Hmmmm…A Sportsman Vice President

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)

Author and Son

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.

  • Claudia

    Even though both my father and my husband hunted, I truly didn’t understand the power of hunting and fishing until our son(s) showed interest and began going with their dad and grandpa’s. To see them enthusiastically up before the sun is a phenomenon. They always come home to share tales from the world’s biggest classroom and I love to listen. The stories are some of our family’s best memories ever. Also, a few years ago, when I was diagnosed with cancer, Mother Nature lent a hand in a new way and ministered to the heart of our teenage son. Not only did he throw himself in to fishing, but he also took his 5 yr old brother with him (a HUGE help to me at the time…). The two bonded in many of the same ways I saw him bond with his dad and grandpa’s. It was therapeutic for them and also helped our older son discover he had a passion and gift for teaching younger children. At the time, he was a high school athlete and honors student. He recruited a friend who was the same and the two did an amazing job coaching multiple seasons of youth basketball and flag football for his younger bother (and now we see others doing the same so maybe he started a trend…). This past summer our older son (now a collegiate bass fisherman, on the Dean’s list in college, and working his 2nd summer as a research intern at Vanderbilt) took his younger brother to fish his first ever official bass tournament! But, one of my favorite moments ever came last year when our younger son (now 10) borrowed my cell phone for his first time alone in a tree stand (it’s dark and scary alone in the woods before sunrise and I loved that he could text his dad and brother). He came back and handed me the phone and said “here mom, I changed your screensaver”. He had taken a picture of the sunrise coming up over our house from his tree stand. We already had pictures of the sun setting from the vantage point of the house, over a pond and beautiful rolling hills. I was thrilled to have the reverse angle! Knowing how much I loved both pictures, the boys made me a purse for Christmas with each picture on one side. The purse now reminds me that what we see depends on where we are. The two views are completely different and you would never know they were of the same thing. I am also reminded that sunrise is just as beautiful as sunset! These are some of the lessons I found in nature courtesy of some very special sportsmen.


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