Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Hunting Psychology: Doing Something

Sitting in the abandoned orchard this evening I poked my head round the side of a tree and saw a rabbit about fifteen yards away. I raised the rifle, but by the time I'd got the sights on its head - very large in the scope at this range - I was shaking so much I could barely keep the cross-hairs in place.

Sometimes it gets me like this. The first few times - six months ago - when I was on the point of pulling the trigger I'd often find myself trembling so much that I had to give up on taking the shot. Maybe this is my Vegetarian-Buddhist past reaching out and shaking me? Or maybe it's just that killing an animal is serious; this isn't fiction, it's real, it's happening; can I actually do this - can I take this animal's life?

Maybe, because I spend so much of my life thinking about doing things rather than actually doing them, when it comes to the point where I'm faced with an unequivocal action, like pulling the trigger, maybe things fall apart sometimes because of the shocking contrast between this and the rest of my blurry, procrastinating life? There's a lot of hanging about in hunting, but it's not all waiting and, when it's finally time to leave the familiar discomfort of the waiting room, I can get frightened.

Sometimes I think that shooting my dinner is the only real thing I ever do. This is a part of why hunting is important to me but I think it's also a part of the reason why I blow it so often; it's a big deal, this; it's not just another trivial, work-a-day thing I do; it's real; it matters.

So when the shot goes home - as it did tonight - and before I've had time to form even the least thought about it, I find that I've punched the air for joy.


  1. When we lose respect for the game that feed us, we will go hungry.

    Good hunting, my friend.

  2. When it becomes non-emotional for you, it is time to hang the rifle up. You have to know exactly what you are doing when you pull the trigger. Know it, but not over think it.

    A single shot, a clean kill, you know what you have done, and you are going to enjoy a wonderful meal this evening. HH, you know more now about yourself and the world around you, than you did this morning. And more than the majority of people around you will ever know.

    Best Regards and Good Hunting,
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
    The Range Reviews: Tactical.
    Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

  3. I've had much interaction with hunters and the world of hunting, owing to my profession. But I'm a vegetarian so I come down on a different side of the issue. I try not to level judgment, but it's difficult to restrain those impulses when hunters make comments about how "real" it is to kill -- or how it's more "real" than what the rest of us experience.

    I've been witness to plenty of slaughter and killing in my life -- of humans and animals both. And I've chosen a less violent path precisely because I experience these things with such intensity, that inflicting additional pain on any being is unfathomable to me. My life is no less "real" than yours. In fact, when I immerse myself in the outdoors in peace with other living entities, I could argue (but I don't) that my experience with nature and animals is far more genuine than yours. Being a predator robs you of the symbiotic interactions you tend to have when you become a non-threatening presence.

    So again, I'm just taking issue with this argument I hear all of the time -- that hunters experience life more genuinely than the rest of us. I have felt extreme physical pain. Perhaps I could say that I've "lived" more in this sense than anyone who chooses to inflict that harm on another. But that's awfully arrogant, don't you think?

    One doesn't need to exercise one's power over another living entity and take its life, to genuinely understand life, death, pain and suffering. That's a faculty open to any human who chooses to embrace experience and feeling without boundaries. Sadly, it seems some people, perhaps not you, but people I've witnessed out there, don't feel alive unless that sense of living is accompanied by violent acts. How sad that this is what it takes for some people to really feel alive.


  4. I'm the same way (regarding the jitters when shooting at live game). I, too, have a vegetarian and Buddhist background.

    I laugh at myself, especially when its an airgun hunt. It seems so silly to get all jittered up. But it still happens, especially when I've been away from the field for a while.

    When I was aiming at my first elk -- I expected that. When I'm aiming at a crow through an airgun scope... didn't expect it.

    Wish I could be more articulate about the hows and whys and how my philosophy around hunting has developed, but I'm dead tired at the moment. I'll be back, appreciate the blog.

    Respect from across the pond,


  5. Thank you Bp, it's nice to get your comments here.