer, turkey, or other game animal. The answer is simple: without the kill, we're not hunting.

The kill is the culmination of the hunt. We're not fishing here; there's no catch-and-release option, it's all or nothing. Yes, it's fulfilling just to be in the woods with the animals, and to get up-close-and-personal with them. Yes, it's a thrill to have a deer walk by at 25 yards, totally unaware of my presence. But the kill is what makes it hunting.

One of my favorite statements regarding this is as follows: "One does not hunt in order to kill, one kills in order to have hunted." We hunt for the thrill of the chase, and the ecstatic peace that comes with being out there trying to beat a wild animal at his own game. When the chance finally comes, there is no doubt; we will kill.

But, can't we just stroll down to the grocery store and pick out a nice roast, instead of killing the poor forest creatures? Yep. But why should we? When I kill a deer, I know that deer had a chance, and that up until the time I took him, he lived a wild, free life. That erstwhile cow that's sitting in the foam trays in the butcher's case was born to die... it never had a chance. Add to that the various steroid injections, etc, and I know I'd rather be eating the deer. I also know the conditions in which the deer was butchered, when I do it myself. I also have the pride of furnishing this food to my family myself, rather than paying someone else to do my killing for me.

To those who don't kill and don't understand why we do, I'll borrow from an acquaintance. Why do we kill rather than buy meat? For the same reason many folks grow vegetables in their back yards... for the same reason amateur musicians play music rather than buying it... for the same reason folks paint or draw pictures, rather than buying someone else's art... for the same reason many enjoy photography rather than just buying a picture book of photos... because of the pride that lies in doing it ourselves. Also, venison (deer meat) is healthier than beef or pork, as it is much leaner.

I have to include another quote as well, from The Old Man and the Boy : "...if there's one thing I despise it's a killer, some blood-crazy idiot that just goes around bam-bamming at everything he sees. A man who takes pleasure in death just for death's sake is rotten somewhere inside, and you'll find him doing things later in life that'll prove it." All true hunters agree with this, and we don't kill out of bloodlust, and we don't kill everything we see.

The kill is not the bottom line reason for the hunt, but it cannot be removed from the equation.

-Russ Chastain

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