Thursday, March 24, 2011

My hunting ethics - what I believe, and why

I don't come from a hunting tradition, so when it comes to core values and ethics, I've had to develop them from scratch. Some of my decisions about my hunting values have come from the gut; others are the result of lots of conversations with fellow hunters, non-hunters and even anti-hunters. And while it feels I've discussed all of them in one post or another on this blog, I haven't put them down in writing all in one place.

Until now.

What you see below is actually a new hunting ethics standalone page on the blog, because I wanted to make it really easy for any visitor here to find out with one click what kind of hunter I am.

But you can't leave comments on a static page, so I wanted to post this here, and invite you, dear readers, to weigh in. Specifically, I want to know how you feel about what I've written. Have I explained myself clearly? Have I been intellectually honest? Does my logic withstand scrutiny? Have I left anything out?

Your voice matters, not because my values are subject to popular vote, but because intelligent criticism makes me a better thinker.

So please, take a look and let me know what you think. I expect this to be a page that I'll update from time to time, either as my values evolve, or as my ability to articulate them sharpens.

My hunting ethics

Hunting is inherently controversial because it involves killing. When I tell non-hunters that I hunt, they always ask further questions that help them determine whether what I do is acceptable to them: What do you hunt? How do you hunt? Do you eat what you kill?

I've written about these things in great detail in various posts throughout the history of this blog, but I thought it would be worthwhile to have a synopsis in one place. So here's what I do, and why, and how I feel about others who do differently.

What I hunt: I hunt for food. I will not kill any animal that I am not willing to eat, unless it is threatening to harm me, other humans, or my extended family (which includes pets now, and possibly livestock someday). I have set these boundaries because I believe there must be a good reason to take a life. To that end, I won't even kill bugs that aren't harming me - I usher spiders out of the bathtub, and moths out of the house. Black widows, however, die. So do rattlesnakes that venture into human territory (like my mom's porch).

The specific types of animals I hunt include ducks, pigs, deer, turkeys, doves, pigeons and rabbits. Generally, the animals I love to hunt are the ones I love to eat, and the intensity with which I love to hunt them is directly proportional to how much I love to eat them.

How do I feel about people who hunt animals they don't eat? Honestly, I'm not sure. I try not to judge others, nor hold them to my values, particularly if I don't know anything about what they do. Example: I'm not remotely interested in hunting wolves. Some people do want to hunt wolves, and there may be situations in which wolves need to be hunted to bring their populations back into balance with other wildlife species. While I wouldn't want to pull the trigger, I may have to accept in some situations that it needs to be done.

I do think it's harder to justify hunting for something you won't eat, which means there is a tremendous burden on people who do so to have good reasons for what they do, and to be able to articulate those reasons to the non-hunting public.

My core ethic: This is the one by which I judge myself, and I do judge others: My goal is always the cleanest kill possible. In the event I have not made a clean kill, my goal is to do everything possible to find that animal and end its suffering. While I know nothing goes to waste in nature, I'd prefer that animals not suffer wounding by me just to become vulture food. To that end, I try to avoid shots in which there is a substantial likelihood of merely wounding and/or losing - the animal. This ethic is important to me because it is what I would hope for myself, were I to become prey.

While we all make mistakes, hunters who consistently take careless shots do a disservice to hunting.

That said, I love duck hunting above all, and wing shooting is a sport in which we know many birds escape us with injuries that may produce slow death or crippling. I don't know how to eliminate this, but I do work hard to improve my shooting and increase the likelihood that any bird I hit will not get away. My loss rate in the 2010-11 season was about 10 percent, and while this compares favorably with an average (self-reported) loss ratio of about 18 percent nationwide, I'd like to see that number go much lower.

What about "fair chase" hunting? "Fair chase" is hunting in which the animal has a chance to evade the hunter. I am not a fan of fair chase dogma for a number of reasons:

1) It feels arbitrary: High-fence hunting is not considered fair chase, but put-and-take hunting (e.g., planted pheasants) is, because technically the birds are not bound by a fence, even though they are bound by their inexperience in the wild.

2) Fair chase is all about how we feel, or how we appear to others, when we hunt. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether an animal is afforded the quickest death possible (see "My core ethic").

3) Fair chase is religion by which we anoint those who choose more challenging hunting conditions while we excoriate those who choose easier options. We loathe the hunter who acquires a magnificent trophy in the easiest of conditions, yet mounts it on his wall and brags about it as if he endured great challenge to get it. To that, I say go ahead and loathe him, but don't judge others who may behave perfectly honorably in non-"fair chase" situations.

How I hunt: I'm a relatively new hunter, and while I eagerly took every opportunity available to me in my first couple years of hunting, I now find myself hungry for more challenging hunts. This is not to impress anyone else, but to push myself to become a better hunter. (To me, the best hunter is one who could hunt successfully in utterly primitive conditions - one who could make his own blades, bows and arrows and use them effectively.)

What does this mean specifically? I'm not interested in hunting planted birds. While there are many legitimate reasons to hunt them, it's not for me. I'm not interested in hunting fenced animals, though in principle, I am fine with other people doing so - one can have a perfectly challenging and rigorous hunt inside a fence. I would like to hunt with a bow someday, which I know requires tremendous skill, but I'm not there yet, so it's merely a goal at this point.

It's worth noting that my attitudes toward challenge here stem in no small part from my growing admiration for animals that elude me. I laugh when the clever duck flies so close to me that I could touch him without me even getting off a shot. I admire the pig that can leave a wake of destruction that can be seen from outer space, yet never appear at a time and place where I can shoot him.

That said, it is important for my hunting to be successful at least some of the time, because this is how we put meat in our freezer. I don't see myself raising the challenge bar so high that I rarely bring home meat. That just seems silly.

What about hunting over bait? For almost every animal I hunt in California, hunting over bait is illegal, so this is a moot point. If it weren't illegal, I believe I still wouldn't do it for the reasons mentioned above: I prefer to be challenged. But if civilization came to a sudden end and there was no grocery store as a back-up source of meat, would I hunt over bait? Hell yes. I'd do whatever it takes to feed myself. If I lived in a place where baiting was not only legal, but the norm, I'd have to consider it, because not baiting under those circumstances might mean going without. A lot. But I'm glad I don't have to make that choice.

It's also worth noting that while the non-hunting public has a pretty visceral negative reaction to hunting over bait, doing so can actually afford the opportunity for cleaner kills (see "My core ethic") because animals will come in close and hold relatively still because they're eating.

