The Woods, The Water, and The Dinner Table
Recently rifle season has opened for hunters in Pennsylvania. My friend Brandon and I headed north to Monroe County, Pennsylvania for the day around 4:30 Am. It wasn’t as cold as usual, but by time we walked about a mile up the mountain we were covered in sweat that was only going to make us cool once we sat down. As we waited for the sun to rise, hunter after hunter walked up the utility road as we could only see their flashlights since it was pitch black out. The sun came up and we sat patiently, as time flew by and around 1:30 in the afternoon we decided to walk around to see what we could find. Only after walking a few minutes trying to not make too much noise we came across an awful smell, the smell that you usually come across when a bear is nearby. It smelled like we were walking through a landfill. Sure enough walking around fallen trees, tons of branches, and dodging as many leaves as we could, 50 yards ahead we came across a small black bear only weighing about 100 lbs. Except this time it was dead lying in the woods rotted, full of maggots, not alive. The stomach was torn up, the flesh was a faded red and shredded as if other animals have been feasting on it. Taking a closer look we noticed small wound in the right shoulder as if an arrow had pierced its body. It was the feeling of biology class when we used to dissect animals in lab. Sighing in disbelieve I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It must have been shot during archery about 3-4 weeks ago and it was never found. Turning to Brandon with a disgusted look we were both pissed off that someone would shot an animal this small. It’s just not fair, it ruins hunting. This is what puts a bad name on hunters like us who respect our kill. Why would anyone not bother to take what they harvested, and first off why would you even take an animal this small?
As you probably here most anti-hunters and anglers argue that many people in the United States do it for recreation. The animals should not go through pain, they should not suffer, some say, “Nature takes care of its own.” What about those like me who hunt for the food and with the respect of the kill? When I set out on early morning hunts, running through my head over and over sitting as I sit in my tree stand I know I will not shoot unless I’m 100% sure that I will take that animal quick and clean. When I drop my line into the frigid waters of Pennsylvania I double check to be sure I removed the small barb on the hook. I remove the hook because if a fish is caught it allows the hook to be removed quick, clean, and easy; and on a side note I always keep the fish in the water so it is not harmed.
Fishing with the old man is always a joy. Recently my family bought a house on the Florida coast. It’s a dream come true. Every time I visit it’s like the old days. In a few weeks as finals conclude I will be leaving these snowy days behind and will be soaking in the Florida sun for the holidays between semesters. Back in June my
Dad and I were out on the beach, the piers, and the causeways sitting back, relaxing, with our lines in the water usually 5 days a week. The birds squawk and squeal, the cars rumble behind us, and the ways crash up against the cement pylons that hold up the bridge. We are out to catch, mackerel, snapper, and sea trout which some of the best fish to eat. The area we fish on the Gulf Coast is known as the fishing capital of the world, so not long after our hooks splash the water, the drag is screaming out almost piercing our ears. Were blinded by the afternoon sun and the evening showers aren’t around to chase us back to the car. Fish after fish, only about an hour and a half the cooler is full and were heading to the house to clean out the guts, and make the fish into something we can eat. As we peel back the slimy bony skin, scales become sticky and throw the excess waste into the water. 6 pelicans wait below to gobble up what we drop and a green and yellow box turtle breaks the surface to say its hellos, but not often. Sometimes you have to tell them to be patient as the almost eat the fish before we drop our cutlery into the slimy silky reddish skin. We look at each other smirking and laughing, rinsing off our fish, we drop them into the frigid freezer, although the cold air did cool us off. This is what we call true fisherman.
Getting older I realize that people have their own views on hunting and fishing and those against the 2 have short tempers with low levels of tolerance when they hear the words ‘hunting ‘or ‘fishing’ This came to my attention a few months ago at work when a group of co-workers were having a discussion on hunting. All but one worker hunts and every time someone talks about a hunt it turns into an argument with voices raising and foul language is thrown across the room. The tensions cold be cut with a knife. The tables grasp the ground holding onto bolts so they are not thrown. Well that day break time was over and we returned to our task and I happened to be working with the man who was the anti-hunter. Covered in sweat, dirt, and boots as green as the grass I yelled hey tony, “with all respect to your beliefs not all of us are recreational hunters. Growing up I looked at my dad as a role model, the man of the house who made sure the garage freezer was always full. He laughed with a smile. Our garage freezer was strictly for fish and game. The large white 4x4x6 chest that was more important than our fridge. I wish that people would realize that families like mine hunt to cut cost at the supermarket, we try to get as much food as we can without buying processed meats or other foods from the supermarket. When I’m out in the woods buried in mossy oak camo or out fishing a stream with my cables vest I highly respect the lives of the animals I am trying to harvest. I want to make a better name for people like myself who hunt with respect. Not everyone is in it for that trophy deer or for that largemouth bass mounted on the living room wall.” I tried to make a point to him that not everyone is the same; I want to be a role model like my Dad was for me. The conversation between Tony and I went on for about an hour. When the day ended he wasn’t as mad as he was in the break room. I hunt and fish with respect and care for the animals I take the lives of, and on a recent hunt I was quiet disturbed as I found a perfect example that relates to hunters only hunting as a sport. I learned what a true hunter is by spending Fridays with grandpa when I could not attend school. As well as the evening nights when it was a boy’s night home and the girls were out doing their own thing. It was quite, relaxing, and much needed time that we all needed.
In my head I was relating this situation to the conversation I had with Tony a few weeks ago. I understand why he believes what he believes because hunters who take small game like this have no respect. Someone who shot this small black bear had no respect for it and that is what makes me fired up inside. Not only was I mad, I wished people would think in a way I do so hunting wouldn’t be viewed as a sport because people like myself and my family we hunt for the food not for a trophy.
Being a co-worker and hunter I wanted to attempt to explain the reason beyond recreational hunts and make a better name for us hunters and anglers. Recently finding that black bear in the woods was disappointing and upsetting. It’s the complete opposite of how I wished people would hunt. Like families many years ago hunting and fishing was a way of survival not for fun. I consider a hunter someone who has respect for the kill, they take it quick and clean, and they don’t harm anything that’s not intended to keep. It would eliminate many arguments especially for those against hunting and fishing?