Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hunters: Helping the critters we hunt

Interesting confluence of events: Just Monday morning, a non-hunter commented on my weekend blog post, asking whether hunters care about the animals that we wound and lose. We actually had a great discussion about it in the comments section, well worth reading.

Then this morning, I'm going through my news alerts, and what do I find but this story from an Omaha TV station, WOWT, about a duck hunter trying to rescue a duck that's all tangled up in fishing line.

The hunter, Felix Recek, had been trying to help the bird, and his daughter called the Nebraska Humane Society. Now, regular readers know I'm not a fan of the Humane Society of the U.S., which has a vigorous and often disingenuous anti-hunting agenda. But many local humane societies are actually dedicated to helping animals, and this one used the opportunity to tell the public that leaving trash out in nature can really harm wild animals. Good call.

The TV reporter, of course, focuses on the fact that the man trying to help the duck might normally be shooting at the little guy. It even shows a picture of Recek wearing a strap of ducks from a successful hunt. I think any non-hunter would find the juxtaposition just as odd.

But there isn't a hunter out there who would find Recek's explanation odd: "I'm a duck hunter," he tells the reporter. "But I don't like to see animals suffer."

One of my students, Karina, came to me last year with the same confusion. She'd just married a duck hunter, and she was astonished one day when they were driving someplace and he screeched to a halt. Ducklings were crossing the road. He quickly got out of the car and herded them to safety.

Karina couldn't wait to tell me the story. "I don't get it, Holly. He's going to kill them later," she said.

I explained that just because we kill some animals certainly doesn't mean we hate them. What it usually means is that we have heightened awareness and concern for the overall well-being of wildlife. She took my word for it, but I could see she didn't understand.

In one more odd confluence of events, though, Karina came to my office Monday afternoon at the precise time she could catch both me and Boyfriend there. She was, once again, breathless. She looked like she was about to burst.

"I went duck hunting this weekend!" she said.

She had gone out with her hunter husband on opening day to see what it was he loved so much about it.

"What did you think?" we asked guardedly.

"I LOVED IT!" she exclaimed. "I want to hunt!"

I think she's starting to get it.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


Anonymous said...

That's very cool. It's always great to see another person learn more about what hunting really is.

SimplyOutdoors said...

That's awesome. Another one coming over to our side.

It is hard to explain to people that hunters are animal lovers too. Sure, the ultimate goal is to kill something, but that isn't all it's about. Plus, we want it to be on fair terms, with them having just as much of a chance to escape as we do of filling a tag. That is what makes the hunt so exciting and so rewarding in the end--that, and it provides some great table fare later on.

Anyway, I went on a little ride there for a minute, but I'm glad to see that she now is starting to get it.

Tom Sorenson said...

Ah - what a good story! That's a feel good story for us hunters. :) Love to hear that Karina is beginning to get it. Good that a hunter is getting media coverage for doing something positive, too - it isn't real often the media shows us doing good things!

Jon Roth said...

What a great story - both from the News and your student!

Anonymous said...

I am the same way. I love to deer hunt but on the other hand if I saw a wounded deer depending on the situation and time of year I wouldn't think twice about helping it.

Contrary to popular belief by the non-hunters out there we are not all bad people and we really do care.

Linda Le Park said...

I remember having a similar conversation with you. It was a while ago when a hunter shot a duck and thought he killed it, then later it ended up alive in his refrigerator and I said I thought it was weird that he decided to take care of it instead of killing it and you said you would do the same.
I liked this blog, makes a non-hinter like me kind of get it ... Kind of. ;)

Linda Le Park said...

Non-Hunter, non hinter. Grrr

Josh said...

It seems to me that the sense to help something wounded is one of those universal human responses. We are compassionate by nature, and with hunters, that compassion is tempered with a true understanding, and the act fed with a confidence lacking in people who aren't blessed with experiences with animals. We talk about the grand and ethereal 'nature', but we rarely have grand or ethereal experiences. We have real experiences with individuals and individual animals and places, and then we reflect on these times and relationships in their totality and they become grand.

Holly Heyser said...

Good point, Josh. I think what the hunter says in this video is right on: We don't enjoy watching suffering. To me, anyone who would enjoy that is a sicko, not a hunter.

Native said...

You Know Holly, I really like the dialog here addressing the concerns and compassion that we all have towards the animal inhabitants of our wonderful earth.

The thing which I am concerned with also is the blatant disrespect which some people will show this beautiful blue planet on which we all reside.

The main message which I see in this news report is to please be responsible and take care of your "litter" responsibly!
Had it not been for the carelessly discarded fishing line, the duck would not have gotten into that type of trouble in the first place.