O My! Oprah Mag Covers Hunting

Sometimes we sportsmen are surprised when the subject of hunting and why we kill wildlife turns up outside the bounds of hook-and-bullet Web sites, kill-and-grill TV shows and dead-critter magazines.

We shouldn’t be, but some among our tribe have a more myopic vision of the world, overlooking the vast center between prohunting and antihunting sides.

There does appear to be genuine interest in the middle, judging by recent articles from big-name titles.

O, for starters.

The magazine you see in the grocery-store checkout line featuring a new look every issue for Oprah Winfrey recently posted a seasonally themed piece entitled “A Humbling Harvest: Could You Hunt Your Own Holiday Turkey?”

Self-described “sucker-hearted animal lover” Kimberly Hiss describes her transformation from eating sandwiches made with meat from turkeys killed god knows where and how to harvesting her own bird with a Benelli.

True, Hiss experiences conflicted emotions before and after she gets a shot off on that snowy Nebraska morning, but the hunt proves successful and the bird pops out of the oven “perfect” for Christmas dinner.

It’s a good read and puts our heritage in front of an audience we might not otherwise reach in a positive, constructive way.

Seattle-area writer Bruce Barcott does the same in “Killer Hike” which appeared late last summer in Backpacker magazine.

Its subtitle asks “When a lifelong backpacker decides to shoot a deer, will he lose touch with the wilderness he loves–or get closer to it?”

The answer, emphatically, is the latter.

“Troubled” by a “world too cleanly divided” between “red states or blue states, urban or rural, creamy or crunchy … Patagonia R2 fleece or Mossy Oak Break-Up camouflage … Cabela’s or REI,” he finds that the experience of hunting enriches his understanding of nature.

After three days of hunting in Southeast Washington’s Palouse and Snake and Grande Ronde River Breaks — killing his buck on the first day and helping a friend try and notch his tag the next two days — he begins to see through “a fresh pair of eyes.”

“Landscapes that were once barren to me become lush and vibrant, alive with life, crackling with possibility. Where once I saw lowland scrub—white noise for a backpacker—now I see a living habitat where rosehip bushes function as secret deer beds. Blank hillsides aren’t blank at all; they’re terraced with game trails. I see water and imagine the animals it might draw. I start to think like a predator. To be perfectly frank, hiking as a hunter is fun.”

True that last statement — and vise versa.

The dozen or so comments from readers are almost entirely positive towards Barcott and his article.

And finally, three Novembers ago National Geographic did a big article on hunting that worried “Strong supporters of land and wildlife conservation, hunters in the U.S. are in decline. Will a new generation take the field?”

I certainly hope so, and I think that articles like these really bolster our cause, and possibly our numbers .

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