I recently watched a so-called comedy show with my wife based on the main actors going hunting. They lived in the south and were bowhunting deer. Each character showed up wearing orange vests and hats for a bow hunt.
My wife shot a concerned glance at me, knowing I was about to pick this show apart. Bowhunters do not wear hunter’s orange clothing, although some might while walking to and from their blind.
The actors stated that hunting was their tradition, just as many of us perceive this sport. I had no problem with that. But then they keyed in on how the kill was their main reason for hunting. I know there are hunters like that, but thankfully most of us see more in hunting than harvesting an animal.
Before leaving one hunter sipped on a beer while stuffing more in his hunting vest. Even the most mediocre hunters never mix alcohol with firearms – pure common sense.
Finally, they arrived at the woods and were stomping around and talking in loud voices until they walked up on a doe that stood there looking frightened. That deer would have been long gone.
The young boy would not shoot – and I have no problem with that – hunting is not for everyone. His father, of course, was disappointed that the boy would not carry on their family tradition.
Others from this hunting party in a tree stand started yelling at each other and stomping around until another doe walked up and stood there – like that would ever happen. The deer looked extremely frightened and instead of bounding off into the deep woods, it stood there trembling. Then in loud voices they discussed shooting the deer until one of the hunters fell out of the tree stand and hung by a safety cord.
A lady shot at the doe that had not run yet and missed when the falling gentleman hit her arm and she claimed in disgust of that being the first time she missed killing a buck – even though it was a doe.
By now you get the point that it was Hollywood – or whoever – making hunters seem like a bunch of simpletons stomping around the woods and only desiring to kill. I really didn’t expect them to get the point of what we do. Only true hunters understand.
Perhaps we bring this kind of satire on ourselves. Some hunters project the Elmer Fudd image of someone bumbling around in search of a rabbit or some other creature. They show up to kill something for bragging rights. Not all hunters are ethical or ambitious enough to learn how to hunt the correct way.
The best hunts focus on being in the woods, marsh or fields and watching good dogs work. This is quality time to spend with family or friends while sharing a passion. Killing is a part of hunting, but not the most memorable part, although bragging rights over a good deer or brace of mallards is not uncommon. Both are good meat and hunters who succeeded should be proud.
The majority of hunters are meticulous on how their hunt is conducted with firearms safety being their first consideration – the only people I hunt with. That is partly because I, as a hunting journalist, am constantly with strangers. Lack of gun safety signals me to leave immediately.
Hollywood and other sources of entertainment will always make hunters look foolish. I suppose it will always be that way, especially in comedic work.
Hunters’ goals should be not to create headlines by carelessness or breaking game laws. Our job is to learn how to hunt each species to be pursued. This may start by watching hunting shows while listening to how they use a game call, their camouflage and other factors of a successful hunt.
Next become totally familiar with the firearm you intend to use. Gun familiarization is a key to firearms safety and the all-important one-shot kill. A wounded creature suffers and is lost, probably wasted. Knowing your firearm and how to shoot is essential.
Hunter education classes should be required for every hunter – beginners or experts. Novice hunters learn about hunting and how to use their firearm. Experienced hunters, too, occasionally make fatal mistakes and a refresher course should be welcomed, although this may mean bruising your ego. Problem is, the bullet or shotgun pellets are gone once the trigger is pulled – no matter who is holding the gun.
Understand the bird or animal you are planning to hunt. This may take some study or even observation on conservation areas where the animals are protected. There is always a lot to learn about any creature and knowing their habits will make you more successful.
Truthfully, we can never change the way some perceive hunters to be, especially when slob hunters continue to create negative headlines. We can only make sure of our own actions and not add fodder to a Hollywood script.
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.