I used to hunt but I gave it up. I decided I just couldn't shoot poor Bambi, and the thought of blowing Thumper away is even more appalling. The furry and feathered creatures of the forest are safe from me and will remain so until I'm actually starving at which time I'll quickly revert to time-honored atavistic principles and happily shoot anything that moves and looks edible.
It wasn't always so. There was a time when I sallied forth and bought myself an enormous wide-barreled shotgun that fired shells that looked like medium-sized sticks of dynamite. The thing held five such shells, or roughly enough shot to decimate the animal population of the county and do in any bystanders loitering in the area.
I used this blunderbuss to hunt pheasants and ducks, mainly. I waited in ambush for the ducks in weather fit only for polar bears, as this is the only kind of weather ducks will be associated with. The object was to lure the unsuspecting quackers into range by setting out decoy ducks that closely resembled duck relatives and friends. When they got close enough I'd spring up and blaze away with both barrels and the poor ducks would drop straightaway into the lake.
Actually, I seldom ever hit one of them as the wily birds bobbed and weaved and refused to hold still long enough for me to draw a proper bead on them. On the other hand, I peppered my brother's decoys with enough lead shot to sink most of them in the mire of Lake St. Clair where they reside to this day.
Why was I shooting at the decoys? Because an especially devious duck slipped in among them and paddled around giving us the bird, that's why. We didn't see him at first until I noticed that one of the decoys was swimming instead of just floating. Of course, it isn't considered cricket to shoot swimming ducks, but we weren't playing cricket so we unloosed a barrage of birdshot that would have decimated a flight of pterodactyls.
We missed and I think I actually heard the sneaky bastard laugh as he paddled away unscathed.
I had better luck with pheasants, but not much better. Half the time I missed the bird and rattled pellets down on the farmer's house and barn. The farmer wasn't entertained by this, I might add, and would often ask me to leave. In fact, what he said was, "Get the hell off my land, you ....!"
I never went deer hunting because I knew from the start I'd never be able to shoot any animal with eyes like that; at least, not if he was looking at me. I might be able to wing one from the rear or maybe knock off a near-sighted one, but there's no way I could ever look one in the eye and shoot.
Besides, there's really no challenge to deer hunting. For one thing you use a high-powered rifle with a 'scope that makes your target look the size of a small barn, fire a bullet at 1,500 feet a second, and always shoot from ambush. You have to sneak around in the brush until you find one and try to shoot him before he knows you're in the neighborhood and scoots away. Not very sporting, is it?
Then there's the question of what do you do with 150 pounds of dead deer? You have so skin the thing and that's a nasty business. Only a trained butcher can do it right-or that Palin woman. Then you have to cart the carcass three miles through the woods to your car, lash it to the roof, and drive 300 miles home with environmentalists giving you the finger and PETA people stoning your car all the way.
Furthermore, there's the danger of getting lost in the woods, running into a bear, lion or python, shooting your own foot off, falling from a high cliff, or tripping out with some guru mystic on weird vegetables and forgetting to go home. Remember, there are no paramedics to call, no ER guys nearby, no handy stomach pumps. It's just you and your wits against wily, unpredictable Nature in a contest, alas, that may find you only half-equipped.
Another caveat. It may be tricky trying to explain the Vegas casino matches in your pocket to a wife who was expecting pine needles and loose shotgun shells.
So I quit hunting. I still have my shotgun, of course. It's a 12 gauge pump beauty with a modified choke and fixed bayonet. I use it for protection against interlopers and as a sign of machismo and unbridled masculinity. If you stop by some night around midnight I'd be happy to show you how it works.