In three months we might have a sportsman for our vice president, and that thought thrills me.
But I’m aware that it confuses many. Those who don’t hunt and fish tend to struggle with those who do. A man asked me two weeks ago, “Doesn’t it bother you that your favorite sports involve taking lives?”
That’s a fair question, and because a sportsman has now been thrust into the political spotlight, I’d like to present a few thoughts about this odd activity that many of us enjoy.
Sportsmen and women help our country thrive financially. According to a report conducted in 2011, “Outdoor Recreation, Nature Conservation and Historic Preservation” contribute and/or generate more than $1 trillion dollars in economic activity and support over 9 million jobs each year. Hunters and fisherman contribute approximately $300 million dollars a year to conservation—this includes the care and restoration of American’s wetlands, forests, and natural resources. All Americans benefit by the contribution of sportsmen and women, and those who hunt and fish enjoy the chance to contribute to society in these ways.
Hunting and fishing are some of the most honorable ways to provide meat for our families and other families in need. I’m a big fan of buying meat in grocery stores, but being a sportsman allows me the opportunity to put more thought, effort, and sense of responsibility into acquiring table fare for my family. (Healthy, tasty table fare, I might add!) Many who hunt and fish engage their consciences, not just their pocketbooks, and we’re proud of this fact.
I realize that this next statement is a matter of opinion, but I believe that there’s nothing unethical, barbaric, or inhumane about taking an animal’s life when sportsmen or women carry a sense of respect and humility about what they’re doing. When we value the animals we hunt and fish, and carry out our sport in ethical and responsible ways, we display a profound appreciation for the creatures we pursue.
I appreciate how Mike Gaddis describes the sobriety and respect experienced by those who hunt and fish:
“We [humans] stand alone, though, in our ability to contemplate the loss of life, to understand its finality, to comprehend what’s forever gone. Out of respect and self-respect, those of us who hunt must apply this greater wisdom on behalf of the wild things we pursue. This is the responsibility decency calls us to acknowledge and practice rather than push aside. For it is inescapable. The life we will take is not all that different from our own.” (“Taking A Life” in the book A Hunter’s Heart: Essays on Blood Sport)
I realize that not all hunters and fisherman fit these descriptions or view our sport in these ways. Some give our sports a bad name, and this saddens me. But most of the men and women I know who hunt and fish are contemplative, thoughtful, and committed to the conservation of natural resources. They are well grounded and hold realistic views on issues such as the cost of sustaining our families, how to conserve our natural resources, and the value of the lives that are given up so that ours can survive. And they respect those who choose not to hunt and fish.
I assume these things are true of Congressman Paul Ryan, and for these reason (and more important ones) I’m excited about Romney’s choice today.
Visit this link to pick up a copy of Zeke’s book, Man on the Run: Helping Hyper-Hobbied Men Recognize The Best Things In Life.