all creatures

My dad is a hunter.

Not just a couple times a year with his gun out to find Bambi kind of hunter, but a serious lover of nature and animals and being in the woods.

My brother is also a hunter.

My other brother also dabbles in the hunting.

My grandfather and uncles hunt.

This time of year has always meant a lack of “man” around our family.  I never thought it was strange though.  It’s just how it was in my family.

In fact, I always sort of looked forward to the weekend my dad would take my brothers and go up north to the “huntin’ cabin” with my grandpa.  It was just me and my mom.

When I was very young, I used to question my dad about killing animals.  He seemed to love them so much and marvel at them, I didn’t get how he could murder them.

My dad used to go back to the Bible, to the book of Genesis, and tell me about how God made these beautiful animals for humans to enjoy–which included clothing us and feeding us and loving us.

Animals are part of how God provides for our needs.

He also used to tell me that God trusts humans to also take care of animals.  It is our job to use them appropriately, but to also make sure that we do not abuse them or cause them to suffer.

This is how my dad explained why we eat animals and why we can also have pets.

They are our gifts from God.

My dad is a hunter.

He sees all of nature as a beautiful creation by the Great Artist.  As a gift for him to enjoy.

My dad travels the country to enjoy this gift.

And he hunts.

He shoots deer mostly, but he has also hunted bigger game (including bear) with either gun or bow/arrow.

He kills animals.

But he does it in the way he believes God intended.

While he might show us pictures of the animal to show the beauty and strength, he does not  take gory pictures of himself covered in the blood of the animal to prove his manliness over the beast.  And then post it all over facebook.

ahem.

He takes special care to use every piece of the animal, and what he knows our family won’t eat he gives away to others in the form of steaks, burger, and jerky.

Recently my dad shot a spike (a young male deer with only spikes for antlers yet) because it was limping from a wound.  He didn’t do it because the deer was an easy shot–in fact, young deer are not usually the “prize” shot because they don’t have as much meat.

No, my dad did it out of compassion.  That deer would have suffered a terrible death otherwise.

In fact, when he “cleaned it,” he found that the deer had almost no muscle-tone or fat.  It had been already suffering.

He did the right thing.

This fall my dad also went out west to Wyoming.  While there, he and a buddy went for a drive to see the beauty of their natural surroundings.  On this drive they spotted a mountain lion.  Plenty of their friends has seen them, but this was the first time my dad saw one.

He told me the story with awe in his voice.  The cat, he said, was just like my house cat, Louis, but bigger.  more powerful.  and it was staring right at them.

“Shoot him,” my dad’s friend told him.

But my dad didn’t do it.  He wasn’t there to hunt mountain lions.  Their meat is virtually no good and there is no real use for them.  Shooting the cat would be “just because it’s there,” and that is not my dad’s style.

He hunts the animals he does because of the sport and the respect that go with it.

He has talked many times about responsibility and compassion and respect when it comes to being a hunter.

It is because of these talks and his stories that I have learned to have an appreciation for the outdoors.  I have never been much of a “nature girl,” but growing up in the woods with an outdoors-man for a father has been an education in awe and respect.

I wish all hunters felt the same way as my dad does about animals.  It disgusts me to see pictures on facebook of people with bloody arms and hands in the foreground of a picture with a mangled deer in the background.  I hide those who show themselves or their friends dragging a carcass around behind vehicles as in jest.

It makes me sad the complete disrespect some people have.

If you are out to hunt just to prove your something about how tough you are with a gun or bow/arrow, I wish you wouldn’t hunt.

Something tells me these people have other issues that should be dealt with before they start taking them out on something (or someone) other than animals.

Now…does anyone have a burger they want to share?  For some reason I am totally hungry all of a sudden.

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