Of course, most Southerners don’t hunt simply for the meat. Would you rather A. crawl out of a warm bed at five a.m. to go and climb up a deer stand and freeze for hours hoping to get lucky or B. go to Kroger and buy a t-bone? Right.
So what is it about hunting that appeals to Southern males (and, yes, even some females)? The thrill of the chase? Well, no, you generally sit and wait for the deer to come to you. The camaraderie? I’m told you’re not allowed to chit chat so as not to spook the deer. Does it really come down to the joy of killing animals? Isn’t that how most serial killers get started?
Best I can figure, deer hunting is about bragging rights. As if the number of points on the antlers of a man’s felled deer directly correlates to the size of his unmentionables. I mean, you don’t often hear about someone shooting a 5 pointer. No, they’re all aiming for 10 or even 12 pointers.
Also, there’s the matter of taxidermy. What deer hunter doesn’t aspire to display his trophy deer head for any and all to admire? Some even go so far as to use the poor creature’s paws as a gun rack. Hmm…collecting trophies of one’s victims…isn’t that another well-known serial killer trait? Or am I the only one who watches far too much Law & Order?
In hunting circles, a boy’s first kill is a rite of passage similar to a bar mitzvah…with a lot more blood and a lot less dancing. At the very least, the blood of the animal is smeared on the kid’s face. Some folks even go so far as to encourage the kid to drink the blood or take a bite of the heart. If this sounds barbaric, well, that’s because it is.
Speaking of barbaric, when I worked as photographer for a small town Mississippi newspaper, I was tapped to shoot pictures of recently departed deer alongside a happy hunter. Usually, the deer’s tongue hung out of the side of its mouth, which I always imagined as a belated eff you. And in case you are wondering, yes, the newspaper occasionally ran the photos if it was a slow news week. Like there’s any other kind in Crystal Springs, MS.
Some argue that deer hunting is necessary to thin the herd. Sadly, that’s true. Ask anybody who’s smashed into one of Bambi’s kin as it unexpectedly dashes across the road. And if you live in the South, you know at least one, if not a dozen, folks who’ve experienced that particular trauma. But, hey, even if your car’s totaled, you still get free venison. And you wonder why everybody in the South has a deep freeze…
Are you a hunter or more of a gathering type?