Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., hunting wasn’t part of my world. I didn’t know anyone who hunted. (At least, I didn’t think I knew anyone who hunted.)
But I knew a little about hunters. For starters: Elmer Fudd (Duck Season! Rabbit Season!) was a hunter. I knew that. Then there was Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the U.S. and an avid hunter and conservationist. And on the occasional family drive out to the country, I might see a “redneck” – identified by my suburban eyes by the gun rack on the back window of his pickup truck.
That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of hunters. I expect there are many people today who know about the same amount. Their knowledge of hunters comes from watching episodes of Duck Dynasty and reading the latest viral story of a legal but highly controversial lion hunt.
To those folks and to you, let me introduce you to the hunter.
She is 43 years old, a single mother of two young wonderful children, divorced after 17 years of marriage. She works when called upon as a substitute teacher. She pays her own health insurance. She lives next door to her loving, supportive parents and she cleans their house every week when her work schedule allows. She is a Girl Scout leader and a Cub Scout volunteer. She takes her children to church on Sundays. She goes to confession. She loves to read and doesn’t like to watch television unless a football game is on. She is willing to help others in times of need. She is a good listener and a good person.
He is also 43 years old, a single dad raising three teens on his own. He worries about his children’s futures. He loves his mom and visits her when he can. He talks to her several times a week just to check in. He misses his father. He is generous to a fault and will actually give you the shirt off his back if you need it.
He is 94 years old, married to his wife for over 70 years. He started hunting with his dad during the Depression, when food was scarce but squirrels were not.
She is a teenager trying to find her place in the world. She studies hard and is on the high school soccer team. She wants to fit in and she worries a lot.
He is an ex-vegan who is concerned about how he nourishes his body. He tends a garden. He knows his land intimately because he has walked every inch of it over the years.
She is a disabled vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by an unspoken event she witnessed while serving in Afghanistan. She works at a local restaurant and dreams of meeting Mr. Right.
He is a 30 year-old insurance salesman in a small town. He was captain of the football team in high school. He helps out at the community center, gathering canned and boxed foods during the holiday season that he will distribute to families in need, some of them folks he knew since childhood.
He is an avid outdoorsman, writer, and television host. He’s trapped small game for fur and he has hunted big game for meat. He is married and has a couple of little ones at home.
She is a quiet, non-descript woman who advocates for the well-being of women and children. She is proud of the work she does because she knows she is making a difference. She also volunteers at the local Humane Society and helps place abandoned animals in loving homes.
These are the faces of the hunter. We come in many sizes and shapes. We live in big cities and come from small towns. We dropped out of high school to help with the family farm and we hold Doctorate degrees from prestigious universities. We have traveled the world. We like to come back home.
We are people with families, hopes, pains, accomplishments, and the trash to take out on Tuesday mornings.
It is nice to meet you.