Hunters should respect the harvest
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Early in our marriage, before I had gray hair, my wife and I sat in a Cancun hotel plotting our four-day itinerary of activities.
Our choices were scuba diving, touring ancient Aztec ruins, riding through the mangroves in mini motor boats, offshore fishing or attending a Mexican bull fight.
The bull fight intrigued me, but it was quickly nixed by my wife's words, "I really do not want to pay to go watch a bull or matador die."
There was wisdom in her words.
I did get to watch a bull fight, not live at least, but I did watch one sitting on a bar stool waiting for a return flight to America.
This show had three men against one bull. One guy would come up close and distract the animal, while the other would pierce the neck of the bull with some type of hook with colored flags attached.
Immediately, blood would flow and change the color of the bull's hide to scarlet.
Then another hook would be applied, then another.
Five minutes later, the blood was flowing from the animal's mouth and nose, then two men left the arena and the matador went "one-on-one" with a profusely bleeding bull.
It did not take long before a long, silver sword was drawn and inserted between the shoulders of the piece of red meat. The animal staggered, dropped to two legs, then expired when blood no longer made it to its ruptured heart.
The matador raised his arms, the crowd cheered, and I almost regurgitated my Diet Coke.
It was one of the most disgusting feelings I have ever felt, next to a derelict hunter shooting my retriever two weeks ago, but that's another story to be told later.
The display of animal cruelty prompted me to ponder my own hunting practices.
Hunters are always under scrutiny from animal rights, anti-hunting groups and anti-gun groups.
Hunters are already the minority, however, unethical and unsafe hunting practices only strengthen the voice of the antis.
Their tone is strong, educating the masses of non-hunters that the safest way to deter crime and gun violence is to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.
Think about it, that's what really happens. Criminals will always find a way to break the law.
Nevertheless, our defense of a lifelong ethical hunting heritage and safe firearm practices are null if we do not work to change our image as "killers" and inhumane citizens.
You cannot explain to "tree huggers" that hunters' dollars are the sustaining force for wildlife habitat and survival.
Millions of acres of wetlands have been purchased over the past 50 years by conservation dollars, reviving waterfowl populations to record numbers.
The image of Elmer Fudd with his double-barreled shotgun, consistently chasing that rascally rabbit is the picture most non-hunters see when they hear the word "hunter."
And, why not?
Some of us act without brains by harvesting more than the daily bag limit, shooting out of season and at night and disrespecting the wildlife.
We as hunters show irresponsibility by mounting a deer or hog on the hood of the pickup or ATV and driving down major highways or interstates showing off the kill.
Those sharing the road with you, on their way back to the concrete jungle, see Bambi's father with his tongue hanging from a bloody mouth.
What does someone who has never been in the wild conclude?
Hunters are disrespectful thugs.
Think about it.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed hunting and fishing guide (firstname.lastname@example.org.