The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 17, 2012

Don Steese column: Sad story sheds grim light

I am deeply saddened and thoroughly sickened whenever I hear of a story such as the one related in a recent edition of The Daily Item in which some sick, evil, soul (if they even have a soul), drove an arrow into someone’s pet cat and left the poor animal to die a slow, lingering death. Someone with that much blood lust in their heart is, in my humble opinion, mentally ill and in desperate need of treatment.

The above sentiment comes from a hunter who, on occasion, kills a wild bird or animal. There is, however, a world of difference between killing as the culmination of a successful hunt and the wonton killing of someone’s beloved pet. First off, when thoughtful, ethical hunters kill, there is a time of reflection when they mourn for the animal they’ve taken the life of. Hunters who give no thought to the seriousness of taking the life of an animal are not the kind of hunter I’d want to be associated with. While it’s perfectly fitting and natural to celebrate a successful hunt, the actual moment of the kill is a bittersweet one for most hunters. This natural tendency is one that needs to be encouraged. Wanton blood lust is not something we should be instilling in our younger hunters. There is a fine line between wanting to be successful and simply wanting to kill something.

Even when a farmer or rancher kills an animal that’s been continuously eating his crops or killing his cattle, they’re usually not doing it out of wanton blood lust, but out of necessity. There is generally no joy involved in the actual killing. It’s simply a distasteful job that must be done.

It may be hard to understand how hunters can love the animals we pursue, but most of us do. That’s obvious to the careful observer when you watch a grouse or pheasant hunter lovingly smooth the feathers of a downed bird before putting it into their game bag or how a deer hunter may say a little prayer of thanks when they’ve downed a nice buck. These kinds of things don’t always happen, and they tend to happen more often with older hunters who’ve killed their share over the years, but the tendency is there in most everyone who hunts, and it seems to grow with maturity. I, for one, am glad that’s the case.

Yes, I’m saddened when I see a story like the one that appeared in this paper earlier this week. I’m saddened and concerned not only about the incident itself, but about the fact that the general public will see such a story and immediately think less of hunters in general. That is something that we hunters don’t need at this point in time, with hunting in decline and the public perception of hunting being more and more important if our tradition is to continue.

When I see a story like this I’m also concerned about the kind of person who’d do such a thing and what that person is actually capable of. In my opinion, someone who can wantonly harm a helpless animal and never think twice about it is entirely capable of doing the same thing to a human being.

Far fetched? I fear not.

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