Catch and release? I'm very uneasy about it - hooking an animal's mouth and wrestling him out of the water for my entertainment alone isn't my cup of tea. If I'm going to put a fish through that, it's going to be for good reason: so I can eat him. (And not surprisingly, as with hunting, my fishing propensities mirror what I like to eat: Spring run Trinity River salmon? Awesome. Love it. Tasty fish. Sturgeon fishing? Don't love the meat. Not interested in spending a lot of time trying to catch them.)

I have little experience with deliberate catch-and-release (only with releasing undersized fish), so I can't profess to know much about it. However, I would hope that catch-and-release anglers take the greatest care with the fish to ensure that they don't die of injury, exhaustion or whatever after being released.

Celebrating the hunt: Yes, I do this. Sometimes I will shout with joy when I've made a good shot. Sometimes I will pose for pictures with the animal(s) I've shot. I realize both of these things are a turnoff to many non-hunters, but the reality is this: Hunting is hard. Success is rarely guaranteed (see "How I hunt"). When I am successful, it means everything I've worked hard for has paid off. This makes me happy.

Rest assured that this does not mean I'm not aware of what it means to take a life. I am constantly aware. When I watch an animal I've shot struggle in his last moments of consciousness, I put myself in his shoes. It makes me queasy. I almost always apologize to animals I've shot, whether they're dead when I reach them or not.

Why I hunt: This could be the subject of a book, not an item on an ethics page on my blog. But it's worth noting here that I am deeply drawn to hunting because it connects me to what we humans have been for the vast majority of our time on earth. In a world gone mad with our perilous drive to "improve" on nature, hunting connects me to a life in which we lived in balance with the other denizens of this planet.

I believe our departure from a hunting-gathering lifestyle is the biggest mistake our species has ever made - that it isn't just bad for all the other denizens of this planet (which it is), but it's bad for us as well. I know that, realistically, there's no escaping the way we live now. But when I hunt, I feel like I'm doing what I was meant to do. One way or another, I have to eat, and I feel a hell of a lot better about my food when I've worked for it than I do when I've bought it at the grocery store.

Note: The post you just read is what I originally wrote, and it's going to stay that way - otherwise, some of the comments below just won't make sense.

To see how I have added to this in response to great issues raised by commenters, click over to the My hunting ethics page. Some of the things I've added so far include a note on the value of catch-and-release fishing (even though I don't like it), my thoughts on shooting ducks on the water, why I don't hunt with lead ammo anymore and how I feel about breasting out ducks.

Interested in joining some of the other excellent hunting ethics discussions raging these days? Check out:

Tovar Cerulli's Mindful Carnivore, specifically his post, Wounded animals, Uncomfortable hunters.

Phillip Loughlin's Hog Blog, specifically, "How Much Is Enough?" Parts I and II.

Tamar Haspel's Starving Off the Land, specifically her post, All's Fair.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011


Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

Amen, Holly. Clear, succinct, and honest.

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

P.S. Under your "fair chase" section, you explain why you don't like a particular kind of dogma. A couple paragraphs later, under "How I hunt," you note that you don't have any interest in hunting planted birds or hunting inside a fenced operation, and that you respect the animal's ability to elude you. That is, in essence, your personal "fair chase" ethic. It might be helpful to link the two explicitly.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Good stuff Holly. Your opinions very nearly mirror my own. I was especially heartened to read your position on catch & release fishing. I have been of the same mind for nearly a decade and my hunting buddies who also fish all give me grief about it. I am happy to fish for dinner but catch & release for pleasure seems extremely cruel.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Why are we all thinking about hunting this spring?

Over this past hunting season, my first, your posts on hunting ethics have helped me clarify my own thoughts about killing animals. Reading this, I think I have a better way to think about "fair chase" than I did before.

I share your commitment to the bedrock principle of a clean kill, and pretty much the only thing I'm willing to take issue with in another hunter is a lack of commitment to that. "Fair chase," though, isn't an issue of ethics. It's all about the personal challenge, and it's inherently individual. What's challenging for me is different from what's challenging for you, as is the level of challenge each of us is willing to seek.

The only problem with fair chase is when someone tries to codify it, and say a hunter should never shoot a sitting duck or a baited deer. Depends on who you are, what your circumstances are. As long as you're committed to a clean kill, I'm OK with it.

Commitment to a clean kill is a universal imperative. Fair chase is an individual choice.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

As ever Holly
Great writing and well thought out

I've had my picture taken with kills, and although I'm a little conflicted by them, I will continue to do so. The stereotypical pictures of grinning yahoos are a little off putting even to this hunter.

My Ex (no interest in hunting) has a very gory picture of me gutting a deer in the family album, which she's had complaints about, but as she says it's part of who we are and the main complainant eats meat anyway. This morning my mum [mom] asked me for a picture of my recent doe kill and says she's going to put it on the wall of her office. Maybe it's me whose the squeamish one?

The thing that you didn't mention, is something I've always admired about you and Hank, your commitment to nose-to-tail eating. To me this is a hooj part of the reconnection with our past, even if the offal is only to be dog food it's important to use it all.


Kevin McNeil said...

That was well said Holly.
Each of us has to look inside of ourselves as to why we do what we do. I love being outdoors hunting taking game is part of this and who we are as gathers and hunters.
As an outfitter for waterfowl I see a lot of clients that wounded birds each year, part of this is poor shots, rushed shots, trying to use all three shots just because your gun carries three shells. Hunters need to relax and not rush the shot and just shoot at one bird at a time, and wait for the next group of birds to come in, instead of rushing a second or third shot. Remember it is about the adventure, the experience not the number of birds you have in one group of birds.
Holly remember "ducks aren’t hard to kill they are just easy to miss".

Anonymous said...

Holly, I love your blogs and you are a true asset to the hunting community. Thanks for posting this & good hunting.
Mitch Roberts

Phillip said...

Good post, Holly. Interesting idea to put it all in one place for easy reference. The really interesting thing will be to come back to this in ten years or so, after your experience has really grown and times change, and see how much of it still holds for you and where you've changed.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Good point, Tovar, though I'll have to mull it. I kind of loathe the moniker "fair chase" as I hate the moniker "sport hunting," do I don't even want to think about my hunting choices now as leaning toward fair chase, though some could be construed that way, I really prefer to think of it as where I am on a spectrum of challenge - which suggests a range of options - rather than a line in the sand, which is what fair chase is. I think there's room to clarify those points, though, which I can do after we've had a good round of comments here.

