An odd thing happened today. I was walking through the woods as it was a fine autumn day, looking for deer so I could take their picture. I spent a lot of time just listening to the woods; a wren came over to scold me, a nuthatch crawled down the tree, squirrels scurried, and I heard blissful silence.
After close to an hour, the mood changed. I heard gunshots fairly close by and hurried on the trail, making noise so hunters who I thought were illegally hunting on the conservation department’s land would know I was a human. Then I saw them, on the right as I came to a clearing: two men shooting pumpkins on nearby property. I said, “I’m near you” so that they would not be startled, and they invited me to shoot.
Of course, my experience as a child shooting rifles and one time shooting a pistol kicked in and I thought, “Oh, this will be fun!” It felt like adrenaline had whizzed through my system and I really wanted to shoot! It must be the feeling of any hunter.
I went over and one fellow handed me, a total stranger, a handgun. I got all set, aimed, and then the man asked if I needed ear plugs. I thought I should have them because I do have slight hearing damage, but the fellow realized he didn’t have an extra pair so he jumped on his tractor to go to his barn to get some more. I said, “No, don’t bother! It’s not that important!” He relented and I handed back the gun.
As I got back on the trail to head to my car, I heard the gunshots, very loudly, and my first thought was that I would not get any photos of deer today because the gunshots would scare them away. Then I kept hearing the gunshots and I realized I could not tell the direction the shots were coming from. I thought about all the animals that must be frightened and how those gunshots ruined the calm of listening to nature I had cherished earlier. There were more people now at the park and they would not enjoy the sounds of rustling leaves or scolding birds. Even from a mile away as I drove off, I still heard the gunshots. I am sure those two men obliterated the pumpkins.
All of this led up to my dilemma, and I wrestled with myself for quite some time. You all know I am a vegan and would never harm an animal, and those two men assured me they would not shoot any animals either. But if I were to travel the same path again and those two men invited me over for a shoot, would I go? At first, I really thought I would shoot whatever target they had – I love shooting at targets.
But my conscience was telling me that it is wrong. Humans ruin everything, and I was trying to deny the noise pollution that I know I would make if I shot a gun. This was a several hour struggle for me; yet I knew early on that I would eventually make the decision to decline any invitation to shoot a gun near a woods again. I am just surprised how difficult this decision was and I can’t be proud of how long it took for me to get over my desire for fun at the expense of others and to try to ignore that I would be harming humans and animals with the noise.