bengarrett

With the opening of this year’s deer hunting seasons — muzzleloader season opened Saturday and will remain open until gun season kicks in on Nov. 23 — comes the time of year for hunters to think twice about the way they’re perceived by others.

It isn’t too uncommon this time of year to see successful hunters walking into Walmart with blood on their pants, or driving up the “Four-Lane” with dead deer on display on their vehicle. And while those of us who hunt think little of things like that, those scenes can be offensive to others.

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I know what you’re thinking — United States of the Offended. Everyone is looking for something to be offended about. Why should hunters go out of their way to avoid offending those who don’t like hunting?

And I get that.

But the ones we need to be concerned with aren’t those who don’t like hunting, but the “fence-sitters” who neither support hunting nor oppose it.

Consider this: a mother driving her children along the highway, and their vehicle driving up on a vehicle with a dead whitetail buck, its gutted carcass on full display in all its gory glory.

Some mothers would rather not have to launch an explanation of such things to inquisitive children who aren’t old enough to understand, and it’s hard to blame them.

Across the nation, there is a hunting debate taking place. It’s been going on for quite some time, actually. On one end of the spectrum are hunters who are convinced that harvesting wildlife for food or trophies is well and good. On the other are anti-hunters who vehemently argue that such practices are not only dated but unethical and immoral.

Those two sides of the debate envelop a minority of Americans. In the middle, making up a decided majority, is the group most important to hunters and anti-hunters alike: people who don’t hunt, who have no desire to hunt, but who don’t necessarily have any qualms with hunters or hunting.

Those “fence-sitters” are the ones hunters should try to avoid offending. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to knock someone off the fence, even if our actions aren’t intended to offend.

Harvesting a deer is the culmination of hours of preparation, hours of work, and, usually, a not insignificant amount of money invested into the hunt. Hunters are rightfully proud and want to brag a little. There’s nothing wrong with that. But a little extra effort will ensure that bragging is done tastefully — especially in this day and age of social media, like Facebook, where the easiest way to reach all of our hunting buddies quickly is to post a picture for all to see.

Taking the photo from an angle that doesn’t show the deer’s sliced-open stomach from field dressing, for example, or making sure that the deer’s tongue isn’t hanging out of its mouth in the photo, or taking time to wash the blood from the carcass are all ideas that hunting pros suggest.

And while it isn’t always possible to transport a harvested deer out of sight — for example, my “hunting vehicle” is a Jeep Wrangler and I have no way to haul a deer from the woods except on the spare tire — it might not be a bad idea to use special consideration here, too, when possible.

Just because someone is okay with hunters harvesting wildlife doesn’t mean they aren’t repulsed by the sight of the carcasses. And that isn’t a bad thing.

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