If you live in Texas, sooner or later, someone is going to say this to you: "How do you know you don't like hunting if you've never tried it?" People here take their hunting very seriously, planning for weeks before opening day. They eat what they kill; a good sized deer can feed a family for the winter. So when a guy I was dating, J(forgot his name), asked me to go dove hunting, and asked that question, I reluctantly agreed.
At the crack of dawn, along with a large crowd, there we were. I was reasonably sure I would never actually hit anything. Doves are not huge birds, after all. I was determined to just shoot a few rounds of pellets into the air, and that would be that. When the doves began flying, I dutifully raised the shotgun to my shoulder and fired. It was a tremendous noise; the doves that fell from the sky were likely scared to death.
After a couple of hours,my ears were ringing. J decided that we should drive to his family's property, where we might find a few more doves to frighten to death. Thirty minutes later we drove over an extremely rough dirt road in a pickup truck, me holding on for dear life and J looking for doves. He pulled over near some trees, shut off the engine, and turned to me.
"There are two doves over on that branch," he whispered. I could not see a thing. Not a single dove. If there were two doves in that tree, they couldn't have been worried. I wasn't sure exactly what I was supposed to be shooting at. I said as much. We got out of the truck quietly, and J handed me the shotgun.
"See that branch right there?" J leaned in next to me, his mouth next to my ear. He pointed right in front of us. "It's straight up from there...just lift the gun slow and easy...easy...now...SHOOT THE SQUIRREL! SHOOT THE SQUIRREL! DAMMIT--SHOOT THE SQUIRREL!!!"
He grabbed the gun from me and shot that squirrel, which I never did see. The doves flew away. My heart was practically bursting from my chest while J ran to find what he had killed.
I was livid.
"What in the HELL was that about?" I yelled. "Why did you want me to shoot a poor squirrel? You scared me half to death!" J just looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.
"Squirrels are good eating," was all he said. I threw up a little in my mouth. We got back into the truck and drove around a few more hours, until I accidentally shot two doves, who zigged when they should have zagged. J had killed about twenty. He cleaned all of them, wrapping the breasts in bacon with a jalepeno, and grilled them, along with the squirrel. Because you eat what you kill.
I killed the doves, so I gave thanks and ate them, and they were delicious. I decided then and there, however, that hunting was NOT for me, and neither was J. In that split second when he was screaming at me to shoot a defenseless squirrel, I actually thought about shooting him. I'm not proud of that, but I thought about it all the same. I can't hide from it. It still frightens me to see that darkness within myself, and I still grapple with what that says about me. I have a long road ahead of me to spiritually recover from that single moment.
Because you eat what you kill.