Can Hunters Be Animal Lovers?

Anyone who hunts has probably heard this comment or something similar many times: “I could never hunt; I love animals too much.”
It is a common misconception and a frequently exploited concept by anti-hunters that hunters are cruel and heartless people who only want to see animals suffer and die. However, over the course of my life, I have met many, many hunters and cannot think of a single one of these whom I would consider an animal hater. Most of them own animals of their own and most of them treat their animals as part of their family.  I personally have 4 goats, 3 dogs, 4 cats, 3 snakes, mice, and fish. I love my animals! I talk to them like people; most of them are my babies.  I worry when one is sick and cry when I lose one (as a matter of fact, as I write this, tears come to my eyes as I think of one of my goats I recently had to put down). I have raised many animals for meat as well and feel it is important to give these animals the best lives they can live while they are with me.
When I was in high school and trying to decided on my future career path, I wanted to become a veterinarian but chose not to because I knew I would have to put animals to sleep. I worked as a kennel manager and loved to spend time giving attention and comfort to the dogs and cats in my care. Today, if money were no object, I would open a wildlife rehabilitation center in a heartbeat!  Yep, I’m sure anyone can see that I, a devoted hunter, am an animal hater!
So, if I love animals so much, how can I hunt? How can I kill them? How can I make them suffer? First, I hunt not so much for the act of killing something, but for the experience of becoming an active part of nature. When I am out in the woods as a backpacker, I am looking at the scenery and taking in the beauty of everything around me. As a hunter, I am more deeply in tune with the wind, the contours of the land, the sounds and smells – I become like an animal.  And while I could never hone my senses and ability to survive as adeptly as the animals who call my hunting areas home, there is something exhilarating and primitive about morphing myself into a predator. It is something in my blood, something I can’t deny. I can’t even completely explain it. I just know that it is that feeling that keeps me coming back day after day, week after week, year after year and why I will keep hunting as long as my body gives me the ability.
Every ethical hunter wants a quick kill.  No one wants to see an animal suffer.  We practice with our weapons in order to perfect our techniques so we can make the right shot every time. Unfortunately, when out in the field, there are many factors that can affect this and not every shot will result in a quick kill, but that should always be the goal. I hate seeing an animal suffer, especially when it is the result of something I have done. Knowing an animal is wounded and suffering makes me sick to my stomach. After the kill, I always thank the animal for giving its life and make sure that I show my respect and admiration for this beautiful creature.
Being in the presence of death is a humbling experience. Each time I kill an animal, it puts me more in touch with my own mortality. Along with the respect and admiration I feel, there is also a sense of sadness at the loss of a life that just moments before was a living, breathing being. I believe that most hunters feel this same emotion. Perhaps it is a connection with the spirit of the animal taken. I know that I don’t experience the same sadness when I see a package of beef steaks sitting in the display at the grocery store. If the day ever comes when I kill something and don’t feel that sense of sadness, I will to put away my weapons and not hunt again, for that will be the day I have lost my compassion and the best part of what makes me human.
What do you think? How do you respond to people who say that you can’t love animals if you are a hunter? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Feb 23, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 4

 

4 comments on “Can Hunters Be Animal Lovers?

  1. Mark Dozier

    Hunters are animal lovers. I love Elk they arewonderful to watch and tenderloins are great. I know many hunters who have sit and let animals go by in a hunt becuase they are so beautiful to watch. Hunters are the real animal lovers, who else would spend hours tracking a wounded animal and make a clean kill and then bring it home to become part of the cycle of life as food.
    I am a charter member of PETA (people eating tasty animals). And I approve this message.

    • Thia

      I totally agree, Mark!! One of my favorite things about hunting is just getting to watch wildlife in their natural setting, doing what they do! I love all of my wildlife encounters!

      Thank you for your comment!

      Thia

  2. jeff smith

    I am an avid hunter who fosters and adopts out many dogs and a few cats. I bear all the cost for spay/nueter myself as well as all shots. I know many more hunters who provide aid as well. Good article.

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