I hate guns. They’re dangerous and scary and I’ve never wanted to own one. Kevin, though, owns two, both shotguns, a 410 and a 12-gauge. When he first brought them into our house, I had the heebie-jeebies for months.
Part of this is temperamental. I’m not squeamish about things like large insects or weird food, but injury and death get me every time. I have to look away whenever the skin barrier is breached, either in real life or on the screen. Guns reliably breach the skin barrier.
The other part of it, I’m sure, is enculturated. There are things for which Jews seem not to have an affinity. Water sports, for example. Mayonnaise. And guns. It’s not that Jews object to their existence; their utility is acknowledged. But firearms are for other people. “Guns don’t kill people,” the attitude seems to be. “Goyim kill people.”
The thing is, if you’re going to hunt, you need guns. (Unless you’re good with a crossbow, which is even scarier than a gun.) I was always okay with that because I never wanted to hunt.
None of this is ideological. I have no objection to guns per se (shotguns, that is; handguns, outside of the military and law enforcement, are another story), and I think hunting for food is a perfectly reasonable way to feed your family (hunting for sport is different). It’s just that I want to keep my distance from injury and death.
Back in February, when I first began this enterprise, I wrote about my qualms about hunting and my skepticism that I’d be able to overcome them. (It was one of my better efforts, I think. Read it if you have a minute.) Now, though, at the end of October, I’m almost there.
I don’t know how it happened. Perhaps a year of living in close proximity to my food supply helped me internalize, on a gut level, the idea that animals have to be killed in order to be eaten. Maybe just thinking about it all the time accustomed me to it. Or maybe I just willed it. An unwillingness to hunt seemed to undermine my commitment to procuring my own food, and I wanted very much to get over it.
On Monday I went “hunting” for the very first time. It wasn’t really hunting, because I don’t yet have a license and can’t even carry a gun, let alone shoot one. Kevin had the gun, and I went along for the experience.
We were in search of pheasants, and we spent two hours combing fields that are stocked with them. We saw nary a one, but we had an excellent hike and I got a sense of what pheasant hunting is. And I got to wear my new orange hat!
We didn’t get dinner, but we did come home with a zillion lentil-sized seeds sticking stubbornly to our pants and shoelaces. These attracted the interest of the chickens the moment we stepped out of the car. I figured they thought the seeds were ticks, which they are reputed to love, and was afraid they’d be bitterly disappointed when they found out they were seeds – it’s like when you think something’s a chocolate chip and it turns out to be a raisin. They loved them, though, and cleaned us off thoroughly.
My licenselessness means that I’ll have to sit this season out, but Kevin’s going to see if he can’t get us a deer. Next year, though, I’m going to hunt something. Since I already row, and I firmly believe mayonnaise is essential to a BLT, that’ll complete my stereotype-busting triumvirate.