Real wildlife not from a Disney movie

The story that held everyone in the grip of horror last fall was the Facebook video that showed a couple of teenage boys brutalizing a wounded, helpless deer. They kicked it, stomped it and broke off one of its antlers.

We wonder how anyone could be so callous, so ugly-minded that they would do such a evil act. Well, we all know that evil exists in this world. Look at the homicide rate in the country, the serial killers that seem to be always on the prowl, child abusers, robbers and a vast array of others.

These two brutes should never be allowed to hunt for the rest of their lives. That’s my opinion, but after all this is litigated and the charges watered down, and someone telling us that it isn’t their fault that they did such a hideous thing, they just weren’t given enough cookies in their childhood.

What have we come to that we would video ourselves doing such a thing and then put it on social media for everyone to see, to preen and laugh about inflicting such horror on a defenseless animal? Did they really think there would be no consequences for such a public atrocity?

There are a couple myths we should explore right now, I think. Many people, who do not hunt, believe that hunters are also cruel people who stalk wildlife in the woods and fields so we can torture them. Sportsmen, however, use the latest guns and ammunition and broadheads and darts for the cross bow so as to not inflict needless suffering to any animal.

We practice at ranges for hours to perfect our marksmanship. We want the meat for our own dinner tables. We plan and hope for the shot to be a quick and painless death and that no animal should suffer at our hands.

So before you ask me — and I wish I had a dollar for everyone who has asked me this — how I can shoot those poor, innocent animals let me ask you first who kills your Thanksgiving turkey for you, your chicken nuggets and thick steaks and even hot dogs.

Unless you are a rigid vegetarian, I won’t even discuss that subject with you.

Hunters are not sadists, out there in the wind and snow and cold to simply inflict torment on living creatures. The idea is to bag them as humanely s possible and then utilize them.

A second thing that many people do not realize is that wildlife does not belong to hunters nor to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. They belong to all the citizens of the state. Fair-chase hunting seasons are determined by the organization responsible for the oversight of wildlife in Pennsylvania and that is the Game Commission. Therefore crimes against wildlife should be prosecuted right in there with crimes for mistreating domestic animals.

So we are grateful that authorities did investigate, brought two suspects to custody. We shall see where it goes from here.

Most people love to catch sight of wildlife going about their natural routines. Folks love to hike always hoping to see some form of wildlife along the way. How many avid birdwatchers are there who feed birds all winter just so they can bring them close enough to their window to see them? I have literally seen thousands of deer in my lifetime yet every time I see one, I stop and freeze and gaze at it as though it was the first one I ever saw. If we are out in our car and catch sight of a flock of turkeys feeding in a cut cornfield, we will stop and watch them if we can.

Over 50 years ago there was a lady who was member of the same church as I was yet I didn’t really know her very well. She sheepishly approached me one day when church was over and timidly asked me if I could find it in my heart to let her accompany me the next time I went on a scouting foray in the woods.

I was tickled to have another woman to be a companion in the woods. But back in those olden days, women didn’t engage in such activities but she wanted to learn but didn’t quite have the starch to embark on a trip to the dark woods by herself.

She became my first real outdoor buddy. She never wanted to hunt but she accompanied me on many hunts, in fact, she secreted herself in some brush behind me as I set up on wild turkey. She so wanted to watch but not to interfere. So she was with me the day I bagged my very first spring gobbler. We celebrated wildly in the woods that day. We trudged around Barclay Mountain in Bradford County for many years. She and her husband bought a cabin on the edge of Gamelands there and it launched my own career as a serious hunter and outdoor writer.

Eleanor was 28 years older than me. One day our lives separated when I had to move to Altoona. It was a bittersweet separation I can assure you.

But God blessed me with another independent, expert female hunter and we beame the best of outdoor friends. You know I’m speaking of Joanie Haidle of Armstrong County about whom I often write in these pages. Things are a little reversed, however because now I am 28 years older than she.