Thursday, September 13, 2007

No hunting

Hey! I’m back! Been in In Reno. Nice trip, had a lot of fun, but it is good to be home. I always get that happy, giddy feeling that is almost universally described as “coming home” as soon as I get past Willits and the traffic goes away. When the air begins to smell like hot dry grass and fir trees. Where the food is better, and the bed is softer. “Home sweet home”

Back to hunting; I was born and raised killing anything and everything that was fit to eat. My dad always said it wasn't right to kill anything that you didn’t need for food, so that limited my slaughter somewhat. But, I never really liked killing things. It was a way of life for my pioneer based family, and I just fought my sensitivity and assumed that everyone felt that way, and if I wanted to eat, I needed to kill it. Just after I first married my outsider, newcomer, city girl wife, I went out and killed a deer, brought it home and skinned it in the carport. She never really said anything, but I could tell that she was having difficulty accepting what had happened to that cute little deer hanging upside down and having it’s skin ripped off. After turning it into a well pounded steak, dipped in flour and fried in hot grease with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and the dripping were made into speckledy gravy, served over mashed potatoes, all thoughts of “Bambi’ disappeared.

I’ve always prided my self with being a very “good shot”. (That’s what they called people that knew how to handle a rifle.) One of my first jobs, growing up on a ranch in Laytonville, was to kill ground squirrels. I started hunting them with my uncle at about eight years old, and I was hunting on my own by the time I was ten. I never enjoyed it, but the ranch had to be cleared of squirrels because they would eat the chicken feed, raid the granary, and were just considered to be a general nuisance.

Because I didn’t like killing things, I would always make head shots, for a clean kill. The last deer that I killed, I shot the lower jaw off the deer and had to chase it for about two miles. My dad taught me that you never leave a deer wounded, that you must finish the kill no matter what, or how long it takes. When I caught up to it close enough to see it again, I shot as best I could do to just hit it and slow it down. I hit it in the front leg and was able to catch up to it. As it was laying there with its head up looking at me, I remember that look just like it was yesterday. It said; “what did I ever do to you”. I had to shoot it. I cleaned it and took it home. My wife sensed that I was hiding something, and asked what was wrong. I told her “I don’t like killing things“, and that I didn’t care to talk about it. In her simple wifely logic she said; “Well why don’t you quit?” Damn, it’s that simple, why didn’t I ever think of that. I have to honestly say that I had not thought of that. My whole family still hunts, and I don’t object to it, and I still enjoy a good deer steak as much as I ever did. I’m not moralistic about hunting and I don’t object to other people doing it, it’s just not for me. I have to admit that I’m happy about my decision to stop hunting. That was thirty years ago. The good part is my wife still respects me. These damn outsiders are going to bring civilization to us unless we can stop it.

My dad died before I had a chance to ask him, and he hunted his whole life, but I think I might have got my “sensitivity” from him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brother, sounds like we had the same dad.
As for ground squirrels, my uncle Jack paid us 10 cents a tail. He believed that the holes were a danger for the horses and stock. Step in them amd break a leg.