Mike, I was shocked when I went on a catch-and-release trout fishing day with my boss. I knew what I was in for, but I wanted to try it, and he had a free seat for me on the boat. My boss also does catch-and-eat fishing, but the guide looked at me like I was Satan when I said it hurt my tummy to throw away those trout.

Tamar: LOL, it's because hunting season is over! Actually, I've been wanting to do an ethics page on the blog for quite some time, and I put it on my list Saturday, because this is my spring break. The raging discussion over at Tovar's blog had me so revved up that I knew I was ready to write this one. Ingrid's comments, in particular, made me think a lot about the importance of emphasizing clean kill.

BTW, I love how succinctly you state it: "Commitment to a clean kill is a universal imperative. Fair chase is an individual choice."

SBW: Good point, also worth adding. Funny thing is as much as we loathe factory farming, we have to concede that factory-farm operations probably do nose-to-tail as well as the original hunter-gatherers, albeit motivated by maximizing profits. That's the one area where I think hunters are consistently behind the curve.

But yeah, I am not a fan of breasting out a duck, and I wish I saw more hunters at least eating the whole bird, if not dabbling in a bit of offal.

Kevin: I still think I have a long way to go on bird hunting. I rarely use the third shot, and I almost never try to shoot a second duck after a first goes down, because I don't have a dog to help me retrieve. But there are times where I will yell at myself, "That was stupid!" before the smoke has cleared from the chamber because I've taken a ridiculous shot. I think the fast pace of wing-shooting makes me forget common sense sometimes.

Mitch, thank you!

Phillip: Oh yeah, I'm sure it will change - at least what I'm doing. The really interesting part will be seeing whether my tolerance for others with different values remains strong. So many of my values are based on the fact that I've been exposed to a lot of good and honorable hunters, and I know there are others out there who are less tolerant because they've been exposed to lots of slobs. We'll see.

Now, here's an idea everyone, also inspired by Ingrid: How can we get major hunting media - the magazines and TV shows - to emphasize thoughtful hunting more? I'd love to see PSAs about passing on good values to your kids - and I mean basic stuff, like pack your trash out of the field (something I should also add here) and pass on shots likely to wound. And I'd love to see a little more commentary on ethics creeping into the narrations and story lines on hunting TV and in magazine stories, even if it's on areas of disagreement (Ted Nugent v. Tred Barta, anyone?)

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

'we have to concede that factory-farm operations probably do nose-to-tail as well as the original hunter-gatherers'

I never saw it like that, I did actually laugh out loud


hodgeman said...

Very nice and well developed write up. I enjoy how you can state your opinions without casting scorn on others. I also find admirable how you leave room for your own opinion on certain tactics to change given a change in your circumstances without a change in your basic ethics. I believe the phrase I'm looking for is "rational thought" and its sorely lacking these days.

Phillip said...

Holly, what I think I've been trying to convey in some of my posts re: the hunting programs is that we, the viewers, have a significant voice in the outdoor TV industry. We often don't realize it, probably because we've been so conditioned by Big TV to believe we're supposed to just be passive viewers.

But check in with folks like Michelle at Sportsman Channel, or some of the producers, and you'd be surprised by how much impact viewer comments can have. Of course it takes more than one or two emails and phone calls, but it's not that hard to create a ripple effect.

We'll probably never change them all, but we won't change any if we don't try.

Josh said...

A great set of ethics from a very articulate and thoughtful person. Thanks, Holly.

As for catch-and-release, I'm amivalent. The greatest defense (albeit anthropomorphizing to do it) comes from David James Duncan in his book "God Laughs and Plays." I highly recommend it. In general, it's important to note that catch-and-release has moved many a person to conservation/environmental advocacy through a love of interaction.
That said, I rarely catch and release anymore, except for size.

Ryan Sabalow said...

I've never understood why some duck hunters are so aghast at the thought of shooting ducks or geese on the ground or in the water.

I mean, if you're so stealthy you can sneak within gun range of a flock of feeding birds, isn't that a sign that you're a bad-ass woodsman or something? What's the difference between that and sneaking up on a feeding buck?

It's a little different for shooting birds that land in the deeks, I guess.

But, if I'm so hidden and my spread is so perfect that I've got birds landing, I feel like I've done my first job as a waterfowl hunter, which is to get birds close enough for me to cleanly kill.

I enjoy the challenges of wing- and jump-shooting as much as the next guy, but if I can blast a fat greenhead before he even knows I'm there, I'm going to do it every time.

Sure reduces the odds of crippling or losing birds that fall in heavy cover.

As for hunting released birds, I have mixed feelings.

I've long disliked the idea of paying some dude to shoot his pet long-tailed chickens.

But now that I've got a dog that needs work in the off-season, it's becoming a lot more tempting, since I know her training now will help me get "real" birds come fall.

Plus, I've eaten some of those raised birds over the last few years and they tasted quite nice.

I dunno.

I enjoy fishing, catch and release or otherwise.

But I really dislike frozen fish, so I only keep the fish I'm going to eat that night.

Like you, I don't see the appeal predator hunting (though, unlike you, I put bears in that category).

Predators just seem so much more self-aware than prey animals.

When I look in the eyes of a coyote or a cat or a bear I see the same glint of intelligence I see in my dog's eyes. I could never intentionally snuff that out, especially if I wasn't going to eat it.

Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking post.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, Hodgeman. I hope it's not seen as situational ethics - I'm certainly willing to entertain the accusation if it is.

Phillip: Good point. And despite the reaction of the producer you wrote about recently (and his nephew), I suspect he will take your feedback into account in future shows. This happens in newspapers all the time - it's why grizzled veterans can tell green newcomers that they'd better not say XYZ in a story because they'll get ABC criticism.

I'd still like to see some of the financial powerhouses in hunting - the channels, the big store chains, the stars - doing PSAs about basic good hunting behavior. Social marketing works. As long as it's not too cheesy.

Josh: See, that's why I try not to judge, even though I dislike deliberate catch-and-release at a gut level.

Ryan: Hunting dog fitness is the one thing that would change my tune about planted-bird hunting in a heartbeat. Hank also still likes planted-bird hunting because it's a way to acquire that meat for the table. This is fine with me.

I guess I don't put bears in the same category as 'yotes because I know lots of people eat bear (it's actually illegal to waste the meat), but almost no one eats coyote. Also, think about it: Most fish we eat are predators... And we bait those little buggers with complete abandon.

