Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting Colder and Answering a question

Our weather has turned bitter cold, which is the norm for this country, and it tends to cut down on the number of people willing to get out and hunt. I, for one, prefer to hunt the cold weather because the birds will sit longer. I’ve had Cookie out in some areas where I know there are no deer hunters but we haven’t had much success. On Thursday I am going to try and devote most of the day to bird hunting for both grouse and pheasant. For my money I like to hunt upland birds when there is about four inches of soft snow in the ground. They won’t flush as wild as they will when there is no snow, even when the weather is cold. I’ll let you know if we have any success. In the meantime you can get a chuckle out of Cookie relaxing in front of the wood burning stove. I don’t close the dogs up in the kennel (you can see the door behind her) but let them roam through my office. I suppose some people might not find a shop converted to office, with a dog kennel at one end, comfy but I do.

Recently I was in a discussion with a non-hunter (as opposed to anti-hunter) and this simple question was put to me: “if hunting is not necessary to obtain food then why is hunting allowed?” My answer was that “hunting has, for many people, a psychological value that is important to their well-being. Also, the protection of the right to hunt, more specifically the choice about whether to participate in hunting or not to participate, is often equally important to the non-hunter as a guarantee of the recognition of fundamental rights which therefore provides them with a sense of well-being.” The person who asked me the question, actually an elderly individual, nodded and said that was good enough for him. Is it truly good enough? Can we actually reduce ourselves, as hunters, to 75+ words? I’ve been working on a very complex series of essays for Whitetails Unlimited (http://www.whitetailsunlimited.com/) that will be addressing this issue of who we are as hunters. In my research for this series, my graduate work at UND, and continuing work as a critical thinking hunting writer (as least I hope so and is that word order correct? Norcal?) I’ve found that as complex as hunting is, and the more it is truly examined, it plays a much larger positive role in our well-being, whether we are hunters or non-hunters, than the pop-shrinks (who, for some reason, are generally anti-hunting) are willing to admit. Doesn’t that beg the question of what are they actually afraid of in the hunter or the person who is a non-hunter but actually supports it? I would really like to crawl inside their minds for a look around!

Isn’t thinking fun!? glg


Rabid Outdoorsman said...

I completely enjoy hunting in cold weather. Numb fingers and toes are part of the deal this time of year but with this as you mention fewer hunters brave the cold and the ducks pile into any small area that contains running water.

I work at a professional job and nothing irritates me more than individuals who know I hunt and ask me questions about it at the water cooler like they are "humoring" me or I am a freak show for their amusement. It has gotten to the point where I no longer share details and professionally have taken my hunting into the proverbial closet.

I look forward to reading your future articles.

Blessed said...

I do find that hunting is a great restorative to my mental well-being... there is just something about being outside, trying to bring something home for the table that no other experience can match for me.

I'm not good at putting these things into words - but you and Norcal do a great job! Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.

Holly Heyser said...

Critical thinking hunting writer. As a journalist, my first impression is that's too many words (remember, I'm a journalist first, an academic very distant second...).

How about something simple, like hunterati?

Galen Geer said...

Only problem up here is that when the water freezes it ALL freezes and the ducks head south in a big hurry!
You're not alone in retreating into a closet about your hunting becuase quite a few public figures (the VP not included) have been forced to do the same thing. When we need to do is recognize the unexpected positives about hunting and use them against the water cooler group. Either that or throw water on them! glg

Galen Geer said...

Thank you for the compliment. glg

Galen Geer said...

Norcal, That sounds like an Italian hit man. :) glg

Anonymous said...

I guess my knee jerk response to the question is, "Why shouldn't hunting be allowed?"

It sounds a little banal at first, but really, I think one of the reasons hunters find themselves so often frustrated by non-hunters and antis is that we're constantly asked to defend our sport. Why is that? Why not ask the individual to justify their opposition to the sport, or to my participation in it.

Golf is not necessary to get exercise, and it's proven disastrous to the natural habitat, yet I seldom see Tiger Woods cornered by people demanding a justification for his sport.

I started to go on with more along the same lines, but one example is enough... the point is, why does it have to be "necessary" to be justified? I'd rather someone give me a justifiable rationale to STOP hunting.

Rabid, I deal with similar people "around the water cooler" as well, except I apparently don't take their questions and curiosity quite so much to heart. I don't know where you're from, but I know that a hunter here in the SF Bay Area isn't a regular thing, so people really are curious. We represent something to non-hunters that I think a lot of them would really like to get more in touch with... even though most of them never will. In many of those conversations I swear I hear a certain level of envy in the voices, especially when I'm describing another beautiful weekend in the mountains, or the origins of the meat in my lunch.

I also use those conversations to address the mythology and misperceptions that many non-hunting urbanites have, and enjoy the opportunity to show these folks a perspective that most of them find totally alien. I can't tell you how many times I've been told, "wow, you're nothing like I thought a hunter would be."

I respond, "well, you haven't talked to many hunters then, have you?"

Galen Geer said...

Phillip, I think that we as hunters frequently become defensive (often justifiably so) when we mistakenly believe that we are facing another hostile anti-hunter when what we are really facing is curiosity about an activity that the questioner has no experience with. We must keep in mind that many of the people who do not hunt were never exposed to hunting and their misconceptions are based on ignorance and we are their only source of information that will help them overcome that ignorance. That ignorance of hunting may also help to explain why you sometimes sense envy in their voice.

If we are going to preserve hunting then we can’t turn these people off but must take advantage of their curiosity to explain ourselves as hunters and whenever possible entice them to share the experience.

On another note, the concept of there being a justifiable rationale to stop hunting doesn’t rule out the desire in some segments of the population to eliminate the private ownership of firearms. History provides us with a powerful lesson in the disarming of the English people—Blackstone pointed out that the surest way to disarm the populace was to ban their right to hunt. It worked too well. glg