Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hunter Safety

So, I have a question I asked myself tonight:

Why on earth am I taking a hunter safety class?

Good question, don't you think? I'm not a hunter. I'm not exactly excited about going hunting. I'm not sure I could look at a rabbit and say that I want to kill and eat it even though I frequently ate rabbit, pheasant, squirrel, venison, and quail as a kid. They tasted great. I'll tell you that much.

But there are lots of reasons why it doesn't seem all that obvious why I'm in this class. Most of the adults in the class are dads. I realize I've never been a normal mom, but that doesn't bother me. What bothers me, at least a little, is the idea of going out into the woods and shooting something to eat with a gun. I've just never done it. I can't quite picture myself doing it though I have no ethical problems with other people shooting their food. So why am I in this class?

The reason, the compelling reason is that Nick wants desperately to go hunting. I'm not that person to help him with this. I'm really not. I might cook it. I might go traipsing around in the woods with people who are hunting, but do I really want to go walking around in the woods with a gun? Do I want to aim it at something and shoot?

Not exactly. I like to eat rabbit, but killing one would make me cry. I know that makes me a hypocrite, but there are lots of ways I'm inconsistent.

So, bear with me. Nick wants to go hunting. So far, I've taken him shooting at a range. That's easy. We go and we shoot pieces of paper to shreds. It's not all that much to think about philosophically. Do you know what I mean?

But if my boy is even going with someone else to go hunting, I want to know the rules. I want to be able to talk with the adults that are taking him about their methods, about their safety standards. There's one guy, one of the dads in our Boy Scout troop, who is safety conscious enough for me to let Nick go with him. He's a good guy, and funny too, but he's never funny about gun safety. Nick could go with him. I'd be okay with that.

I also want to be assured that Nick is a guy who has the knowledge to be a good hunting partner. I guess I didn't have to actually take the class to figure that out. I could have just looked at the material online. It's good information. From that site, I can learn lots of safety, Washington state laws, and general information about hunting weapons. Then, I could use that to assess Nick's readiness.

I also want to take the class so that I learn more gun safety from people who know. Tonight, I did learn. These guys also talked about the ethics of being a hunter, what's fair to the animals, what's courteous to the general public. It's good for me. I can feel the difference in my knowledge already.

I also wanted to take this class because I know three people who were hurt or killed by guns. They are all grisly stories, complicated stories. Some day, I might tell you about Mark Harper, the boy who bullied me when I was a kid. Now, that is a long and confusing story to tell. Mark Harper is dead of a bullet to his gut.

No, I didn't do it. I was six when he died. That was the day my dad taught me how to shoot a gun.

There's another significant person for me who died in a hunting accident. Actually, we've been instructed to call them incidents because an accident is something that isn't anyone's fault and there is seldom a situation in which someone handles a gun and causes an injury and remains free from blame. There's nearly always a way they could have used better safety methods.

This fourth person, the significant person could also have used better safety methods. See, when my grandma was very young, she was engaged to be married. The day before her wedding, her intended went out hunting pheasant. He was killed when he leaned his gun up against a fence, climbed over it, the gun fell and discharged, and it hit him. See. Safety.

Back in those days, distant family couldn't be notified as easily, but eventually, they got word to his brother who immediately came back East from California, well, as immediately as he could come. It wasn't as easy to travel back then and my grandpa had to stop and get work a couple of times on the way to pay for the trip.

Yes, I said my grandpa. He returned home when he heard his brother had been killed and ended up marrying his brother's fiancee, my grandma. People did stuff like that back then.

So, you see, if it weren't for an incident with a gun, a fatality in fact, I wouldn't even exist. Now, that's a good reason to take a hunter safety course, don't you think?

Thank you for listening, jb

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