Humanist values and outdoor writers
Outdoor columnists are more in touch with nature than most of us are. They directly see the results of human overpopulation, pollution, environmental degradation and global warming. They recognize the importance of sustainability and living as part of nature.
The column below also illustrates the difference between a “cop” and a “peace officer.” I think our police officers should place more emphasis on keeping the peace, and less on writing tickets.
By Bill Barker
I was raised to believe the actions of individuals toward others — thus, their interactions with society in general — were what counted. If someone’s beliefs differed from mine, it was all right unless they tried to, forcefully, impose them on me.
Some of us view hunting as a historical continuation of our multidimensional role in the natural world as “hunter-gatherers.” Some don’t hunt but don’t view it as “evil” … just natural. A few believe taking any form of life is wrong. A minority of those would use any means to stop all hunting because of an inability to accept that other beliefs or opinions have any basis for their existence. This is the crux of most conflicts in our world.
Back to hunting.
I grew up on a livestock ranch. We needed all the income they generated to pay expenses. Our ranch supplied food for many deer. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on our diet, but survival necessities generate their own sets of private ethics.
However, we always followed rules during hunting seasons. Why then? If you cheat to win, at anything, how can you feel good or relate tales of your prowess? It all depends on your reasons for hunting. Properly handled, venison is hard to beat but for most, protein is a lot easier and cheaper to get at the local store.
So you’re out there to participate in the privilege and ancestral heritage of public hunting seasons. You’re there for the experience, the companionship of friends and family and the potential buck or elk. Breaking the rules would taint the results.
My hunting partners were behind me as we packed out my buck. Dusk and steepness made the rig seem far, the pack and rifle even heavier. Then, a huge buck stood up. It was much larger than any I’d ever tagged. My rifle came up. There was another tag we could fill. No one but us would ever know.
I lowered my rifle, watched him trot off and turned around. They were all grinning. Bruce said, “I didn’t think that buck would make it.” I replied, “For a minute, I didn’t either but it would have been a story I could have never told. Maybe next year he’ll be here.” It didn’t feel bad to let him go.
On Hosmer Lake, you can’t fish while the motor is running. Consumed by the urge to see my daughter have fun, I began casting while Dad’s boat motor still ran. I’d hook a fish, then hand the rod to Katy. After several catches and releases, we heard a motor approaching. It pulled up. “Hi. Do you mind if we check your license?”
The realization of what I’d been doing suddenly hit me. The officer noticed my expression. With a big grin , he said, “You know you really aren’t supposed to be fishing while the motor’s running, don’t you?” “Yup … I just flat out didn’t think about it,” I answered. “We noticed you always handed the rod to your daughter. It was obvious your intent was to get her interested in fishing. We like that, but you probably ought to start waiting ’til the motor stops. You folks have a good day, and hook some more for her.”
Because they judged my intent, and I was honest, personal ethics allowed those officers to apply the spirit of the law. Nice, but obeying the rules would have been far easier and less stressful. That’s an important lesson to teach children.
Bill Barker writes about the outdoors for the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He can be reached at email@example.com