By Ashlyn Bowers
Imagine opening the back door and seeing whitetail bucks herding through the yard. Across the field, long beard turkeys start strutting and gobbling for the hens’ attention. Mallard and greenhead ducks begin swarming the tree tops that are lining the river. The huntress reaches cautiously for her gun, making sure of the alignment and brings home dinner for her family.
After receiving hate messages upon threats on all social media accounts, a woman can’t process why it is ethically acceptable to propogate such harassment in retaliation for a picture with a long awaited eight-point buck. It is impossible to understand the cruelty that is put into such hate from someone who doesn’t understand the reasons behind hunting. It’s been a way of life from the very beginning, especially in the small towns of Newberry County. In fact, because of the amount of hunters in her hometown, the subject of hunting should be offered as an elective in the local high schools.
Hunting is about the journey. The feeling of opening day compares to a kid who’s too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve. Walking through the woods on a crisp fall morning in hopes of seeing the buck that’s been on the trail camera for weeks will inspire a night owl to become an early bird. The quietness of the woods lingers in the deer stand as she takes in the serene moment. The vibrant sunrise eases over the fog showcasing a field of shimmering dew. Just after day break, deer begin trickling from the woods. Easing her binoculars up, antlers are seen plowing through the branches of the trees.
It’s about the text message that she sends her daddy after she drops the buck dead in his tracks. She begins thanking the good Lord for the animal He’s allowing her to harvest while patiently waiting for her daddy and granddaddy to arrive at the stand. The adrenaline continues to race through her body as she climbs down from the stand, jumping into the arms of her family filling their ears with squeals of excitement. The feeling of joy comes across her face as she sends her boyfriend the bragging picture documenting the result of her morning.
It’s about maintaining a balanced wild life and providing organic, hormone-free food. Venison is none other than a lean source of protein, unlike the grocery store, plastic-wrapped pieces of meat. It’s about knowing where the food on her table comes from and the satisfaction of going into the woods and harvesting it herself. Hunting for food is healthier, safer and more ethical than the torment that other animals must endure through meat factories.
Hunting is about the appreciation of life and the value of a wild animal. The experience forces her to slow down and enjoy the moment even through the nasty comments she receives. It’s about being thankful for family traditions. The knowledge of tracking a deer, gun safety and the proper way to shoot an animal without ruining the meat is the certification for residency in her hometown. The hate she receives from anti-hunters does not compare to the bliss she receives from an early morning spent in the woods. If the only thing that’s taken away from a hunt is gratitude, it’s a success.
Now, pass the deer steak this way.
Bowers is a mass communications major