Commentary: The first rule of hunting

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramJanuary 5, 2013 


Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

ROSS HAILEY — MCT/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

At a speaking engagement for a large civic group a few years ago, I was introduced by someone using information he had gotten from a colleague.

He specifically had requested some scintillating facts that the audience wouldn't already know about me.

As it turned out, the most "interesting" tidbits my co-worker had supplied were about my quirky eating habits, and my presenter that day reeled off a list of foods of which I don't partake -- things many would find odd, like cheese, shellfish, mushrooms, lamb and cooked fruit (yeah, no apple, cherry or blueberry pies).

It's hard for people to believe I don't eat pizza, and while I love Mexican and Italian food, I always have to tell the waiter, "no cheese" or "no mushrooms, even in the sauce."

I know most of you couldn't care less about my strange dietary needs, but stick with me for a moment because I promise it will help make a point about a pressing social and political issue on the minds of most Americans today.

My older siblings still tease me about being a picky eater, having grown up in a house where on a given day there was food on the table that had come from the land -- fresh vegetables, fish that had been caught that day and small and big game that my father and brothers had killed on a one-day or overnight hunting trip.

Yes, there were guns in my home, and even as youngsters we were taught to shoot, beginning with that first BB gun, then the air pellet rifle and graduating to the single-shot .22. There was a least one shotgun in the house, my father's prized .30-30 Winchester, and my dad had a pistol hidden away in his shop that he'd take out once a year to target practice and clean.

I was a pretty good shot with the .22, and even as a kid with the often-inaccurate BB gun.

My father taught us rules on how to carry weapons, safely load and clean them and be aware of the whereabouts of others when you fire your gun.

He also taught a lesson on what you shoot.

There is something about a boy with a BB gun who quickly gets bored with shooting tin cans and instinctively wants to see if he can hit a bird, sitting still or in flight.

After seeing me shoot at (and possibly wound) a small bird, my father told me that except for predators of some kind, "Don't kill what you don't eat."

As I said, hunting runs in our family. My brother and several nephews just recently returned from separate deer hunting trips.

One of my older brothers, who loved deer hunting, also couldn't wait for dove and quail season to open. He'd always be there on the first day and usually came back with a bounty that he wanted cooked right away.

Well, guess what? I don't eat quail or dove or venison in any form.

And although my mother apparently was great at cooking squirrel and rabbit, I can't stand to look at that meat on a plate.

Remembering my father's command, my hunting days were over before they got started.

Keep in mind, I don't begrudge any hunters, and I still love to be around my family members after they've returned from the deer lease and listen to the stories they tell, because there is always something to laugh about.

Most important, I love seeing them because I know they all returned safely, one more time.

Even though I try not worry about them, I can't help it.

Still, it's a joy to see them process their meat, cook it and then sit down to hearty meals, continuing to tell their tall tales and tease each other about who can and cannot hunt.

The best thing about the hunters in my family, though, is that none of them needs an assault rifle to kill game.

Twitter: @BobRaySanders

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