BTW, folks: If you haven't already noticed, Blogger's comment function has been pretty glitchy lately. If you're putting a lot of thought into your comment, please copy it before you hit publish. It's SO irritating when your comment disappears down the inter-toilet.

hodgeman said...

I don't really think of it as situational ethics if the base ethic is to cleanly kill the game. Not baiting bears in California's open hills is certainly a responsible approach given the terrain and bear population. Perhaps given the environment and habituation level of the prey, bear baiting isn't an ethical tactic there.

Realizing that if you were dropped into the huge expanse of boreal forest and wanted to maintain the basic ethic of "clean kill" you may have to re-examine the approach to include baiting given that spot and stalk tactics are near impossible given the terrain.

I think we tend to have an ethical "code of conduct" that we want to apply to all other hunters in every environment, in every culture. I tend to think of "hunting ethics" as a tiered approach- where some are concrete (ie. clean kill, animal utilization) and some are more fluid (hunting tactics, shooting predators, etc) depending on the location and cultural context.

sportingdays said...

There are 2 million licensed anglers in California. There's no way the state would be able to sustain its wild, self-propagating fisheries without a catch-and-release ethic or catch-and-release regulations.

The state's fisheries would be quickly diminished or you'd have to severely restrict -- or close altogether -- the most sensitive fisheries, which also happen to be located in some of the most spectacular, breathtaking and wild habitat we have left in the state. We need more opportunities to interact with these wild places and learn about their wild inhabitants , not fewer, and catch-and-release fishing permits this with minimal impact on the environment.

The north state's trout, salmon and steelhead streams and rivers come instantly to mind, but all of the state's fisheries -- black bass, striped bass, sturgeon, etc. -- have benefited to some degree from the catch and release ethic.

Al Cambronne said...

A good manifesto, and ethics to admire.

Interesting that you mentioned catch-and-release fishing in a discussion that was mostly about hunting ethics. But it definitely fit. I used to do it a lot, but eventually I started thinking about it differently. It felt like playing with my food, and it was fun for everyone but the fish.

David J Blackburn said...

I've come to the conclusion that a person who spends this much time thinking about their creed doesn't really need one.

I get the impression that hunting laws aren't of much use to you either. I realize that sounds like an insult, but it is not. Not at all.

Phillip said...

Holly, not to get too far off topic, but in the case of Gary from Hooked on Utah, he and I exchanged several more emails after the published exchange, and he's definitely receptive to our points of view. I just wanted that on the record.

His nephew, on the other hand... well...

Back to the regularly scheduled programming...

SimplyOutdoors said...

I think this a great idea, and I'm starting to think that maybe it's something every hunting/fishing blogger should make available on his/her site - especially in case some of those anti/non-hunters, who are so quick to judge, happen to visit.

And I'm very intrigued about your position with catch-and-release, and how it applies to not killing/catching anything you wouldn't eat.

I feel a post brewing about that one :)

Anonymous said...

I think overall your ethics code has some great stuff, especially the bit about leaving hunting-gathering having a negative effect on the planet's life, although that is a complex discussion. If it weren't for agriculture, we probably wouldn't have invented modern medicine or these computers we're using now. I think the fundamental point you made on Tovar's blog is that you impose some pain on other beings by simply existing is a great trusim.

However, your dislike of fair chase code is very problematic when it comes to the fundamental political benefit hunting has to society and the environment. To me, opposing hunting animals in perimeters is not a moral/ethical issue, it is a political and environmental one. "Canned hunts" regardless of difficulty, privatize wildlife. It removes or weakens the political incentive the entire hunting community has traditionally had to fight for public land and thereby serve as an agent of the broader society. The protection of land is one reason why many non-hunting environmentalists and other outdoor users understand the importance of hunters. As Teddy Roosevelt said (I might have the exact words wrong): "leave vast tracts of wilderness to test the skills of the hunter, whether or not he is a man of means". That is an expansive hunting politics that builds coalitions. It was in this spirit that the people of Montana, at the urging of conservationist hunters, voted to ban "canned hunts" a number of years ago. There are also serious questions as to whether elk and deer farms, which also often have canned hunts, are speading chronic wasting disease. It's been a challenge for wildlife agencies to monitor this.

Also, part of "fair chase dogma" is not using machines. Overuse and abuse of ATVs is harming the environment, including wildlife habitat for animals we like to hunt, esp elk. It also is contributing to global warming and making people fat. A strong fair chase ethic keeps motorized use to a minimum. It keeps hunting a physical activity. This very fact is why the Obama administration has included the promotion of hunting in its great outdoors initiative - the first lady knows it is another activity that keeps kids from getting fat ! (They also want to reach a political constituency as well).
Your skepticism of catch and release fishing is also in conflict with conservationist and coalition building goals. I can say for a fact as an avid fly-angler that a great trout stream near Minneapolis has been protected by this practice on some breeding size fish (no-kill slot on brown trout, 10"-14"). The good fishing experience has kept people fishing the river, and thereby vested in protecting it.
Your core principle of clean kill is very important, as well as hunting connecting us to nature in a profound way and to our ancestors. I certainly share these sentiments. However, certain hunting and fishing practices benefit society/conservation more than others (as well as the hunters themselves), and we need to keep that constantly in mind when deciding what hunting ethics we should collectively share.


sportingdays said...

There are about 2 million licensed anglers in California. There's just no way the state's wild, self-sustaining fisheries could survive that kind of angling pressure without some catch-and-release regulations or a catch-and-release ethic of some kind, which fosters a broader conservation ethic.

In California today -- despite the immense population and land-use pressures -- we enjoy some world-class fishing precisely because of catch-and-release angling.

I think instantly of the state's many blue-ribbon trout streams that benefit -- Fall River, Hat Creek, the Sacramento River (Upper and Lower), the Pit River, the Walker River, and the list goes on and on -- but many species can be included such as black bass, striped bass, sturgeon, etc.

Catch-and-release fishing allows access and enjoyment of some of the most pristine, spectacular and breathtaking natural habitat California has to offer with minimal environmental impact. Much of that habitat and those wild fish would be lost without it.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Everyone: I've actually already begun revising my ethics page based on some of the issues you've raised here. But to see it, you'll have to click through to that page - I'm leaving this post as originally written; otherwise, some comments here won't make sense.

Hodgeman: Agreed, and you took so much less space to say it than I did!

