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Excessive Celebration Has No Place in Hunting

October 30, 2013
Excessive Celebration Has No Place in Hunting - 22

I get my television the old-fashioned way: by sucking the signal right out of the sky. No cable. No dish. Just free-flowing megahertz available to anyone with a primitive receiver and time to kill.
 
My limited reception means that I don’t get to see many of the highest-rated programs on The History Channel, or the latest satellite view on The Weather Channel, or any of the hunting and fishing coverage offered on the various networks devoted to televising our outdoor lives.
 
That’s probably okay. My wife calls outdoor programming generically “The Whisper Channel” because nearly every hunting program features the hushed voices of pasty white men dressed in camouflage, communicating the movements of various antlered animals with stage whispers and exaggerated body language.
 
One constant of these programs is the celebratory high-five hand slap when an animal is killed. In the field, I tend to shirk these high-profile congratulations, partly because such hi-jinx seems to disrespect the animal that just died, and it seems especially unseemly when the celebration exists mainly to justify the expense of high-definition cameras, marketing strategies, and the empty calories of celebrity.
 
In fact, I’m so repulsed by the self-congratulation at the end of a successful hunt that I’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum, ducking a hunting partner’s hand or dodging a high-five hand slap after I’ve made a killing shot. For me, hunting is an intensely personal affair, and I hardly feel jubilant after killing an animal. I feel rather a conflicted mixture of satisfaction and regret.
 
So I find it odd that the last couple of times I’ve killed an animal with a close friend at my side, we have come close to a sort of hug and handshake upon the successful completion of the hunt. We have raised our hands to meet in a shake or a slap, and then slowly and self-consciously lowered our grips and turned away from each other.
 
It’s natural, I think, to share such a jubilant moment after successfully completing a difficult stalk, or making a long or tough shot. Hunting can be hard, and the hug or high-five is one small way of recognizing the difficulty, and the achievement. But instead of congratulating my partner, I thank the victim, the animal that died to feed both my family and my puny ego.

 

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from RandyMI wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

A handshake or clap on the shoulder is fine.Those celebratory displays are obnoxious---I just skip those programs anymore. I also find the competative programs obscene. Used to enjoy the Drury boys productions but when they went into the team competitions they got turned off, too. I'd rather watch Pawn Stars or the Pickers than that crap....

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from LeadHead wrote 37 weeks 6 days ago

I had no idea that so many of my fellow hunters are nothing more than cold, calculated killers who have no passion for the sport of hunting. Do you have no emotion when you finally bag a nice buck after the suspense of many weeks of hope, preparation, and then all the hours spent freezing your rear-end off while maybe seeing NOTHING several hunts in a row? Do you no longer get that adrenaline rush when you see that animal working its way toward you and you know that if you blink your eyes at the wrong time they'll bust you? Is it no longer a thrilling moment when you realize that you somehow just managed to trick a smart old deer (buck or doe) who has far superior hearing, eyesight and sense of smell and sent an arrow through their lungs at 10 yards, a distance at which you could swear that they could see your heartbeat through your coveralls? Do you not have a son or daughter who has hunted 3 season without any luck, yet they kept at the job until they were finally able to connect with their dream, be it a squirrel, duck or a spike buck? Have you not experienced having your 8 year old son with you when you took your biggest buck ever, an almost-Booner, at 12 yards while sitting in a fence row with a cast from your fingertips to your elbow, after wondering why you thought there was any point to even going out in such condition?
Yeah, you bet your last red cent we're gonna whoop, holler and pound each other on the back because these are MEMORIES that can never be replaced. Because this is our "vacation" together since the budget doesn't allow us to go to Disney World, Hawaii or sometimes even 500 miles away to see relatives. Because we know there will be fresh meat on the table for weeks to come, and WE were fortunate enough to put it there ourselves with God's help.
Because we will remember these moments and be grateful for the times we shared together and for the animals which were put there by God for our responsible use.

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from Brian Richards wrote 38 weeks 17 hours ago

Its kind of silly. Why does everything on TV have to come with excessive celebrating? Its like everything has to be edgy these days.

