An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 7, 2003
issued from the woods near Natchez, Mississippi, USA

DOVE HUNTING SEASON OPENS

Monday was the beginning of Dove Hunting season here. I learned that one morning when as I jogged down Roxie Road a friendly neighbor pulled up next to me, rolled down his window and with his shotgun lying in the seat behind him told me so as I trotted along. He wanted to be in the fields with his gun cocked when the sun's first rays cut through the fog.

I suspect that I'll be rubbing shoulders with hunters until next February or so, so I'd like to be clear about my attitude toward hunting and hunters. Nearly everyone seems to assume that I, being a hardcore vegetarian, regard hunters as my mortal enemies, but that's not the case.

The main hunting in this area is for deer. Since the larger predators, mainly wolves, have been exterminated here, if hunting didn't remove deer, then the deer population would explode. And, to me, starving deer seem much worse off than shot ones.

It's true that I regard anyone who enjoys killing animals to have a poorly developed sensitivity to life. However, there are plenty of things to which I am apparently insensitive. Some would consider my hermit ways to be proof that an important part of my own humanity is underdeveloped. I haven't met too many perfect people.

To me the important point about hunters is this: At least they have come to terms with what killing an animal is all about. I regard this as a much more enlightened state than simply eating animals without thinking about the creature who was killed in order to provide the food eaten. I regard walking into a supermarket and buying ground-up animal flesh neatly packaged under cellophane and stickered with a price as profoundly more obscene than blowing out the brains of any animal in the woods or fields.

If I have a choice between being around a hunter or an average person who simply pays others to kill and prepare their animal-based meals without reflecting on what actually is going on, I generally prefer the hunter.

That being said, if I have the choice between being with a typical hunter and being alone -- I'll generally prefer the latter.