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Readers say there’ a sixth stage of hunter development

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.