HUNTING -- Reaction to my outdoors column about hunting being a form of tough love has included several readers suggesting there's a sixth stage of hunter development: The Non-Killing Stage.
This would be the stage in which a hunter no longer has the energy, enthusiasm or heart to kill an animal. I would argue this is not a last stage of being a hunter but rather the first stage of being a nonhunter.
But as one reader said, " Haven't you ever looked at the dead mallard you just shot and asked yourself, 'Why the hell did I do that?'"
My answer: No.
I'm pretty careful about aiming my rifle or pointing my shotgun ONLY at creatures I fully intend to kill.
However, I almost always feel a sense of sadness that the creature is dead. This is a trait found only in human predators, not in any other predator found on the planet.
I don't find elation in killing.
On the other hand, to start eating a whitetail buck without killing it first would be cruel.