I began to ask myself, could I kill an elk, which I had grown to love so much, and had brought me so many things?
It felt close to the likes of murdering a good friend.
Would I be able to look deep into my sight, and squeeze the trigger of my rifle on a helpless animal that’s only defense against me was simply running for its life? Could I spill blood, and take life, even, should I? Was it moral to kill? Christlike? What Would Jesus Do? Oh gosh, did I really say that?
But it was a good question. Would Jesus chamber a Remington bullet, dressed in 3-D seclusion camo, and creep around the ground, and kill? It had all been fun and games, and very nostalgic, and romantic up to this point. But these were some serious questions.
My dad was not a hunter. He shared a story that while he was a boy he watched his father out hunting, and remembers one moment in particular seeing him mercilessly kill a raccoon in the tree at their house. He was a young boy, and watching what appeared as a pet get shot down, did plenty of harm to his soul and for good reason.
He decided that for him, hunting was not an option. And as I began to enter into this scenario, I began to see those scenarios too.
It would hit me in moments. I would sit outside my house that backed up to a bluff called Ute Valley park where I had made a little shed for reading and praying. A doe or buck mule deer would stroll by with its family of little bambis, gazingly slowly by, and looking at me in the shed, almost peering into the glass to say hello, so kind and gently. I would pretend to raise a rifle, and pull a trigger, and the feeling was close to a mobster going on a killing spree with his tommy gun at a spaghetti joint. It felt so cold and dark. How could I kill Bambi?
I would watch rabbits munching on grass as well. I starred at them, and seeing them like I would a family at the mall, enjoying themselves and out for a day of pleasure and fun. It brought such odd and mixed feelings. I so deeply wanted to hunt, and yet how could I kill these furry innocent things?
This was going to be a big decision. Going against the family beliefs. It appeared, to hunt was to turn my back on my father’s opinions, and some of my own, and join the company of men as Al Capone, Jimmy Hoffa, Jeffrey Damer, and Charles Manson. Killers. And yes, there killing was with humans, and mine being an animal, but it was pre-meditated, and it was a life, and a bullet that I had aimed to take it with.
It brought up many more questions. Especially the really spiritual ones.
As a Christian, I knew that God’s order was about life. Jesus words, “I came that you might have life.” The gospel was about resurrection, being raised from death to life. Eternal life. Restoring life. Healing life. It seemed hunting was moving in the clear opposite direction of that. From peace and unity to lawlessness and murder. Death and destruction. From Ghandi and Martin Luther King back to Rambo.
As I drew closer, and kept going on hunts, and watching things get shot, I knew it was just a matter of time before that moment was going to be at hand for me. You didn’t just go to watch, eventually that trigger of death would be with my finger on it. The beautiful scenery and landscapes, and comraderie amongst men, and God in still silent meadows that had been so surreal, would all change with the thunder crack of a rifle, and a bullet through the heart, and my hand on a knife digging into fur and hide, and straight through into red fleshy meat with my hands covered in blood.
It seemed a gruesome sight. And it was sobering. This was not paintball, or video games where things were safe, and there was always the reset button. These actions were permanent. And I could not take back what I had done, once I had taken the shot.