Saturday, September 13, 2008

Empty

Today was opening day of Sharp tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge.

I have been hunting them since I was 13 years old. Hunting in general, but birds in particular has been a big part of my life. For the past 7 years though it has created a very undeniable feeling of regret every time I kill an animal (fish, bird or mammal).

For those of you who don't know I have a decent education in animal biology including behavioral and ornithology and my background is in natural resources management so I fully recognize the benefit of proper management of anything, including animals. That is not my problem. In fact if it wasn't for the wildlife management programs that have been funded by hunters, the populations in the lower 48 of almost every animal we all take for granted in the "wild" would be minimal in most cases at best.

Anyway, I shot 2 grouse today. I don't really want to get into the details of it, but as I was cleaning them and again later when I was putting the meat away I couldn't help but think that I would rather know of them out in a field somewhere tonight alive than in my fridge soon to be a meal for me, my wife and daughter.

I could have shot several partridge today as well. I quit shooting them about 14 years ago though because I haven't felt that the population is stable enough to support hunting. Oddly enough the game and fish hasn't lowered the limit which is ridiculously high even in good times (5 birds per day). Prime example how following a "science based" system isn't always the right way to do things. Ask any bird hunter in ND and they will tell you that the population is way down from what it used to be.

Unfortunately for the partridge the hunting partner I was with today doesn't see things the same way I do and they will be dinner soon as well. It really doesn't matter though, because if he wouldn't have shot them someone else would have. I know that based on the location where we were hunting when we shot them. They would have been in the same place and someone would have walked the trees they were in. Same for the grouse I shot.

Anyway, I continually think of this passage out of Walden by Thoreau concerning my internal conflict. He describes it so well. I have in the past and continue to put more time into the hunting than almost any other "hobby". I can't understand it, but when I think of other things I could do or buy with the money I spend on it I can think of very very few. Like only 1 and I should focus on that, but every year when hunting season comes around I find myself in the field hunting.

I'm pretty sure that I will always be a hunter, but I can tell my role as a hunter is slowly evolving.

Anyway, here is parts of the passage:

"I have found repeatedly, of late years, that I cannot fish without falling a little in self-respect. I have tried it again and again. I have skill at it, and, like many of my fellows, a certain instinct for it, which revives from time to time, but always when I have done I feel that it would have been better if I had not fished. ... There is unquestionably this instinct in me which belongs to the lower orders of creation; yet with every year I am less a fisherman, though without more humanity or even wisdom; at present I am no fisherman at all. But I see that if I were to live in a wilderness I should again be tempted to become a fisher and hunter in earnest."

1 comment:

If you can think it, it can happen. said...

I'm glad to report that I just checked the limit on partridge and they are at 3 not 5.

I wish they would make it 0, but its a start.