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from John Bardunias wrote 38 weeks 23 hours ago

i think its time and place. a seasoned hunter jumping up and down over a doe is excessive.a kid's first kill and a father and son fist pumping and high fiving is fine. some where in between those scenarios is probably whats right.
i remember my first deer, sprinting through the old orchard to my fathers spot because there was no way the adrneline would allow me to walk. we hugged and high fived and was a great moment than this year after 4 years of trying i called in and bagged my first turkey. the guy i was with said i looked like tiger woods on the 18th at the masters fist pumping and whooping it up. was i disrespecting the animal? i don't think so i said a little thank you and that bird has joined my first deer as they will live forever in the memories of me and the few who were with me those 2 days. now the celebration has been dialed down and a tinge of remorse for the animal is always there but if the need to celebrate at least a little or that bit of remorse ever disappears i beleive i will be done in the woods

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from Morrissette wrote 38 weeks 1 day ago

Mr. McKean just became my new favorite outdoor writer. "I feel rather a conflicted mixture of satisfaction and regret." I agree. Then to commit the heresy of taking us-uns behind the woodshed ... "Thank you, Mr. McKean!" It takes courage to take on your own.

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from JM wrote 38 weeks 2 days ago

@Tom-Tom,
-I am not a very good shot when it comes to bird hunting and rarely go, so I would say my 'celebration' to killing a duck or pheasant is similar to when I kill a deer.
-When it comes to squirrel hunting I do believe it is due to the 'commonality' as you stated, especially where I live. For me, I would compare killing a squirrel to catching an eating sized fish.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

I have a question for both Mr. McKean and fellow followers...how do you react after you shoot a duck, a grouse, a pheasant, a squirrel, etc.? Why are they not all treated equally? Perhaps it is due to the commonality vs. the singleness of the deer, or is it because of the size of the animal? Why would or should your reaction be any different? Your thoughts?

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from huntfishtrap wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

In general I agree with you, the staged celebratory antics of the TV hunters is a bit sickening. But I do feel that each person should find their own path, so to speak, and what one person thinks is appropriate may not work for somebody else. I personally exchange a handshake upon recovery of the animal with whoever happens to be with me when trailing, usually my dad and/or brothers. And in the interests of honesty, I have to admit, I even let out a bit of a whoop when I saw the biggest buck I've ever shot go down (It was a combination of it being a very big deer, and the fact that I had been having a very tough deer season up to that point). I'm not ashamed of it, since it was more about finally letting off the pressure of the previous two months of mostly poor hunting than celebrating the death of an animal.

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from Erik Jensen wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Really great tweet and discussion. One huge problem is that non-hunters will not understand the moment, the work that went into the hunt. Of course there is SO much ego gratification that is on "hunting" TV and no context, either, of the complex reasons we hunt.

As far as hunting shows, the only good show I've seen are Steve Rinella's ("Killer Hunts, Killer Food"). Rinella's still had to have that music which I find very annoying. I like to hear what you would hear out hunting if I watch a hunting video. Randy Newman's sounds good ("On Your Own Adventures"), which I haven't seen yet. Both guys are true-blue conservationists.

As far as yours truly, almost always I'm hunting solo and I have raised my arms after a kill and one time I laughed after I shot a buck with my unit hanging out as he approached while I was taking a piss...the situation was so funny. Generally Mckean's description of complex emotions is right on for me, however.

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from blackwolf wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

It takes a unique personality to produce these shows. They are under a lot of pressure to produce a kill. They spend many hours in the hopes of getting footage that they can use. Granted, most of them have access to property that most of us would give their eye teeth to hunt but even then whitetails have a habit of making us look foolish. I think that relief is part of the emotion that they are showing.
That being said, I too get tired of the excess celebration and would and do enjoy those that respect the hunt and the animal more.

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from Josey wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Everyone is different. I side with McKean, however.

When hunting alone or describing a hunt, I usually tell it in terms of my hunt coming to its end. The work was hard, weather tough, and the trail long in many cases. Whether the season came to an end or the animal taken, the hunt came to an end.

Respect the animals you hunt and savor the nourishment, for at some point we will all come under the blade and reach the end our life's hunt.

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from jhuff2010 wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

I can understand a regular hunter celebrating a kill. A lot of work goes into taking a buck or a doe. Then when a hunt comes together and you have that deer on the ground you cant help but get excited.

The problem I have is with the celebrity hunters yelling Booyah (Brackett) or saying they "smoked him." I get that they love hunting, but they can't be that excited about the buck they just shot when they have another buck lined up for next week.

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from Tioughnioga wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

There's hope for us yet -- not on most of the "sportsman" shows, but on some of the reality shows like Alaska The Last Frontier and Life Below Zero. The hunters on these programs talk about their hunting the way Mr. McKean writes about it. These shows are certainly more in the mainstream, too; I'd say we should thank our lucky stars that relatively few nonhunters ever see some of the shows on the outdoor channels, as it's a hard enough fight to maintain our public image as it is.

