Saturday, March 1, 2008

A huntress sticks her neck out - in print

The public's perception of hunters has been on my mind a lot lately. There was that San Francisco Chronicle blog item earlier this week where many non-hunters were suggesting that we don't eat what we kill, and that story about women hunters in The Sacramento Bee that was excellent, but that attracted some commenters who thought the majority of hunters were poachers.

I always leap into the comment fray on these things, but a few weeks ago I decided that blogging about it and commenting on other articles wasn't enough. Read more...
I wanted a chance to make my case to a large number of people. So I contacted the editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee, pitched him on an op-ed piece about why I hunt, and by golly, it's in today's paper (click here to read it).

It's funny - when I sat down to write it, I wasn't sure what I was going to say in my allotted 650 words. I think what hunters do for habitat preservation and restoration is super important. And I think wild meat is about the most healthy food you can put into your body - no hormones, no antibiotics and nutritious because game animals eat natural diets. But I've seen us hunters make those arguments before, and they don't answer the one question that really stops non-hunters:

How can you kill animals?

I think as a group, hunters are often afraid to address the death issue, precisely because it's impossible to make it look pretty. But I believe failure to address this is a problem. One, it further distances the general public from the reality of where meat comes from - out of sight, out of mind. In the old days, who would've flinched at the vision of a little old lady going out into the yard, snatching up a chicken and wringing its neck? No one. It happened all the time. It was called dinner.

The second problem is by not addressing the elephant in the room - or by using words like "harvest" to suggest that killing a duck is like picking a tomato - it looks like we've got something to hide. Having spent my whole adult life as a newspaper reporter and editor, I can tell you I never trusted or believed anyone who was obviously hiding something or dodging an issue. That's why from the start of this blog, I have tried to deal matter-of-factly with the death of the animals I hunt.

So that's what I wrote about for today's Bee. Please check it out and let me know what you think. And if you're one of the readers who found this blog because of the piece in the Bee, please take a look around and feel free to post comments here. If you're one of the people who disagrees with what I do, that's fine - at least you'll have given my ideas a chance.

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


Anonymous said...

Holly, I too am a outdoorsperson but of the male variety. I loved to sit in the woods and fields and enjoyed nature. I hunted and fished for years until my health put a stop to it. It is truly a sobering experience to hunt but I seriously enjoyed the meat that I harvested. Enjoy your time in nature's glory and be safe.

kirstie pike said...

Bravo, Holly!
Nothing is better than meat harvested from your own hunt. There is something to be said about taking an animal through fair chase- predator vs. prey. Hunters, in general, have a high regard and respect for the animals they pursue- there is quite a difference between this and simply being handed a slab of meat from a bovine kept in feed lot confines, pumped with steroids/antibiotics, led up a plank and pinned through the brain simply to end up on someone's plate. Keep up the good work, Holly!

The Hunter's Wife said...

Holly, Congrats on the article. One of the things I admire about hunters is they respect those who choose not to hunt nor eat meat.

Great article and how thrilled you must be.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, everyone. So far the response has been really good. Thanks to the blog, a lot of people have been able to track me down and email me.

Great White Hunter said...

Your op-ed in the Bee was terrific! I also understand that sad moment after the kill, when a beautiful animal lies lifeless at my feet, still warm. I remember field dressing my first mule deer, and what a chore it was. The hard work of dragging that 150 pound body out of the canyon and butchering it made the eating more honest, and more meaningful. The irony of my experience hunting is that it has also made me a more appreciative observer of nature. My long dormant photography hobby sprang to new life when I resumed hunting after many years absence from the field. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sis,
Thanks for letting me know about your article. I enjoyed it and many of the comments about it (on the sacbee site). We are so different that it sometimes amazes me that we are sisters. I think that we are both very happy with our lives,yet, if forced to trade places we would be miserable. You've made me rethink my opinion of hunters. Thank you

NorCal Cazadora said...

Wow, that is pretty much the coolest response of all. Thank you! XOXOXO

Anonymous said...


That was a great op/ed piece. I also liked the comments which the piece got, a few of which said you made them think differently about hunting.

Way to go!