By Jason Reid
New York –-Ammoland.com- After killing the biggest buck of my life last fall, my school, Houghton College posted a picture of me and the deer on their Facebook page. One lady whom we will call Mrs. B commented on the picture.
Mrs. B: “Not a fan of this at all! Hope the buck had a painless death – doubt it though! Sad!”
This felt like a critical moment at least in my young career as a hunter. How would I stand up for myself and my culture under questioning? Many exchanges between hunters and anti-hunters ends in unproductive rhetoric. Just look in the comments section of any YouTube video. Is explaining ourselves even worth the time to people who don't want to listen? Also debatable.
But for the first time in my life, someone was questioning my way of life, and a completed goal. As an ambassador for our culture, I did the only thing I knew, I wrote.
Here was my response:
(Written in a very calm, caring, no anger in my voice.) Mrs. B, I understand your dislike and possible anger towards what I did. It is understandable and everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect yours and those of all non hunters although I clearly disagree. Just to clear the air on a few things. Before I get going- the first thing I did when found him, I knelt in the muddy tangled brush, removed my hat and prayed, giving thanks to God. I cried, not out of pride but out of thanks to God for giving me a chance at this deer. These intimate moments connect you with the real world, mother nature- the full circle of life. This deer expired quickly, less than a minute. In fact because I was using a bow and arrow, his death was far less painful than a bullet or how mother nature would have killed him.
Ever see a deer die from Blue Tongue? A disease where the deer’s tongue swells up and they cannot drink, thus killing them slowly from dehydration. How about having their leg tendons cut by a predator like a wolf, bear or coyote and having their gut ripped open and then is eaten alive. Mother nature is ugly, painful and brutal.
A natural death like so many non hunters hope for is misunderstood. Just because the word natural is in the phrase does not mean it is quiet and painless. There is far more pain, far more anguish and stress on the animal. How about a car? Deer accidents are brutal, I’ve seen far too many deer squirming around on the road after being smashed, not to mention it puts other people in danger. My arrow took him fast and painless.
Due to my razor sharp arrow head, he had no idea what had hit him. In fact, he continued on his causal business until he fell over. If you have ever cut yourself with a razor you will know a razor cut bleeds fast but is clean and painless. Same concept.
Now another area I should touch on is about the “trophy”.
Yes, my buck is big, actually huge, they rarely grow that size here in New York because so many people take deer when they are small. People hate the word trophy because of the idea that people like me are only out after the antlers. Not the case. He weighed well over 200 pounds providing myself, family and friends with over 100 pounds of fresh venison, far healthier than the meals I get at a resturant. A trophy is in the eye of the beholder, Regardless of the size, every animal is a trophy to the person. If you want to think about trophy hunting one way, in the words of one of my good friends and mentors, Archery legend Dennis Dunn, he writes in his book Barebow: An Archer’s Fair Chase Taking of North America’s 29 Big Game Species,
“Trophy hunting is actually the purest form of hunting since we are not shooting the first animal we see, we are waiting for the oldest, wisest and smartest of the species.”
I have let countless deer pass over the years in order to promote the well being of the heard by not shooting the future. There is also an incredible challenge in taking one of the oldest animals. These big bucks are smart, darn smart. I am pitting my mind as a human against the best of the species. This chess game is addicting. It is the ultimate way to stay in touch with our primal senses. I am connected to the pulse of life and understand just how quickly life can be taken.
This deer was on his way out, he was over the hump so to speak. He was a perfect animal to take out of the herd for many reasons I do not have time to explain. Being undetected watching animals in their habitat is a rush you must experience for yourself.
Hunting in general has kept me out of trouble and even led to opportunities for employment. This is not a sad event, rather a happy event, a celebration of life.
To have won the ultimate chess match, to be able to provide lean meat for myself and to be able to help the deer herd as a whole. What more can a college student ask for? The head and antlers will be mounted on my wall not for pride but as a reminder of the time and effort I have put in chasing deer and the love I have for these animals. Yes, I said it, I LOVE ANIMALS, myself and fellow hunters love and care more for animals and the lands than any self proclaimed animal lover, If you need proof, look at the amount of time effort and money spent on conservation by the hunting community. Life isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and fairies. Bottom line, in death there is life. If Christ did not die for us, we would not have life or the chance at eternal life. That is a fact.
About Jason Reid
Jason Reid is a writer and business professional from upstate New York. After deciding to pursue his dream of becoming an outdoor writer, Jason started a blog from his dorm room at Houghton College, growing it and working hard to earn opportunities. While bowhunting big game is his ultimate passion, Jason welcomes all outdoor challenges which force him to push his limits. Jason's work can be viewed on his website Pushingthewildlimits.com