Updated: Nov 25, 2019
For almost seven years, I debated over the ethics of hunting. I married into a hunting family. My husband’s friends, cousins, aunts and uncles would all gather together at least once a year to participate in the archery or rifle deer hunt. I always enjoyed going; mostly to help spot, drive the side by side, hike, enjoy the fresh mountain air, and to photograph wildlife and flowers. However, in my mind I was constantly debating if hunting was ethical. Finally, after all this time, I came to my own conclusions.
Kayden came to me and asked me to look at Bowmar’s hunting vlogs. They are avid hunters and seemingly the only meat they eat is the meat they hunt themselves. Because of them, I felt very strongly that at some point in my life I would like to do the same. At first, my thinking was that I would not eat meat until I went hunting for my first time. Six months into this change, I became pretty sick. I was sick to the point of frequently becoming dizzy, fainting and loosing vision. Being vegetarian is not compatible with my biology, regardless of proper dieting and supplements. I still felt strongly about not eating meat, unless I was willing to take the life myself. In the meantime, I decided to eat meat and other animal products sparingly and only eat what I personally needed to feel good. I became very in tune with my body and am now very good at understanding what it needs and doesn’t need. Interestingly, since this change, I have had zero problems with my ulcerative colitis and I honestly feel it safe to say that it is completely gone.
Hunting is not easy. Hours and hours are spent practicing shooting with a bow or rifle. Can you imagine how hard it would be to hit a turkey in the head with a bow while it’s moving? Every bite of that turkey is going to be cherished and not one piece is going to get wasted. In my experience, hunting deer is difficult. Hunting zones are at 10,000ft in elevation with steep, rocky cliffs and relentless winds, heat, rain or snow. Then hauling the weight of the deer out of such conditions is even harder. It takes a team. One of my favorite stories of hunting is when my husband and his cousins helped two hunters (that they didn’t know) haul out their deer. They had shot the deer in a particularly challenging location and the two of them were struggling. One of the guys was even throwing up from the stress of elevation, heat and fatigue. My husband and his cousin didn’t waste one second to go and help them. At the end, they made new friends and strengthened their own friendship. They all earned that meat. They will emotionally connect to that meat when they think about all of their experiences. There is absolutely no disconnect like there is when we eat bacon or pork or steak. When you hunt, the meat is called by what it is. There is a story to go with it. The life of the animal is remembered.
Everybody knows that the agriculture of cows causes more worldwide pollution than even cars do! Also, we all know that the Amazon forest gets cut down bit by bit to support the agriculture of cows. This does not even include all the pollution that comes from factory farms that house chickens, pigs, turkeys, etc. Imagine if more people only hunted what foods they needed. Worldwide pollution could be reduced. Less food would be wasted. When hunters buy their hunting license, that money goes to the preservation of land. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Services directly says:
What do hunters do for conservation? A lot. The sale of hunting licenses, tags, and stamps is the primary source of funding for most state wildlife conservation efforts. By respecting seasons and limits, purchasing all required licenses, and paying federal excise taxes on hunting equipment and ammunition, individual hunters make a big contribution towards ensuring the future of many species of wildlife and habitat for the future. By paying the Federal excise tax on hunting equipment, hunters are contributing hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation programs that benefit many wildlife species, both hunted and non- hunted. Each year, nearly $200 million in hunters' federal excise taxes are distributed to State agencies to support wildlife management programs, the purchase of lands open to hunters, and hunter education and safety classes. Proceeds from the Federal Duck Stamp, a required purchase for migratory waterfowl hunters, have purchased more than five million acres of habitat for the refuge system (2005 statistics only); lands that support waterfowl and many other wildlife species, and are usually open to hunting. Local hunting clubs and national conservation organizations work to protect the future of wildlife by setting aside thousands of acres of habitat and speaking up for conservation in our national and state capitals. (U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, 2014, para. 1)
Hunting helps our protect our environment. Animals cannot migrate like they once could. Our roads, our buildings and our houses prevent that. Animals need to migrate in order to manage their own populations. Without the management of populations, the entire ecosystem is haywire. Hunting protects balance in the ecosystem.
One of my greatest passions in my life is wildlife photography. I love animals. A lot. I love watching their behaviors and how they interact with their environment. In the wild, animals are free to live a long and healthy life. They can live and die with dignity. When we go to the store and buy meat, we rob animals of that. Companies do a really good job at marketing “free range” or "cage free" animals. It is naïve to think that agriculture animals live a pampered life. In reality, most agriculture animals live in close quarters and in warehouses without seeing the light of day. They are numbered assembled to their deaths. I want to hunt so animals can be truly "cage free" and live "free range".
Finally, my first hunt is October 2019. I am doing the rifle hunt (mule deer) in the Manti La Sal mountain range. I bought a 6.5 Ruger Precision Rifle. I have been working out at least three times a week to stay in shape and have been out target shooting as often as I can so that when I shoot I only need to shoot once. I know that I will probably cry. This is not something I take lightly. I have spent years thinking about the ethics of hunting. I am not saying that everyone should eat meat unless they hunt it themselves. I simply ask that people will respect and support hunters and realize that many people (including myself) hunt out of love for the environment and for wildlife.
U.S Fish and Wildlife Services. (2014, March 4). What do hunters do for conservation? Retrieved from https://www.fws.gov/hunting/whatdo.html