Reflections on Hunting (or Cold-Blooded Murder)
by Rebecca Sheppard, Johnson City, NY (3rd Prize in Editorial Contest)
I sometimes envision myself at a support group meeting for relatives and friends of deer hunters. The early evening meeting takes place in one of those old hotel conference rooms, complete with stains on the carpet and the smell of stale coffee in the air. Nervous chit chat bounces of the walls while about twenty people eye up the seating arrangements, like circling hawks. When the clock strikes 7:00, everyone finds an uncomfortable vintage banquet chair to sit on, and we all begin to prepare our introduction speeches in our heads. When it is my turn, I make my way to the wooden podium to introduce myself.
I clear my throat, take a deep breath and begin, "Hi, I'm Rebecca Sheppard and yes, my parents too are cold blooded murderers." Of course I hear some moans and groans but I continue on nonetheless. "They are part of the 5% of the population who hunt in the United States. My mother claims to be enlightened. She hunts deer because she believes she is helping to manage the deer population, which is odd considering predators are killed off so that a large deer population can exist for hunting. Maybe if she actually killed the weak, sick, or wounded deer, she would in some way be "helping" manage the deer population. Instead, she too wants a shot at the prize buck, and only the prize buck."
I pause for a minute and focus on a thirty-ish balding man with tiny glasses in the front row that looks a bit disturbed as he squirms in his chair. He meets my gaze but says nothing. I turn my eyes elsewhere and begin again. "My father thinks deer hunting is a sport. This being the only "sport" he "plays." After all he is virtually guaranteed to be a winner. All he needs for equipment is a bright orange snowmobile suit and a rifle. His prize, for a game well played, is the carcass of a defenseless deer. I can just hear him as he slits open the big buck's stomach, "but Rebecca the deer would have starved if I would not have shot it." He seems to forget that deer have adapted through the years to the chronic food shortages and those that do starve are usually once again the weak, sick, or wounded, not the strong, thriving bucks that hunters, like my father and mother so crave. Game over."
Well, that does it. Mr. Little Glasses shoots his hand up towards the ceiling. I want to ignore him but he is wiggling all around so spastically I cannot help but to call on him. He doesn't stand up, he just straightens up a bit and says, "I am appalled how at the beginning of your speech you called your parents murderers." I hear a few people mutter that they agree. "That seems to me to be totally inappropriate language," he adds.
I smile a bit and answer slowly so my message is clear. "Well, my parents sharpen their knives, so the blade will glide easily through the stomach flesh of the deer, they clean and service their guns immaculately, they store rounds of ammunition, they purchase doe urine to wear as perfume in order to lure bucks, now if that is not premeditated killing, the definition of murder, I don't know what is." The man slowly nods in agreement.
Suddenly a small middle aged woman jumps to her feet and yells, "4 to 6 million deer are murdered each year!" Everyone gasped. Another woman stands and says, "Not to mention the thousands upon thousands that are wounded!" The group starts to get a bit rowdy and it is then that I see a somewhat familiar face in the crowd. Who is that? I squirt and lean forward trying to get a better look. Then it dawns on me. It is Ellen DeGeneres. After a few more outbursts from various people she chooses to stand and repeat something I remember her saying on a different occasion (On Location! Women of the Night), "You ask people why they have deer heads on their wall. They always say, Because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother's attractive, but I have photographs of her."
After she finishes there is a round of applause and I then clasp my hand together and say, "Until next time this meeting is adjourned. Please take as many free deer whistles for your vehicles as you need when you leave. Thank you."
Copyright © 2002 Rebecca Sheppard