John Harrigan: Hauling home deer or moose is 'localvore'
Every now and then during hunting season, I write something about the fact that hunting is not just about Elmer Fudd — it’s also about Mrs. Fudd, and maybe about the Fudds’ daughter, Phoebe, or maybe Elmer’s mother, Maude. The message is that hunting is not just a guy thing, or as the more rabid among the anti-hunters like to portray it, those big, bad men out there with their big, bad guns.
Many newspapers, particularly weekly papers — which, by the way, outnumber daily papers in this country by around eight to one — run pictures of happy hunters with their deer. Often the happy hunters are grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives or kids.
The more unbothered-by-the-facts devotees of the shrill, anti-hunting crowd don’t know how to handle this. It’s the equivalent of a pinball machine going on “tilt,” a short-circuit in their already fact-deprived brains. The facts don’t fit the fables. Women and kids? Out there shooting deer?
The few replies I’ve ever received on this have “explained” this aberration by alleging that the poor, feckless, malleable-minded women and children have obviously been “brainwashed” (to quote one of the more vociferous letters) by those evil, manipulative, Cro-Magnon men controlling their lives.
I just laugh at this because it’s so shallow and patently ridiculous, but then let’s consider what an insult this is to all those women and children who are right out there with the guys, in camps and in the woods, doing their thing.
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This brings another thing to mind. Why do some people get upset about newspaper photos of people with their deer, but it is somehow, magically, OK to see people with their trophy fish — or fish that aren’t even trophies, as in kids with their July 4th fishing derby fish?
Is it because deer are warm-blooded and furry and have big brown eyes, whereas fish — well, somehow they just don’t count?
And in the same vein, there’s the alleged offensive “display” of dead deer, someone hanging a deer in his backyard, or someone just hauling a moose or deer home.
There have actually been attempts to pass local ordinances against people hanging their deer in sight of the passing public. Yes, this in New Hampshire. What’s next? No backyard barbecues on account of the offensive smoke, scent and sight of dead meat on the grill?
As for transporting deer from woods to home, there once was a law that you had to have at least part of the animal showing, such as the rear leg of a deer protruding from the pickup bed, so game wardens could spot and check passing hunters. But that law is long gone.
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And in subsequent years, there have been earnest appeals from some who don't want to risk offending an ill-informed public for hunters to cover up (hide) their kills on the way home.
By hiding something, we concede that it is somehow shameful. There is nothing shameful about hunting, nor is there anything shameful about hauling home some of the best, homegrown, sustainable, healthiest meat there is (think "localvore"). By hiding our kills, we make a visible carcass a rarity, an alarming sight worthy of calling 911. By keeping what we do in the public eye, we continue to make it what it is - a part of New Hampshire tradition and life, a part of the normal scene, which is what it has always been and what it should always be.
John Harrigan's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. His address is Box 39, Colebrook 03576. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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