I went through something similar about 25 years ago. At that time I was strictly a gun hunter. It was just to easy and didn't feel right to me. One day I just decided to sell my rifles and regroup and that is what I did. That is when I picked up a bow and I have had a whole new out look ever since. All my friends thought I had lost my mind. I cant tell you how many times since then I have had a animal at range and have been drawn back ready for the shot but never took it. Times change as we get older and there have been years that I have not filled a tag because something just doesn't feel right or the conditions were not right at the time. Now days I don't leave without my video camera and spend more time filming than getting ready for the shot. The truly amazing thing about all this is that the animals I have taken over the past 10 years have been the best I have ever taken.
MacDonald, Thanks for posting this... Im only in my early 30's and grew up hunting, its intensly the passion of my life, but the older i get I find myself releasing all the fish i catch and seems like after every season the last few years i never fill a tag. I like what SSlinger said, if you are a hunter you will always have sympathy for the animals you kill. I guess I just need to work extremely hard walking hills and mountains to feel good aobut killing an animal. Dont worry, you are not the only one going through this...
Thanks to everyone! I don't feel out of place with this after reading what you all have to say. I'll continue to hunt with these thoughts held close, and as we all know, "hunting" is different from "killing". When the freezer gets low, I might consider releasing an arrow, but that time is not now. There's an old German saying, "it is the duty, honor and privilege of the hunter to care for the creatures of the forest". Given the hunting shows on tv now, the poachers, and the push for "more extreme", it's hard to see that attitude coming through. Gene Wensel had a great article in this issue of Professional Bowhunters Society around this subject; "When Hunting Became Shooting". If the rain stops today ( I do live in Washington, after all), I think I'll grab the Toelke, and wander out into the woods, just to see if the bear really did go over the mountain!
I have always felt remorse when I kill a big game animal, but am often dissapointed if I work hard at it and come up empty handed too. I am still evolving as a hunter, even after 30 years of big game hunting and a lifetime of killing small animals. I don't want to call myself a trophy hunter, but I have leaned toward only targeting more mature animals these days. I used to be the guy who had to fill his tag every year, not anymore. I hunt twice as hard as I did 10 years ago, and kill alot less. When it all comes together and I do kill, it's bitter sweet. The kill is not the reward, it's the hunt, but a successful one is usually alot better than a non successful one for me. I believe every true hunter feels remorse, if you don't thats when you need to start to wonder why your hunting.
I am a "kill to hunt-hunt to kill" guy, I hunt a hell of alot more than I kill. If killing was easy, I would't enjoy hunting very much at all.
I think if you don't have any feelings after taking an animals life there is something wrong with you or you don't have near enough respect for the animal. Even just thinking about some of the elements they have to make it through to live makes me respect the hell out of them.
A lot of people seem to have this issue as they get older but I am only 25 and I already have it. It wasn't an issue with me until I started bowhunting. Many of the animals I have shot with a rifle dropped right in their tracks and I was unphased. Its a lot tougher when you are up close and personal with the animal while bowhunting and after you send an arrow through its lungs you have to watch it do the sideways steps/stumble in the last moment of its life.
Fred Bear always had a moment of silence in honor of the animals he killed, just like in this picture.
Originally Posted by ssliger
You spelled out alomst exactly how I have felt for about the last 15 yrs. I don't get upset if I drive out of state and come home empty handed anymore, even if I passed on some small ones. I have shot doe deer and lopes but I have never felt good about it. You all know the exccitement leading up to pulling the trigger. But but for years now I always feel sad when I walk up the the animal. I have to tell myself what it was all for and God put them on this earth for us to eat (hunt too). I always thank God for the animal also. In Az. 2006 I hit a cow with an arrow from a tree stand at about 5 yds.in the spine. It dropped instantly but laid there on it's side with lags going like she was running. I waited about 10 seconds but couldn't take it suffering anymore (if it was) so I shot another into it's chest. It still was going after about 20 seconds so I shot another arrow into her. She expired then. I was mad at myself with tears flowing. The other 5 cow elk and 1 bull I have shot with bow there ran of a short distance and died. Most my shots with rifle they drop right there with no suffering. Archery is a lot different I beleive that's why some people view it inhumane. It's not I know. Most animals don't feel pain like us and with their adrenalin flowing probably don't feel it before they are dead.
So MacDonald you aren't alone. I'm sure 90% of the people on the furom feel the same way. It's normal. If you didn't , you would be just an animal killer.
I simply look at it as I like to know where my food comes from and respect the animal to make the most humanely kill. In our family, we all hunt & eat wild game while thoroughly enjoy the health benefits from it. Last year we harvested a moose, an elk, and a deer. Our freezer is now getting low. With 3 daughters and their families, we share the meat that we process ourselves. At least we know how the animal was cared for after the harvest. This year we have 2 moose tags, 2 elk tags and 2 antelope tags. For those that go to the grocery store and buy their meat, an animal is killed by someone else. By harvesting ourselves, I have sometimes felt remorse for that but look beyond of how that meat will feed us throughout the year. I was looking to raise a beef cow on our land this year, but with our success in the draw, I shouldn't need to. In addition to the meat, we hunt together as a family and enjoy those times, plus the added benefit of exercise climbing those hills and enjoying the outdoors. We're not after the trophies as it is spending time together (although if a 6x6 elk comes our way, well all the better!). Certainly can understand the remorse in earlier post, I just rationalize it in a different way.
I have a hard time balancing the thrill of the hunt with the satisfaction of a successful hunt. As everyone has touched on, our idea of successful hunt changes. I seem to get more of a thrill from helping other people. I assume that is just part of maturing as a hunter. With a big buck in front of me last year, I just took up position on the scope and told my brother the first one was his. Not the "killer" attitude that we sometimes get tagged with.
As many know from following my posts, this is the first year I will be hunting out of state. The idea of taking 2 bulls and 2 bucks is a weird idea. It has brought up some of these same questions in my mind. Do I "need" to take that many animals?
I have chased the same herd bull for 3 years now, and will likely never get to hunt him again because of the Oregon point system. I can assure you that I would be a balling idiot in the middle of the forest if I would have gotten him last year. For me it would be the rush of success, but also the sadness that i dont get to listen to him anymore and watch him push his herd around. I think if you are not that emotional about it, you may be in the wrong sport.
Every time I think the thoughts in my head are a little off, a thread like this helps me realize I am either normal or most of you people are a little off too.
I agree with many of these posts. Alot of it for me these days is degree of dificultity and if taking the animal is exciting to me. When I first started hunting deer at 12 in CA I killed any legal buck I could. As I got older that was not exciting to me anymore and I started letting alot of bucks go and looking for ones that got me excited and trying to outsmart them . I have never felt bad about making a good stalk and taking a mature animal. I decided a few years ago if it doesnt excite me Im not going to do it. I have gone home empty many times when I could of killed a small young buck on the last day but it was just to easy and not exciting to me at all and honestly I would of felt bad about killing them. Quite a few years ago I was muzzle loader hunting in Utah. I snuck over a ridge and there were some deer in a pocket on the other side. 1 buck had his head up in a tree branch and I couldnt really see his horns but I really thought he had pretty heavy horns coming out of his head (looking back I think there was a small branch by his horn that made it look heavy). Well I got excited and shot him. When I found him about 50 yards from where I shot him he was only a smaller forked horn and I have never been more disgusted with myself in my life.
Everybody hunts for different reasons. People hunt different things, and species as well.
There's no one perfect answer as to why you feel the way you do as you are a distinct individual.
Feel however you want to feel, and hunt however you want to hunt....it's YOUR life. Just live it....