“Eighteen point Abby.” That’s what we’ve been calling our daughter. After dutifully taking the hunter safety course offered last spring, my girl (according to Michigan’s DNR) officially became a full-fledged hunter. She may have been more excited to get her first hunting license than she was to get her first American Girl doll. She hung it on the refrigerator, looking at it every so often, counting the months, weeks, and then days to the fall youth hunt. September arrived. And then, the 21st. She woke up early, put on her scent-free clothes, and headed to the woods with her Dad. She was primed and ready. Months of target practice and monitoring the deer cam were finally going to pay off!
But, not on Saturday. She came home empty handed. Undaunted, she tried again! Sunday dawned and with it the prospect of another chance, one more shot.
When she relates the story of her first hunt, her eyes glitter. She speaks with confidence and knowledge. I’m in awe of her. She spent several beautiful spring evenings inside taking hunter safety classes. She spent days learning about the .243 she’d be using; pulling the trigger is a small fraction of what it means to own and maintain a gun. It took time to till and plant the crops that would attract the deer. Every few days she’d put the SD card in our computer and excitedly track the deer that moved by the trail cam, nicknaming them, trying to find a pattern to their comings and goings. By the time September arrived, she was prepared physically. But I wondered, would she be able to look through the sight and take the shot? Would she see dinner or a Disney character?
The text I received that Sunday morning was an answer to my worried thoughts. I gave a silent prayer of thanks and a less-than-silent yelp. My girl and an eight point buck. Her eight point buck. The one she worked so hard for. The one she spent months preparing for. Three weeks later, on another hunting adventure with her Dad, Abby bagged a ten point buck. Two monsters in three weeks. Eighteen points. Not too shabby for a ten year old girl.
Naturally, I knew the pride I had in my daughter would not be shared universally. Any member of the PETA crowd would have their panties in a twist if they saw my girl gutting her deer. They’d probably fire bomb the house if they saw the deer hanging before its final destination to the processor.
With morbid curiosity, I perused the PETA website. Filled with contradiction, (starving a wounded animal is mean but starving a healthy animal is “natural”), the website left me reeling. That they are against hunting didn’t surprise me. Though, I admit I did chuckle that their anti-hunting rant is under the “Animals Used for Entertainment” tab and not “Animals Used for Food.” What exactly do they think we’re doing with all of that venison?
“Hunting is often called a sport as a way to pass off a cruel, needless killing spree as a socially acceptable, wholesome activity.” Great. Now my kid is a serial killer? Maybe I should blame Phil Robertson? PETA’s vice president, Dan Matthews, had this to say about Duck Dynasty:
“Unfortunately, hunting programs teach kids that violence is somehow acceptable. According to law enforcement agencies, violent and aggressive criminals often start out as kids who were encouraged to disrespect and harm animals rather than understanding and being in awe of them.”
Yeah, sure. It’s hunting that’s causing children to be aggressive little punks. Darn those inner-city gangs! If only we could have reached them before their fathers took them to the deer blind on Saturdays. (Said no one ever).
Mr. Matthews clearly doesn’t accept the God-given right to consume meat. It was meant to sustain us. That hasn’t changed. We were once hunters and gatherers. Technology and modern farming have replaced our need to provide in the way we were made to. Is it any wonder we’re more obese and unhealthy than ever? Where Mr. Matthews sees a “needless killing spree” I see many pounds of meat that will supply my family with a nutritious, all-natural, low fat source of protein.
Maybe he’d feel better about it if we euthanized the deer in the same way PETA euthanizes 90% of the animals it takes in at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters?
Much like other hunters, my daughter is now a conservationist. She’s being taught to respect the environment, to hunt ethically and to be safe. She’s learning the value of perseverance, the need for patience, and the joy of success.
That, Mr. Matthews, is something to be in awe of.