Thoughts About Hunting

images-3Though I don’t hunt, I never disparage those who do. As a child, hunting was as familiar to me as swatting mosquitoes or tattling. I grew up thinking everybody ate venison, hung antlers on outbuildings, and transported dead deer on their car fenders.

My high school principal overlooked absentees on the first day of deer season, and the town sponsored a deer hunters’ ball the night before — an event featuring red hunting apparel and more action in the parking lot than the dance hall.

My dad initiated my brothers into the culture of hunting, but not my sisters and me. I don’t remember caring — except in recent years when my brothers tell stories about hunting with Dad, and I can’t correct them on the details.

When my brother, Bob, served a mission in Canada for two years, he admitted being homesick during hunting season. He missed the smell of crushed sagebrush in fields of pheasant, dreamed about stalking deer up a draw, longed to sight ducks in the cold morning fog on Utah Lake. He didn’t mention being homesick at Christmastime, on his birthday, or for his family. I guess we were so much chopped liver.

My dad worked night shift at an iron mill, hunted deer during the day, and never met a mountain he couldn’t climb with quick efficiency. He hunted through his eighties, though he no longer cared if he killed anything; he didn’t need the meat; he just liked looking out from the top of a mountain.

I have one deer story of my own: My parents moved to Lander, Wyoming, while I was in college, so I traveled there for Christmas vacations. The first year I did so, a friend I’d met the summer before called to see if I wanted to go sledding up Sink’s Canyon that night with her and a couple of Lander boys she knew.

A full moon lit our way down a swooping track crossed by tree shadows, and a bonfire warmed us between runs. I began to see the appeal of a life in Lander.

Later, as we drove down the canyon, a deer jumped in front of the car. After impact, it struggled on the ground until one of the boys took a gun from the trunk and killed it. Familiar stuff, until the experience took a new twist. The guys dressed out the deer, found its liver, cut off a chunk, and ate it.

When offered a piece, I declined.

I felt at home when I moved into the hunting town where I now live. Local hunters seem safe and skilled, and visiting hunters seem appreciative of our area. Though I miss some of the hikes my husband and I discontinue so hunters can have their day, I like the uptick of activity as the days shorten, the mountains change color, snow rides into town, and hunters take to the hills.



23 thoughts on “Thoughts About Hunting

  1. Wonderful story Janet. I remember when Blaine and JL would bring home deer or elk. After we had butchered it and packaged it we always gave the folks the liver. They loved it! Which is a good thing since none of us can stomach it!


  2. You captured the reasons Mitch and Nate give for hunting…more the outdoor experience together, with the plus of venison. We have 80 yr old photos of family men hunting. Mitch will appreciate your thoughts and this post.


  3. Good evening Janet, once again your blog was like opening a surprise- never negate that gift. I had 18 uncles who all hunted, we always got a chunk of moose every year. I hunted grouse, deer and ducks with my dad as a very little person and recall playing in a snow covered gut pile. In Manitoba I had respect for the Native hunters up north, when they got moose and caribou it was all shared out, everybody ate. Ma called liver “cowboy steak” and let us wear our hats and boots at the table, we scarfed it down, was about 15 when I figured it out.. Thanks again!


  4. Janet, that is a wonderful story. I love how you are annoyed that you’re not able to correct your brothers because you were not there! Really made me smile. The thought of eating the liver raw was too much for me! ❤


  5. The way folks “hunt” today is not what I would call hunting. They put out corn for the deer in a feeder, set up a deer blind, and sit in the blind until the unsuspecting deer come for a snack. What they are doing is not hunting, it is just killing.


  6. I couldn’t agree with you more. My dad and brothers worked hard to out think and out climb the deer they spotted and came home empty-handed as often as not, unlike those who hunt as you described.


  7. Hi Janet,

    I have to agree with wakingofthebear; bating animals, or chasing them down on ATVs until they’re too tired (not to mention terrified) to resist the gun is NOT hunting! And, unfortunately I hear too many of those stories these days.

    However, I don’t have a problem with ethical hunters. A good friend of ours is a hunter who feeds his family for a year on the game he kills. He shoots only what he and his family will eat and never takes anything out of season. Also, just as your Dad and brothers did, he’s building family memories with his twin sons who accompany him into the field.

    Thanks for this post—you just reminded me to get out those orange hats (and an orange collar for our dog) when we go hiking this month!


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