Hunting season has started. Deer season to be exact. Rural Missouri is full of deer, and any place that’s full of deer is sure to be full of hunters chomping at the bit for the season to start. November 1 rolls around, the pop of guns fills the air in the mornings, and pictures of happy hunters kneeling down, holding up the head of a once-proud eight-point buck or a big-eyed doe, begin to litter Facebook.
All I can think of is Bambi.
I wish deer were uglier animals. It would be easier, wouldn’t it, if they looked more like, I don’t know, wild boar maybe? Or rats? Great big rats? That would be okay. I could totally get into that. But deer are so … beautiful. Graceful and elegant. And their eyes! How can anyone kill something with eyes like that? It would be like killing an otter. Have you ever seen otters’ eyes? Or a seal.
Except people kill those too, for the skins.
It’s not that I’m anti-hunting. It’s just that I’m not a hunter. I don’t like killing things. Well, maybe spiders. No, not even spiders. I don’t like killing spiders; I would just rather kill them than share my home with them or try to catch them and relocate them. Okay, I digress.
The hunters around here hunt don’t hunt just for sport. They hunt for food. They eat the venison. So it’s not like they’re just out randomly killing Bambi’s mom and laughing about it.
I am a carnivore, too. So I have to remind myself every time I eat dinner (almost every time anyway, excepting those rare vegetarian meals) that something gave its life so that mine could be sustained.
I don’t think about that often enough. That’s my point here. I don’t really think about it at all, except during hunting season, when I see the pictures of smiling hunters and Bambi’s mom staring at me from Facebook, and I wonder, did Mr. Hunter think to say a quick “thank you” to that beautiful, elegant, almost royal animal as he felled it, to take a minute to offer a word of gratitude that it gave its life so that his might be further sustained?
And I hang my head in shame, because it doesn’t matter that I get my meat all neatly butchered and cleaned and packaged. Somewhere, some beautiful animal (beautiful to God, if not to me) gave its life so that I could make my meals.
I’m not a back-to-nature, one-with-mother-earth, all-living-things-are-equal kind of person (I’m not knocking that philosophy, so if that’s you, please don’t be offended; I’m just saying, that’s not who I am). But I do respect life, and I do not have a casual attitude toward any life (okay, borderline with spiders).
So I think maybe in the future, when we say grace at my dinner table and thank God for His wonderful, extraordinary provision in our lives, we might just take a minute to also remember with gratitude the animals themselves, whose lives were sacrificed for our sustenance and enjoyment.