Along The Trail 5-7-15

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Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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Last week, while at a work-related event, one of the fellas attending the meeting asked me how turkey season was going and if I was still hunting with a “stickbow”.

Never one to pass up a chance to talk about the woods, bows and arrows and hunting, I told my pal about my experiences so far this season, the “almosts” and “only ifs”. A long story short, heard plenty of birds gobbling, had a close encounter or two, but no feathers harmed by my arrows.

My cohort couldn’t understand why I chose to hunt with a longbow and commented, “You know, you’d be done by now if you picked up a 12 gauge” – and he’s right. Two times so far this season, if I had chosen to use a shotgun, old Tom turkey would have taken a short ride home with me in the back of the SUV and turned into fried turkey tenders. I tried to explain to him why I bowhunted the birds, what I enjoyed so much about being in the woods with a primitive weapon and a quiver full of arrows, but the more I talked, the more his eyes glazed over and it became obvious, he just didn’t “get it”.

Which is the point of this week’s article. We as hunters make up about five percent of the population. The vast majority of folks out there are non-hunters and a few are anti-hunting. Most people don’t care one way or another about hunting, as long as we are doing it in a legal and ethical fashion. Where we run into trouble as hunters is when we put the “kill” ahead of everything else.

In today’s world of the outdoor industry and hunting circles, we are pushed to kill, harvest or take our prey, at almost any cost. The “whack ’em and stack ’em attitude” doesn’t help draw anyone into our camp and in my opinion, turns the non-hunters into anti-hunters: kill, kill, kill.

At one point in time, hunters were seen as stewards of wildlife, protectors of wilderness, true conservationists. The Aldo Leopolds of the world.

Now, sadly, we have turned hunting into something less honorable. It has become a competition between ourselves and the animals or our fellow hunters. It’s all about “one upmanship” and “whose is better”, “whose is bigger”.

Modern hunting has lost sight of what this sport, hobby, pastime, lifestyle, what ever you choose to call it is supposed to be. It’s win at all costs and that coming home empty handed equals failure.

No, some of us out there hunting don’t get it and, unfortunately for my buddy he falls into that category. I’ve still haven’t killed a turkey with my longbow – but, I’m “hunting” and that, my friends, is the point.

- David Hewitt