After many weeks of completing Kansas' required Hunter Education program online - 13 chapters and the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety - I got to participate in a free field day this past Saturday.
This means I am now legal to hunt in the state of KS.
I learned in my class that 10 percent of the American population hunts and 10 percent is anti-hunting. The other 80 percent don't feel strongly one way or another.
I want to share that while participating in the all-day field day put on by the state of KS, a local hunting club and the group Pheasants Forever I saw just how serious true hunters take the privilege of hunting. We were told time and again about safety and ethics and respect for wildlife.
We took 2 tests and even went on a mock hunt that raised several ethical and safety dilemmas to teach us. We shot black-powder rifles, clay pigeons with shotguns, compound bow and arrows, and regular rifles. I cannot tell you how many times I heard "Assume every firearm is loaded, ALWAYS."
We were taught to consider where our hunting partners are before taking a shot, whether or not we could effectively see behind our target to what lay beyond. We were taught never to shoot at something out of range, never to put away a loaded gun, never to shoot at something at the top of a hill, never to hunt where we didn't have explicit permission or where state rules prohibited.
I left feeling that there is not and should not ever be frivolity in hunting. It is an activity that demands serious thought, planning, caution and care.
As an independent person, I want to know I can provide food for my family if need be. And as a health-conscious person, I want to know some of the food my family eats is not from a store, from a processing plant, from a mega farm. I think it can be something at once empowering and humbling, and something that keeps us connected to where we, as humans, came from.