Al: I know there's a huge divide between hunting and fishing, and it's an ancient one - I'm told most hunter-gatherers view birds, mammals and reptiles as "us" and fish as "other." But it's all part of the same continuum to me.

David: I think I know what you mean. I respect laws and do my best to follow them, but I do not depend on them to find my moral compass.

Phillip: Eh, his nephew was just defending him. I do remember defending a mutual friend of ours by referring to someone who was attacking him as an "asshat." Dammit, sometimes I really am a bitch.

Simply: Hey, if you write that post, please come back here and link to it from a comment here. Can't wait to see what you're thinking.

Erik: I'm sorry the Blogger comment function has been tormenting you today!

As to your thoughts: If it weren't for agriculture, we wouldn't need most of the modern medicine we have today. Most cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are functions of civilization, particularly the "civilized" diet.

Question: How is my dislike of the fair chase code problematic to anything? What benefit would I derive from pretending that it's a great idea to divide what is really a broad continuum of challenge into "good" and "evil"?

If you oppose high fence hunting on environmental grounds, that's fine with me - I don't care. If you say that Holly Heyser hunting on this side of a fence is virtuous, but Holly Heyser hunting the exact same way on the other side of the same fence is evil, then I reserve the right to tell you you're full of shit.

ATVs? Not a fan - I'm with you. I personally prefer getting off my fat ass and walking. Good lord, hunting on foot is the only exercise I get.

Same question, though, on my position on catch and release. How is it a problem for me to say I don't want to do it? Do I have to do it? Do I have to like it?

Sportingdays: Sorry about Blogger snaring your comment too! I was actually in the middle of making my first revision on my ethics page when your original comment popped up in my email (it shows up there, but not on the blog page - doh!). As a result, I did add a note (which you'll appreciate, Erik) that I understand the whole catch-and-release industry (for lack of a better term) does have value when it comes to ensuring support for those species. I do respect that and want to acknowledge it.

BUT ... while I get the benefit, I fail to see how we can think of catch-and-release in glowing ethical terms. It's making an animal fight for its life for our entertainment. There may be a great deal of good that comes from that, which is one reason I would never take away the right of anglers to play catch-and-release.

But I'm not into it at all. To me it sounds like about as much fun as shooting ducks with tasers and then letting them go.

Al Cambronne said...

With catch-and-release fishing, you hit the nail right on the head when you wrote about how we think of fish as "other." That makes it different.

I wish I could remember where I read this, but I can at least acknowledge it as not being an original thought... Someone once made a great analogy, sort of a thought experiment.

Suppose you went to a nearby landfill or back alley where you were likely to find feral cats cruising by. Most people don't think highly of them; it would be the mammalian equivalent of a carp or sucker. Or, since it's an invasive species, more like one of those Asian carp now invading the Midwest. Either way, sort of a "rough mammal."

You wait until dusk and tiptoe out with your fly rod. (Talk about fair chase!) Rather than wet or dry flies, you use a medium-sized barbless hook with a half-inch section of hot dog. Or what the heck, maybe even a dead minnow.

When the cat takes the bait, you have a heck of a fight on your hands. It would be great sport, especially on a three-weight rod with a light tippet. And when you're done,you can release the cat unharmed. You are, after all, using barbless hooks.

For some reason, this might not be seen as socially acceptable. But logically, what's so different about catch-and-release cat fishing vs. catch-and-release trout fishing? Or, for that matter, catch-and-release catfishing?

Richard Mellott said...

Kudos on having boiled it all down to what you can put down in writing. Most of us look to writers to express what we may not be able to articulate, and you've done a great job in putting down your thoughts, and furthering the discussion.
As one who grew up hunting, without being introduced to the ethics of it, I have to say, I struggled with it many times, because of my personal feelings. I went hunting with my dad, but a couple of times, I gave him back the guns, letting him know I didn't feel I could continue hunting, for various reasons, some of which were my rebellion against some of his values in other areas, and some of which were my choices not to eat meat (that didn't last long). I ended up hunting again, and becoming an enthusiastic participant last year, and have had a more thoughtful approach to it, thanks to the discussions on the very blogs you mentioned in your own learning experience (yours included).
Finding the thoughtful hunters has been a quest since I started experiencing that community, and it has helped me to "win over" some of the skeptics in my life, though that is an ongoing struggle. It pays to identify with a community based on ethics, rather than ethnicity, in my case, since I don't know many French hunters...and also, because I want to stay away from Yahoos and the people I call the "Kill-crazies." I'm just out there to bring myself into communion with nature, and to get a tasty meal as a reward, and I do not catch and release (except for size limits), because the thrill of the chase is not the be-all and end-all of it for me.
So, thanks again for giving us all a place in which to identify our own impulses, find others with like-minded approaches to this outdoor living style, and to a place to feel good about what we do in the field. It helps, when we have time to discuss, like the off season.

Swamp Thing said...

Great post, Holly. And brave, too.

Between 6000 and 10,000 years ago, humans learned to garden - to grow the same crops repeatedly. This led to the demise of hunting & gathering in many cultures.

I don't agree that it was the biggest mistake of the human race. And I'm confident that we would destroy the earth's systems in a matter of months if humans went back to hunting & gathering.

You raise an excellent point on C&R. However, in an era where we are losing hunters and anglers annually, C&R in polluted waterways gets people fishing, who otherwise would not come to know the sport, or their own river (and thus wouldn't ever support legislation or taxes to support those resources).

Eric C. Nuse said...

Check out On Your Own Adventures on the Sportsmen's Channel, produced and hosted by founding board member of Orion-The Hunters' Institute Randy Newberg.
Also I've just read a new book, "The Good, The Bad & The Difference", by Michael Sabbeth. Although it isn't about hunting it does a great job in laying out how to think thru ethical and moral problems.
Thanks for the great post and everyone's thoughtful comments. I just got back from the North American Wildlife Conf, and I can tell you hunter ethics and behavior is on the minds of many wildlife groups and administrators.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Richard: Thanks! But as I just said over on Tovar's blog, this may not be a community of highly ethical hunters, compared with the norm; it may just be that we're a community that articulates our ethics well (and really enjoys discussing the subject).

There are plenty of hunters who might never write or say the things we're saying here who nonetheless agree with a lot of the points we've made. (This has been my experience when I've written pieces that get widely read, and afterward I see comments of agreement in other forums where ethics are not often discussed.)