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from Bortzy96 wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

Honestly when i kill a deer i feel such a rush of emotion i have to yell or jump up and down. Its human nature to do so. If a guy is happy about his harvest so be it.

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from jcarlin wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I don't understand the hopping up and down and yelling, but a handshake or a hand on the shoulder I think communicates the bond of the men who have shared this moment. Even though my reaction is that solemnity feels appropriate, the human contact and expression of that shared emotion isn't inappropriate.
I don't think poorly of those who react with more exuberance, but it's just not me. Criticism of that behavior I think is more a reaction to fear of the PC police.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I don't watch them much any more. Most of them are so staged that little substance remains. Not to mention the constant plugging of sponsor's products that made the hunt possible. Products we can't possibly do without. My celebration after a successful hunt includes at most a handshake or a slap on the back.

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from 4everAutumn wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I finally got my fill of fist pumping “Booya’s” and other celebratory post-kill caterwauling and stopped watching. But then, what do you expect when an animal is turned into a for profit commodity? Many “hunting” shows have become nothing more than a glorified wildlife snuff film. Celebration and congratulations are part of my hunt, but they always include respect for the animal.

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from schmakenzie wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I killed a very big buck with my bow this year. When I found it my family said I sounded like a "Hollywood" Indian. I guess I was excited to find it. I did not video it and I think that may be the big difference. I am not "spiking the football" because I just got another episode, I was happy to get the meat and harvest the animal on his wild terms. Once again McKean is spot on. The answer to the crap on t.v. is informed writing like this and a lot of more of it.

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from abhoopshunter22 wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

Hunting to me is a family affair, and we always congratulate each when we shoot a deer--but it is nothing like the reactions shown on all of the hunting shows. It is a handshake and a hug. This is done, but still in respect for the animal. I don't think a person should be at either end of the spectrum from an overreacting with hootin' and hollerin' and tears because they bought a buck (this is where I get really disgusted, especially as I get older, and I am only 18), but they should still feel some accomplishment and be proud of themselves, or others, for making a humane kill.

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from HuntingEditor wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I'm with both you guys. I definitely feel the entire spectrum of emotions: jubilation, relief, a little remorse, intense comradery with my hunting partners. It's different when it's a private celebration. But the play-acting that's done for the camera turns my stomach.

Thoughts and comments from the rest of you?

mckean

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from superdough wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I see nothing wrong with it. Hunting can be very intense. You've spent months scouting, stalking, preparing, and praying and finally the animal you've been after is walking slowly down the trail toward your location. There is a huge rush of adrenaline that you have to squash in order to remain steady enough to take the shot. It's only natural that the expression of all of that work, emotion, and excitement come out in some form of celebration. If you have no reaction whatsoever... that's when I would worry about you.

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from JM wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

-I have no problem with a handshake or high five. The one thing that I hate is when they treat the deer like it is nothing but a set of antlers(which is done on almost every hunting show).
-The one time for me when hunting may become involved with 'excessive celebration' is when grilling/cooking some venison while some friends are over to watch a football game or something.

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from JM wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

-I have no problem with a handshake or high five. The one thing that I hate is when they treat the deer like it is nothing but a set of antlers(which is done on almost every hunting show).
-The one time for me when hunting may become involved with 'excessive celebration' is when grilling/cooking some venison while some friends are over to watch a football game or something.

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from schmakenzie wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I killed a very big buck with my bow this year. When I found it my family said I sounded like a "Hollywood" Indian. I guess I was excited to find it. I did not video it and I think that may be the big difference. I am not "spiking the football" because I just got another episode, I was happy to get the meat and harvest the animal on his wild terms. Once again McKean is spot on. The answer to the crap on t.v. is informed writing like this and a lot of more of it.

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from abhoopshunter22 wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

Hunting to me is a family affair, and we always congratulate each when we shoot a deer--but it is nothing like the reactions shown on all of the hunting shows. It is a handshake and a hug. This is done, but still in respect for the animal. I don't think a person should be at either end of the spectrum from an overreacting with hootin' and hollerin' and tears because they bought a buck (this is where I get really disgusted, especially as I get older, and I am only 18), but they should still feel some accomplishment and be proud of themselves, or others, for making a humane kill.

