I hate Bambi!
Few images have done more harm to the reality of life in the wild than that children's story. The notion that Bambi, with his huge antlers intact in the middle of winter, stands guard over his doe and fawn (there are no fawns in mid-winter) is fantasy at its best.
In reality Bambi, being the biggest and strongest, protects no creature but himself. He will kick away any other deer from whatever food there is until he has had his fill. Then others may eat.
That's the fact.
But every year, just before regular deer-hunting, someone pontificates, usually in the newspaper, that if deer had guns and could shoot back, the "slaughter" of deer would be eliminated, that we ruthless hunters are somehow living on a lower level than the more enlightened.
These anti-hunting writings reveal that the writers are spouting about something they know nothing about.
It is the very fact that deer cannot "shoot back" that deems they must be hunted. For their own good. To manage the species.
Everytime we pass a farm, we see beef fenced in the pasture, chickens in the coop, pigs in the sty, all in captivity - waiting to be killed. That doesn't seem to upset folks any. Is it because we purchase our meat at the market all wrapped in cellophane that the death of the animal that produced it seems so impersonal to us?
I have yet to hear anyone at the meat counter decrying the slaughter of the chickens they are putting in the shopping cart. But let some folks hear I have shot a deer and they are horrified.
The stark truth is that before any meat, tame or wild, can be used for food it must be killed. God decreed it so.
But really, it isn't the death of the animals that bothers people or we'd all be vegetarians. It seems to be the fact that the hunter hunts in the name of sport.
If we make our living chopping heads off chickens, it's a respectable job. If we pick up a gun and go after our Thanksgiving turkey in the wilds, we are bloodthirsty killers. Almost without fail, such ideas are promoted by those who do not hunt, never have hunted and simply don't know what they are talking about.
Modern firearms, they say, puts all the advantage on the hunter's side.
Whether you have a slingshot or magnum rifle in hand you still have to locate the quarry, stalk it or outwit it somehow before you can get close enough to fire a shot. The hunter uses the most up-to-date firearms or bows in order to make a quick, humane kill.
Outwitting the quarry is the apex of the hunt, not the moment of the shot.
Wild animals and birds have highly developed instincts and senses which man does not have. They can run faster, scent us from 300 yards away, see and hear far better than we. They can climb trees, run into holes, hide behind a blade of grass or fly. The odds that they will get away are about 80-20 in their favor.
If hunting is so easy I ask why it is that only about 1 in 10 hunters bag a deer?
Truth is, the hunter enjoys the chase and the challenge. He pulls the trigger because that is the only way to get the deer from forest to dinner table.
To outwait/outwit a wild animal is an accomplishment. Of that, the hunter is proud. His mounted heads on the den wall are the equivalent of the super bowl ring or a case full of bowling trophies. They are larger-than-life photographs that conjure up special memories every time we glance at them.
Non-hunting folks think of the wild animal in the same way they think of their own pets. But pets, with masters who feed, groom and provide medical attention, shelter and so on, are lucky. Animals of the forest have no such personal care.
To prove the point, just watch the pitiful pleas of the animal protection groups on TV, begging us to monetarily support their efforts to care for neglected and abused domestic animal. Are you aware of how many thousands of animals are euthanized annually because there is no care for them?
Mother Nature does not care about the comfort of individual animals. Survival of the fittest is more the mandate of the wild. Nor are animals guided by human emotions. They operate purely by instinct.
In the human realm, we see to it that our offspring's needs are met before our own. Not so in the wild kingdom. When snow is deep and food is scarce, as is the case in the woods even as you read this, the stronger animals dominate the feeding patterns. The small and weak die first of starvation if there is not enough food to sustain the number of deer in a given territory.
And Big Bambi does not care!
Mother Nature does not put her surplus wild creatures "to sleep." She starves them, allows predator or packs of dogs to pull them down and hamstring them and begin eating them while they are still alive.
Gruesome? You bet.
The hunter's bullet is a more desirable fate. It is the best game management tool we have.
So the person who eats meat that someone else has killed and packaged for him ought not to criticize the person who is eating meat he killed himself.
And venison is the cleanest, healthiest, most low-fat meat on the planet.
The bottom line is that I and other hunters are not hung up on going afield and harvesting our venison ourselves as opposed to going to the supermarket and purchasing meat that we have to pay someone else to kill and package for us.
So when someone inevitably asks me how I can kill those "poor innocent deer," I simply ask them in return how they can purchase steak and hamburger at the supermarket that they have to pay someone else to kill.