Swamp Thing: Oh, I know we can't go back to 100 percent hunting-gathering, but that's strictly a function of our population. Based on some reading I've just done, a sustainable population density for hunter-gatherers is one person per square mile. Extrapolated to the land surface area of the planet (which is generous given that all land surface is not equal), that would put a sustainable population at no more than 6 million. (And if anyone has more accurate projections, please tell me, because this is a big guestimate.)

The truth is, we have faced a choice at several times in the development of our species: From the paleolithic to the mesolithic, from mesolithic to neolithic, from agricultural to industrial. The choice was this: Our population is growing. Should we engage in advances that facilitate that growth, or should we live within our means (i.e., at the holding capacity of our habitat)?

We have consistently chosen the former, which has consistently deprived those who would live within their means of the opportunity to do so.

I know I'm pissing in the wind on this subject: I believe we will never take steps to return to a truly sustainable lifestyle. It is not our way. Eventually, though, we will collapse under the weight of our incredible cleverness, and the earth might once again enjoy a little more balance among her denizens.

Regarding C&R, I can accept it because of its benefits for whole species. But I don't see myself ever liking it. If hunting were reduced to catch and release, I wouldn't do it. Hunting is already a sad and pale imitation of its original form; take away the meat and it becomes - to me - a pointless exercise.

Eric: We love On Your Own Adventures! ("We" being the NorCal Cazadora-Hunter Angler Gardener Cook household.) I'm also a fan of Steven Rinella's show, the Wild Within, which just completed its first season on the Travel Channel, in large part because Rinella clearly articulates the appeal and value of hunting and the ethical boundaries that determine his behavior. (That's probably a whole new post right there.)

Gary Thompson said...

Great piece. I so enjoy reading your work. It makes me think, a difficult proposition at best these days - for me anyway.

Your remarks concerning catch and release fishing surprised me. I guess I had never thought about it before, but it sure is an interesting perspective. I fish for food and I fish for pleasure. It's fair to say my conviction rests in neither camp. An avid trout angler, I can't remember the last time I took a trout home, although I don't begrudge people who like to take a few fish from the river or lake, AS LONG AS IT'S WITHIN THE LEGAL LIMIT.

For me, I simply don't like the taste of trout so I'm generally inclined to put them back so they'll be bigger the next time I fool them. Brooke trout are another matter. Nothing taste better than a fresh streamside Brookie blanched and served over a bed of re-hydrated seafood pasta on a backpacking trip.

There is a great deal of debate concerning catch and release fishing. Is it cruel? Do fish feel pain? Is the mortality rate higher for barbless hooks vs. barbed? The list is almost endless and the debate will continue long after my years on this earth have expired.

The one thing I can say about catch and release fishing is that it sure is great for habitat and supports the preservation of trout and other sport fishing species. Without the passionate conviction and financial support of catch and release anglers, we would almost certainly run out of places to fish, or duck hunt for that matter. In the saltwater camp, one only needs to look at species such as Redfish, Sail and Marlin, Bonefish, and Snook that have been brought back from the brink by the efforts of catch and release supporters. It's sad, but as with so many things in this crazy mucked up world, money talks and BS walks.

I guess I support and volunteer my time to catch and release fishing for the same reason I do for hunting (NOT catch and release). It generates money, preserves habitat, and serves as a watchdog against corporate or affluent individual interests that would either rape the land or privatize the resource.

In some small measure, I guess I feel like the fish owe me a small piece of pleasure and maybe a little stick in the lip for the work I put forth to preserving the places they live. Does that make me a narcissistic sportsman? I do use barbless hooks though just in case fish do feel pain. Speaking from personal experience, it's a lot easier and less painful to get them out than a barbed hook you have to tear out of your lip.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Gary, you crack me up because I hadn't even thought to mention laws in my ethics page because I take for granted that we follow the laws - even the ones that irritate us - because on the whole they are designed to preserve the species we hunt and fish.

As for the trout: I haven't eaten them much, but I distinctly remember going to a black Southern fish fry and eating, oh, three whole trout there. The cornbread was awesome too.

Do I begrudge you your appreciation of C&R, and your sense that it's the least fish owe you for your support that makes their lives possible? No, not as long as you don't begrudge me my feelings about it.

Gary Thompson said...

Not in the least Holly! I'm kind of Switzerland on this issue, and kidding to some extent about trout owing me a debt of gratitude. My best memories in life have largely circled around wetting a line with my family and friends. Much of that has been catch and release, but I've certainly spent my fair share of time around the fryer as well.

I'm thrilled that you enjoy fishing and eating your catch. And I'm also thrilled that you prefer not to fish for simple enjoyment, practicing catch and release. It keeps one more angler out of my favorite hole on my catch & release only rivers, know what I mean? (tee hee)

Now, if I can get your boyfriend to post a few trout recipes, I'll probably end up pulling a few from the river as I'm learning a great deal from his pages.


NorCal Cazadora said...

Lord, we've had to cancel a trout fishing trip THREE TIMES in the past few weeks because of the wretched series of storms we've had come through here. Believe me, I want him to feed me some trout too!

Ingrid said...

Excellent post, Holly. You and I differ on many topics, but how can I argue with such a thorough treatise on hunting ethics? It's inspiring me to perhaps add some things to my photography ethics statement. :)

I agree with everyone here, that "clean kill" ought to always top the list. If one engages in this sport, please (as you say) be attentive to the responsibility of taking a life, and the potential suffering when good judgment is not heeded.

You also wrote, "Most cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are functions of civilization, particularly the "civilized" diet."

I imagine you're referring to a heavily grain-based diet, not a vegetable-based one. I think modern grain products and derivatives tamper with our well-being more than anything. It's tragic how agricultural resources have been so disproportionately allocated to grains, soy, corn and other refined carbs -- and now bioengineered versions of the same.

Definitely, having others cultivate our food changes our relationship to the source of our very being, our activity level, and the choices we make. But I have to agree with a few of the other commenters here that agriculture isn't inherently troublesome, just as I don't believe hunting/gathering is a built-in panacea.

I'm not a fan of Michael Pollan, but I think what he says about eating mostly vegetables, and using animal protein as mere condiments (if you eat animals) is probably the most sound advice. I had hunters in my family who died from the same degenerative diseases as the food shoppers. And I've had family members who lived their entire lives on an agriculturally-based diet, who thrived. I believe that organic or naturally harvested meat, when combined with the biologically aging mechanisms of refined sugars and carbs, will render the same deleterious effects.

btw: It's always a sensitive issue in these times, but I appreciate your perspective on population issues. I don't have kids for that very reason, just trying to walk my ecological talk. Population is definitely the cultural elephant in our living room, but it is at the root of almost every issue germane to our survival -- and to our subsistence choices.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Ah, Ingrid, I wondered when I'd see you here!