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from 4everAutumn wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I finally got my fill of fist pumping “Booya’s” and other celebratory post-kill caterwauling and stopped watching. But then, what do you expect when an animal is turned into a for profit commodity? Many “hunting” shows have become nothing more than a glorified wildlife snuff film. Celebration and congratulations are part of my hunt, but they always include respect for the animal.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

In general I agree with you, the staged celebratory antics of the TV hunters is a bit sickening. But I do feel that each person should find their own path, so to speak, and what one person thinks is appropriate may not work for somebody else. I personally exchange a handshake upon recovery of the animal with whoever happens to be with me when trailing, usually my dad and/or brothers. And in the interests of honesty, I have to admit, I even let out a bit of a whoop when I saw the biggest buck I've ever shot go down (It was a combination of it being a very big deer, and the fact that I had been having a very tough deer season up to that point). I'm not ashamed of it, since it was more about finally letting off the pressure of the previous two months of mostly poor hunting than celebrating the death of an animal.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

I have a question for both Mr. McKean and fellow followers...how do you react after you shoot a duck, a grouse, a pheasant, a squirrel, etc.? Why are they not all treated equally? Perhaps it is due to the commonality vs. the singleness of the deer, or is it because of the size of the animal? Why would or should your reaction be any different? Your thoughts?

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from JM wrote 38 weeks 2 days ago

@Tom-Tom,
-I am not a very good shot when it comes to bird hunting and rarely go, so I would say my 'celebration' to killing a duck or pheasant is similar to when I kill a deer.
-When it comes to squirrel hunting I do believe it is due to the 'commonality' as you stated, especially where I live. For me, I would compare killing a squirrel to catching an eating sized fish.

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from John Bardunias wrote 38 weeks 23 hours ago

i think its time and place. a seasoned hunter jumping up and down over a doe is excessive.a kid's first kill and a father and son fist pumping and high fiving is fine. some where in between those scenarios is probably whats right.
i remember my first deer, sprinting through the old orchard to my fathers spot because there was no way the adrneline would allow me to walk. we hugged and high fived and was a great moment than this year after 4 years of trying i called in and bagged my first turkey. the guy i was with said i looked like tiger woods on the 18th at the masters fist pumping and whooping it up. was i disrespecting the animal? i don't think so i said a little thank you and that bird has joined my first deer as they will live forever in the memories of me and the few who were with me those 2 days. now the celebration has been dialed down and a tinge of remorse for the animal is always there but if the need to celebrate at least a little or that bit of remorse ever disappears i beleive i will be done in the woods

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from superdough wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I see nothing wrong with it. Hunting can be very intense. You've spent months scouting, stalking, preparing, and praying and finally the animal you've been after is walking slowly down the trail toward your location. There is a huge rush of adrenaline that you have to squash in order to remain steady enough to take the shot. It's only natural that the expression of all of that work, emotion, and excitement come out in some form of celebration. If you have no reaction whatsoever... that's when I would worry about you.

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from HuntingEditor wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I'm with both you guys. I definitely feel the entire spectrum of emotions: jubilation, relief, a little remorse, intense comradery with my hunting partners. It's different when it's a private celebration. But the play-acting that's done for the camera turns my stomach.

Thoughts and comments from the rest of you?

mckean

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from DSMbirddog wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I don't watch them much any more. Most of them are so staged that little substance remains. Not to mention the constant plugging of sponsor's products that made the hunt possible. Products we can't possibly do without. My celebration after a successful hunt includes at most a handshake or a slap on the back.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

I don't understand the hopping up and down and yelling, but a handshake or a hand on the shoulder I think communicates the bond of the men who have shared this moment. Even though my reaction is that solemnity feels appropriate, the human contact and expression of that shared emotion isn't inappropriate.
I don't think poorly of those who react with more exuberance, but it's just not me. Criticism of that behavior I think is more a reaction to fear of the PC police.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bortzy96 wrote 38 weeks 4 days ago

Honestly when i kill a deer i feel such a rush of emotion i have to yell or jump up and down. Its human nature to do so. If a guy is happy about his harvest so be it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tioughnioga wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

There's hope for us yet -- not on most of the "sportsman" shows, but on some of the reality shows like Alaska The Last Frontier and Life Below Zero. The hunters on these programs talk about their hunting the way Mr. McKean writes about it. These shows are certainly more in the mainstream, too; I'd say we should thank our lucky stars that relatively few nonhunters ever see some of the shows on the outdoor channels, as it's a hard enough fight to maintain our public image as it is.

