Outdoors blog

Seasoned hunter finds no 'joy' in the kill, but relishes the hunt

A whitetail buck, shown as it was found after Dan Hoke of Spokane bagged it during the rut near Lake Pend Oreille toward the end of Idaho's rifle deer season. (Dan Hoke)
A whitetail buck, shown as it was found after Dan Hoke of Spokane bagged it during the rut near Lake Pend Oreille toward the end of Idaho's rifle deer season. (Dan Hoke)

HUNTING -- I traded emails a few years ago with a local hunter named Dennis regarding the feelings we experience when we are skillful and/or lucky enough to fill our big-game tags.  I've kept his last note as a reminder of the fence many sportsmen walk as we make the ultimate decision to squeeze the trigger:

Being a hunter, and growing older makes for constant reflection in my justification for pursuing and dispatching warm-blooded animals. Many of my friends have quit as they age. I guess we tend to become more in touch with our mortality, and find ourselves wanting to preserve life rather than ending it.

I harvested a nice mature buck this year, and although I hit him hard in the vital zone, I had to follow up and apply the coup de grace. I told my son just how I felt standing there, that it gave me no pleasure to put an end to that animal's life. Were it not for the great tablefare it provided, and the time I got to enjoy with my son in the field, I would have left the rifle in the cabinet and found something else to do.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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