You're right about the grain-based diet, and my sentiments extend to eating animals that have been put unnaturally on the grain-based diet: It's bad for us, it's bad for them, and when we eat animals that have eaten that way, we get more of the bad fat and less of the good fat.

I've just finished a book called "Health & the Rise of Civilization" by Mark Nathan Cohen and it has opened my eyes, sadly, to how hopeless we are as a species in terms of our relentless quest for "progress." (It has also informed practically everything I've written in comment threads over the past week.)

The gist of it is that in our early human (paleolithic) days, we ate meat and vegetables. When our population demanded that we expand our food supply (or control our population, which we obviously declined to do), we added more vegetables and some grains, and you could often see an attendant decline in health - in expanding our diet, we added more calories, but less nutrients. This would be the mesolithic.

Then with agriculture (neolithic), we increased the nutrient-poor grain intake even more, and when you add sedentism to that nutrient mix, health goes to hell. It is only in the past couple centuries that we (broad population, not just elites) have achieved some markers of health that exceed the hunter-gatherers (infant mortality, life expectancy), and I would argue that the cost to the planet has been unacceptably high.

While I think deliberately reverting to hunting-gathering would be excellent for the planet and for our health as a species, it's impractical because it would require a radical reduction in population. But I reserve the right to put myself in that world as often as I can, because that's where I feel all is right with the world. It's better for me that most people think going to the grocery store is better - less competition.

For my own health, my new lifestyle is probably too little too late. I already have arthritis. If I'm to get cancer, the seeds were planted long ago. Already went through the whole appendix thing. Diabetes? The seeds for that may have been sown as well, though I try to eat a diet that won't exacerbate that, which is a little easier, now that Girl Scout Cookie Season is over. My heart, though, does love my new diet, though it wishes I'd get off my ass and work out a little more.

On population, I have to admit my choice was selfish, not selfless. But I think the very fact that I would choose not to procreate is a reflection of our overpopulation.

Ingrid said...

For my own health, my new lifestyle is probably too little too late. I already have arthritis. If I'm to get cancer, the seeds were planted long ago. Already went through the whole appendix thing. Diabetes? The seeds for that may have been sown as well

This is probably better for a personal email, but my former endocrinologist had great success in turning around so many of those conditions in her patients - through diet, endocrine correction and supplementation. If it's osteo arthritis, that might be a bit different. Rheumatoid, however, along with other autoimmune conditions can respond to lifestyle changes. I've had experience with this myself.

On population, I have to admit my choice was selfish, not selfless. But I think the very fact that I would choose not to procreate is a reflection of our overpopulation.

Well, honestly, I'm not sure any of us does anything in a fully selfless fashion -- except, perhaps, an adrenaline-infused rescue where you don't even have time to think about risks to your own self. I think there's often personal benefit even in the most charitable of actions, even if that benefit is self-satisfaction.

With respect to kids, would I have been so "selfless" if I'd had a life-long ambition to have children -- and hadn't been walloped to a pulp by strict old country relatives myself? :) Not so sure. Would I have raised my hand in environmental science 101 when they asked, "how many of you plan NOT to have kids for environmental reasons?"

In the end, I think choosing to have just one or two children is possible and appropriate for just about anyone on this over-populated planet. But, again, it's the big-assed elephant in the living room that can get you banned from cocktail parties. :) Or blogs where "Momtinis" and "Dadgaritas" are the drinks of choice.

NorCal Cazadora said...

It's osteo, and quite genetic: It hit me when I turned 30, hit my mom when she turned 30, hit her mom when she turned 30. Responds well to glucosamine, though.

Re kids, the reason I don't have kids is much like the reason I don't have hunting dogs: I'm sure it would be wonderful, but I love the freedom I have without them. It's just a happy side effect that I'm not contributing to overpopulation.

DarrenM said...

Holly, how do you officially feel about trophy hunting and duck snobery? My personal feeling is it's not something I'm interested in right now since I'd rather take guaranteed meat now, but can easily see how I might progress to that. If people are passing on shots, then I guess trophy hunting is having less of an impact on the population. More for me, but also more habitat destruction if that's part of the goal of hunting.

What makes it interesting for me is that "trophy hunters" are so easily lumped in with bad hunters by the antis.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I'm a meat hunter right now, though I can see myself potentially upping the ante as I improve - passing on some animals and waiting for something more special is a way to increase personal challenge.

Do I care if other people trophy hunt? Not particularly. But I think the word "trophy" is problematic in the same way I think "sport hunting" is problematic: Hunters use those words with specific definitions in mind - trophy hunters hold out for the most magnificent specimens they can find, and sport hunting is how we distinguish what we do from the now-outlawed (mostly) commercial hunting.

But non-hunters think (and anti-hunters actively promote this) that trophy hunters hunt only for heads, and sport hunters hunt just for amusement, and the fact that those terms are interpreted as "hunter doesn't eat the meat" is a huge problem.

Even in the absence of that misinformation, there is an element of trophy hunting that some people will object to even if they understand that trophy hunters usually eat the meat: A lot of people are uneasy with the idea that a specific animal will die just to get a hunter into a record book. So I think trophy hunters have a special burden to articulate why they do what they do.

Erich said...

I agree with much of what you say. One point I disagree with is shooting birds on the ground. I can't speak for waterfowl since I unfortunately haven't had the chance to try it. But for upland birds, I hunt grouse and woodcock, I would never shoot a bird on the ground. Last season a hunting companion did just that and I was disgusted. For me, hunting isn't about how much game I bring home. It's about bringing home as much game as I can that I've harvested in a sportsmanlike way. Everyone has to figure out what "sportsmanlike" means for them. For me, it means birds are in the air, flying, with a pretty good chance of eluding me. And just for the record, by the same token, I don't shoot deer when they're flying overhead either!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Dude, the ONLY way I shoot deer is when they're flying! LOL.

This is definitely a to-each-his-own situation for me. For example, last summer I shot a barn rabbit that apparently hadn't been exposed to hunters because when he saw me, he didn't run for his life. (Blogged about it here.)