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from jhuff2010 wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

I can understand a regular hunter celebrating a kill. A lot of work goes into taking a buck or a doe. Then when a hunt comes together and you have that deer on the ground you cant help but get excited.

The problem I have is with the celebrity hunters yelling Booyah (Brackett) or saying they "smoked him." I get that they love hunting, but they can't be that excited about the buck they just shot when they have another buck lined up for next week.

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from Josey wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Everyone is different. I side with McKean, however.

When hunting alone or describing a hunt, I usually tell it in terms of my hunt coming to its end. The work was hard, weather tough, and the trail long in many cases. Whether the season came to an end or the animal taken, the hunt came to an end.

Respect the animals you hunt and savor the nourishment, for at some point we will all come under the blade and reach the end our life's hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

Really great tweet and discussion. One huge problem is that non-hunters will not understand the moment, the work that went into the hunt. Of course there is SO much ego gratification that is on "hunting" TV and no context, either, of the complex reasons we hunt.

As far as hunting shows, the only good show I've seen are Steve Rinella's ("Killer Hunts, Killer Food"). Rinella's still had to have that music which I find very annoying. I like to hear what you would hear out hunting if I watch a hunting video. Randy Newman's sounds good ("On Your Own Adventures"), which I haven't seen yet. Both guys are true-blue conservationists.

As far as yours truly, almost always I'm hunting solo and I have raised my arms after a kill and one time I laughed after I shot a buck with my unit hanging out as he approached while I was taking a piss...the situation was so funny. Generally Mckean's description of complex emotions is right on for me, however.

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from Morrissette wrote 38 weeks 1 day ago

Mr. McKean just became my new favorite outdoor writer. "I feel rather a conflicted mixture of satisfaction and regret." I agree. Then to commit the heresy of taking us-uns behind the woodshed ... "Thank you, Mr. McKean!" It takes courage to take on your own.

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from Brian Richards wrote 38 weeks 17 hours ago

Its kind of silly. Why does everything on TV have to come with excessive celebrating? Its like everything has to be edgy these days.

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from RandyMI wrote 37 weeks 4 days ago

A handshake or clap on the shoulder is fine.Those celebratory displays are obnoxious---I just skip those programs anymore. I also find the competative programs obscene. Used to enjoy the Drury boys productions but when they went into the team competitions they got turned off, too. I'd rather watch Pawn Stars or the Pickers than that crap....

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from blackwolf wrote 38 weeks 3 days ago

It takes a unique personality to produce these shows. They are under a lot of pressure to produce a kill. They spend many hours in the hopes of getting footage that they can use. Granted, most of them have access to property that most of us would give their eye teeth to hunt but even then whitetails have a habit of making us look foolish. I think that relief is part of the emotion that they are showing.
That being said, I too get tired of the excess celebration and would and do enjoy those that respect the hunt and the animal more.

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from LeadHead wrote 37 weeks 6 days ago

I had no idea that so many of my fellow hunters are nothing more than cold, calculated killers who have no passion for the sport of hunting. Do you have no emotion when you finally bag a nice buck after the suspense of many weeks of hope, preparation, and then all the hours spent freezing your rear-end off while maybe seeing NOTHING several hunts in a row? Do you no longer get that adrenaline rush when you see that animal working its way toward you and you know that if you blink your eyes at the wrong time they'll bust you? Is it no longer a thrilling moment when you realize that you somehow just managed to trick a smart old deer (buck or doe) who has far superior hearing, eyesight and sense of smell and sent an arrow through their lungs at 10 yards, a distance at which you could swear that they could see your heartbeat through your coveralls? Do you not have a son or daughter who has hunted 3 season without any luck, yet they kept at the job until they were finally able to connect with their dream, be it a squirrel, duck or a spike buck? Have you not experienced having your 8 year old son with you when you took your biggest buck ever, an almost-Booner, at 12 yards while sitting in a fence row with a cast from your fingertips to your elbow, after wondering why you thought there was any point to even going out in such condition?
Yeah, you bet your last red cent we're gonna whoop, holler and pound each other on the back because these are MEMORIES that can never be replaced. Because this is our "vacation" together since the budget doesn't allow us to go to Disney World, Hawaii or sometimes even 500 miles away to see relatives. Because we know there will be fresh meat on the table for weeks to come, and WE were fortunate enough to put it there ourselves with God's help.
Because we will remember these moments and be grateful for the times we shared together and for the animals which were put there by God for our responsible use.

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