Musings and Threads. Killing.
When I first returned to the Eastern Shore of Maryland I was delighted to see rows and rows of sunflowers planted amidst the usual crops of corn, wheat, milo, sorghum, barley or rye. Rows of bright, happy, yellow sunflowers with large brown heads full of seeds, all pointing in the same direction, followed by rows of tall bright green corn stalks. But these happy flowers had a dark purpose, they were not planted for harvesting they were planted for killing.
Hunting is a popular “sport” on the Eastern Shore, so popular that it attracts hunters from many states to participate in the killing of geese, ducks, deer, wild turkeys, pheasant, quail and doves. The sunflowers attract mostly doves and quail, the corn attracts deer, ducks, wild turkeys and geese. While it is illegal to “bait” an area, it is perfectly legal to plant “crops” for foraging. The corn is “harvested” with large square areas left uncut, to serve as natural blinds.
As an animal lover, I shudder at the sport of hunting. Even more egregious, I have seen pickups sporting bumper stickers callously delighting in the number of animals they had killed.
But, while I love animals, I also eat meat. I was a vegetarian for almost 25 years until I became ill from a severe protein deprivation. I have since learned that over ½ of us cannot process the protein from milk products, despite being lactose tolerant, and that the protein from many grains is not processed efficiently. So, while I carefully combined proteins and kept a record of how much protein I ate, my body was not processing most of that protein and it took me two years of a carnivorous diet to recover. Eventually, I had to come to terms with my love of animals and my body’s need for meat. I developed a set of quixotic principles, no animals that I liked (cows in particular), no babies (veal or lamb), and as little of the rest as I could get away with. Today, our meat choices have improved and I am now able to purchase meat, eggs and milk that are humanely grown (even for my dogs!). So, while I am not happy about it, this an uneasy compromise.
Which brings me back to hunting. In principle, hunting is humane. The culling allows the surviving animals to have plenty of food to survive the winter. Eating your quarry is more humane than eating animals that have been raised in inhumane farming conditions (as most animals are). Hunting keeps the deer from feeding on our landscape as they do in NJ. So in good conscience, despite my dislike of guns or killing, I cannot condemn hunting.
I discussed this with a friend whose husband is an avid hunter. In his most recent hunting trip, he killed over 500 birds in South America. The meat from the birds was used for dog food or other meat byproducts. When I explained my philosophy, she commented. “That sounds nice, but my husband really just likes the sport of killing animals.”
And then there’s that.