I have a lifelong passion for hunting and shooting. From my early childhood I remember my father and my uncle John going hunting in the Fall seasons. My dad really enjoyed hunting cottontail rabbits and European hares, commonly called Jack rabbits, outside Kingston in the mid-1960s. I yearned for the day when I would be old enough to join them. As I grew older and entered my formative years, I remember poring over the hunting magazines, such as Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, my father amassed over the years. I combed these magazines for articles on upland bird hunting and waterfowling, mostly. I was eager to learn all I could about these pastimes so I could apply this knowledge when I came of age. I got my first hunting license at 15 and never looked back. When I entered my 20s I took up collecting books on guns, hunting, gun dog training and wildlife conservation. Currently, I have a growing collection of books that detail the North American hunting and shooting culture of the 19th and 20th centuries that guided me in my development as a hunter. I take great pride in my heritage as a gun owner and hunter. I keep these books, hoping they will help preserve a record of my gun and hunting heritage for posterity. In fact, I often point to this heritage in standing up for the rights of gun owners and hunters when gun ownership and hunting come under attack from critics who denounce these activities as archaic, old fashioned and out of step with the times.
The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter has fanned the flames of the controversy surrounding sport hunting. A familiar claim made by people opposed to sport hunting is that sport hunters “like killing things,” that is to say they enjoy killing for the sake of killing. This claim typically leaves me at a loss for words as it is so egregiously wrong. Yes, I enjoy hunting, but no, as hard as it is for you to believe, I do not like killing things. While most of my hunting expeditions are in pursuit of game birds I enjoy big game hunting too. To date my big game hunting experience is in the pursuit of the whitetail deer. My introduction to the sport of whitetail deer hunting was by Jason, one of my hunting buddies and a seasoned deer hunter, in 2011. It was not until my second season in November 2012 that I shot my first whitetail deer. It was a happy and exciting moment for me; the successful conclusion of the hunt with a whitetail deer harvested and secure in the knowledge it was a fair chase as the deer we hunt are wild, not the least bit habituated to humans. Continue reading
“Funny, you don’t look it” is a common response when people learn I am a hunter. Aside from the fact I am gay, I am a gentle and thinking man and people find it hard to believe that I can make the choice to hunt down and kill a game bird or animal. Yes, hunting, unlike my gayness, is an ethical choice I make. It is an ethical choice I keep to myself a great deal of the time as I find I have more venom spat at me for choosing hunting, than for being gay. I chose to conceal the truth of my gayness and my relationship with Mika from most of my hunting buddies (all of whom are heterosexual men and women from a plurality of ethnic and religious backgrounds and generally conservative) until recently, fearing I might lose them as friends and hunting buddies if they knew the truth or at the very least they would be uncomfortable knowing. Turns out they were not bothered in the least and are happy for me, that I am in a long term relationship with Mika. We remain friends and hunting buddies, taking to the field in pursuit of game, enjoying our sport. Everyone who takes up hunting has their own reasons for doing so, but as for me, I have had a lifelong passion for hunting, the outdoors and wildlife. Continue reading