I kinda felt creepy afterward. What I'd done didn't violate my core ethic (clean kill), and it did meet one of my core motivations (hunting for food). But I just didn't feel good about it. I can't say I'm sure how I'll react next time I face such an opportunity - plenty of my friends here pointed out that truly wild animals will make mistakes like that rabbit made - so maybe he wasn't as uninformed about the dangers of humans as I'd assumed.

On the other hand, I see shooting a bird on the ground or water in completely different light: If it's a wild animal that I've tricked into getting that close to me, it feels like a fair shot.

This is why I think it's important to distinguish between core ethics - I do think it's a problem when hunters wound animals through carelessness - and preferences. (Tovar turned me on to a great essay about that distinction here.

Bill said...

Very nice and well put. I've been wanting to put down my thoughts on this as well and you hit on some very succinct stuff that I haven't really fleshed out yet. Well done!

However, does it seem strange to anyone else that we actually have to have these "manifestos" to justify what we do?

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, Bill. I have two thoughts on your question:

The first is "Hell yes," and it seems strange that we have to justify or defend hunting at all. To me it's just a sign of how far removed from nature humanity has become.

The second is we don't really have to post manifestos. I do because while I know it's mostly hunters here, I always write with non-hunters in mind. Sometimes I do freelance stories for mainstream newspapers, and the stories almost always send readers back here. I also link to this blog from my faculty web page. And I meet lots of college students at college journalism contests, and invariably some will follow me on Twitter, which brings them here.

Whenever I meet non-hunters in person and tell them what I do, they often want to know about things like, "Do you eat what I kill?" So it just made sense to me to address some of those things in an easy-to-find place here, so non-hunters who come to this site can find answers without having to dig through 300+ posts.

mbeck said...

I like your Blog! Check this out, just something to make us all think.
I'm not sure how you feel about the author but it shouldn't really matter.
Your choices are yours and I have no problem with any of "your" choices.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, mbeck! I just checked out the piece, and I am completely willing to set aside the politics and hullabaloo surrounding the author and address what he has to say.

I think there's a kernel of important truth there - a group of people that feels the needs to trumpet its ethics might be assumed to be protesting too much.

That said, I don't think focusing on the fun, as he suggests, is the best answer. To people who know nothing about hunting, "fun" is often interpreted as "killing for shits and giggles." (I used to assume this. I wasn't an anti-hunter - I really didn't give it that much thought - but when I thought about hunters, I really assumed they got their jollies killing.)

The sad reality is that most of our nation isn't connected to even the realities of the industrial agriculture machine that feeds us, much less the way we fed ourselves for millenia. We shouldn't have to explain what we do to them. But we have to anyway.

I'm also a little astonished that Ted says he's never met an unethical hunter. I have. They're definitely not the majority, but I have met them, and to suggest he's never met an unethical hunter is like any of us saying we've never met an unethical member of our professions.

And hey: Nice skulls on your website! Have you checked out mymom's work?

Ron said...

Great post!

I'm always glad to hear when someone has switched completely to non-lead ammunition, even if it's just for the convenience of not switching back and forth. I personally prefer non-lead ammo for a number of reasons.

Like you, I've seen the video footage of eagles dying of lead poisoning. It's disturbing to say the least. I've also spoken with condor biologists who have to treat a large percentage of the central California condors for lead poisoning annually. Despite the lead ban, ranchers in the area will still use lead ammo to put down their cattle and other animals. Of course, they don’t let biologists on their private land to confirm it. But many of the birds have GPS transmitters on them. When they can see that a group of individual birds have been spending a lot time at one spot it means they’ve found a meal. And when those individuals are the ones that end up needing chelation treatment because their blood lead levels spike?! It doesn’t take much to make the connection. Whatever animal they were feasting on was put down with lead ammo. A lot less time and money would need be spent on supporting the condor population if everyone used non-lead ammo.

But it’s not just the wildlife I care about, it’s myself and my family. Lead bullets fragment considerably after impact and even after a carcass has been cleaned, many fragments may still remain. I’ve read research in which packages of game meat from multiple processing centers are x-rayed and found to contain lead fragments scattered throughout. There’s a reason lead isn’t used in paint or water pipes anymore… the last place I want it is in my families food!

Well, I wasn’t intending to write so much! But again, I enjoyed your post. You have a great set of values. If you’re interested, I’ve found a ton of great general info and scientific studies on lead/non-lead ammo here:

Debra said...

Thank you for posting your interest and enthusiasm in hunting. I have never hunted before, but I have fired a shotgun, a rifle and a pistol. My 19 year old daughter and I want to learn to hunt turkey or pheasant and possibly ducks. I'm looking forward to any women's hunting training that might come up again this spring.

Sergei said...

Holly, I truly agree with all what you say here. I could not say it better myself. I can add that if an animal roams free and unrestricted, if it is free to avoid you, I believe is OK to use whatever legal method of take is available. I do feel sorry for the animals I kill, but I fell the same for the cows who's meat I buy in Safeway, just less personal. It does not prevent me from enjoying the taste though. Everybody have their preferences and abilities of course, but it is beyond ethics. Hunting fenced animals is not really hunting, but if someone wants to do it - OK with me. I did it myself a few times, but never called it hunting. I also want to add something about guide service: I am not saying it is unethical to use a guide, but then you cannot say you hunted that animal yourself, you just shot at what the guide pointed to.

serjio said...

HI Hollie,

I read your post and definitely I share most of your value. I never hunted (when I was kids i had hard time to see animal being killed and I was against Hunting. I never used firearm in my life (I was living in Europe for most of my life so I am not into guns at all..). However since I moved to the NW (Portland) I kind of developed some interesting as you said to try to get my food and have that kind of experience instead of eating something that I do not know where does it come from. I tend to be very conscious on what I buy in terms of food, and fortunately here in Portland there are many opportunity. SO I would like to know if you can suggest me how to approach this interest, I do not know anyone hunting here, I would like to have some woman teaching me...because I think it is easier to share all the value you listed.
Any suggestion is welcome.
Ciao Sergio

NorCal Cazadora said...

Serjio, I don't personally know of any women who can teach you, but I think there are a substantial number of men who share my values as well, so your best bet is to look for any educational opportunities you can get. Good place to start? Click here for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's education page. I know it's hard to learn how to hunt without a personal mentor, but if you look for lots of learning opportunities, you may just find a mentor in one of them.

Will said...

My ethics when it comes to taking a life align very closely with yours. The only real difference between the two of us is that I'm more of a fisherman than a hunter, and in fact haven't hunted in years. I enjoy the taste of wild game, but never enjoyed the hunt.