Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Being a non-elkaholic in an elkaholic world

When I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Elkaholic – bow hunting elk will be the hardest thing you'll ever love to do," I started to twitch.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against hunting all together.

For whatever reason, I have difficulty killing anything. I struggle taking down spider webs because I know that without them spiders would starve to death.

I cup my hands around a wayward moth and carefully escort it out the door.

I cringe whenever I swat a fly. So you can see why the notion of hunting really does get to me.

It’s bad enough knowing that there are actually “seasons” for hunting established by the DNR, let alone actually hearing and seeing hunters in action, such as the distant sound of buckshot and hunters wandering corn fields or crouched in their deer blinds.

I’ve heard both sides of the argument as to what to do with the overpopulation of deer. As you may have figured, I side with those who want to put out hay and corn.

Seeing that “elkaholic” bumper sticker put me on edge. I just can’t stand the thought of sharp carbon arrows or cast lead bullets striking through the heart or piercing the guts of unsuspecting animals as rare elk are.

Behold the elk, cervus elaphus, or wapiti, as native tribes call them. These majestic and husky members of the deer family once populated most of North America.

Now, a resurgence of small herds live in remote mountainous regions in the Western U.S., primarily Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota.

Some years ago, when my husband and I were visiting Banff, Alberta, Canada, elk roamed freely throughout the town.

Co-mingling with residents and tourists alike, they wondered about at will. Traffic halted while entire families trotted in single file across side streets, highways and byways.

The elk controversy in Banff – to love them or to kill them – was all over the news as the town wrestled with this divisive issue.

Wanting to understand why bow hunting elk is the “hardest thing you’ll ever love,” I mustered up enough courage to actually watch an elk hunting video on the web.

In the video, a brawny bull elk peacefully grazes with his herd in a wide-open pasture. Singled out by the hunter-narrator because of his mighty rack and with no cover to hide the hunter scopes and kills him.

As I watched the herd scatter and the tall brawny wapiti go down, I wondered how the hunter was going to sleep that night. Probably very well.

I know we won’t always see eye-to-eye on this subject. After all, this is the land of the free where opinions are not legislated.

This also gives me the freedom to create my own bumper sticker that reads, “non-elkaholic – killing elk is the hardest thing you’ll never want to do.”

2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon
is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won
first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and
Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota
Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place awards
statewide. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, follow her blog at
www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.comand find her on Facebook.

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