Thursday, September 8

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('08-'10) - #23.


#23 - 'Shoot To Kill.'
(Originally published 1/18/10.)

"Tell About A Fishing Or Hunting Experience."

My dad has very transparent interests. He likes to hunt, he likes to fish, and he likes to talk about hunting and fishing. If he died tomorrow, I would bet that his love of hunting and/or fishing would show up no later than line two of his obituary. It's his life; in fact, he makes a living running a game bird farm in the town I grew up in. He has his business, he has his beautiful stretch of land, he has his guns, cold beer and friends; I'd argue he's living a far happier life than I am.

You may think that I'm being condescending, but I'm really not; I envy my dad's life. Considering how miserable he seems to be at any given time, however, this is a bit of a conflicting statement.

When I was younger, I can imagine that dad was worried about me. Sure, I played sports and stayed outdoors and active on the family farm, but my love was always writing, drawing, acting things out and essentially living in a liberal, fruity fantasy world (as an adult, I moved to Madison, an actual liberal, fruity fantasy world). That being said, he tried to get me to see the world his way- his family's way- and signed me up for a Hunter's Safety course with the payoff being an eventual deer hunt with me and my old man.

The Hunter's Safety course was spectacular. I got to hang out with my friends, watch woefully out-of-date PSA's about getting lost and subsequently going apeshit in the woods, and most importantly...handle and fire weaponry. The first time I fired a shotgun, I was knocked backwards and onto the ground, but I hit that cardboard deer right in the face (I would later find out that the goal wasn't to blow a deer's head clean off). I passed the test with flying colors, and weeks later, I was decked out in blaze orange, accompanying my dad on the first of what I figured would be many deer hunts in my life. A true bonding experience.

This venture was obviously doomed from the start, but I want to let you know that I tried. I was at a point in my life where I still ate meat, still didn't care what lived and died. I had slaughtered virtually hundreds of small animals with BB guns, and thought that my natural graduation to larger weapons and larger game was just something I was born to do. In a way, I was.

The first morning, I almost instantly fell asleep in the deer stand. Getting up at 3am shouldn't come normal to anyone, and by the time I woke up, it was time to go home for lunch.

That afternoon, though, was when I faced a defining moment in my life. There we were, my dad and I, chatting about some arbitrary topic, when a good-sized doe came scampering out of the woods. I did not have a doe tag (you need to purchase specific licenses when you hunt), but my dad did, and told me that he wanted me to take the shot.

I nodded and took aim. The doe was absolutely beautiful, wandering and looking around with no idea that she was in the crosshairs. It was at that moment that I thought about why people kill animals that they love and find beautiful. I hold no position against hunting and I don't think that hunters are bad people in the least, but at that moment, I knew that killing wasn't for me.

"I can't do it," I said. The doe ran off before any more danger could befall it.

As you can imagine, I never went deer hunting again. I don't think my dad held any ill will towards me for my epiphany; he was always fairly patient with my quirks and bizarre behavior as a kid (ignoring stuff didn't hurt, either). Even now, on the rare chance I get to visit his Game Farm, he will normally parade around his latest trophy with glee, and I can't help but be happy for the guy. He's doing exactly what he wants to be doing right now, and how can you dislike a guy for that?


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