Do you say a hunter’s prayer when you go hunting? Do you believe in praying over a dead deer? What are your thoughts on your relationship as a hunter/predator and how that relates to the animals you bring home for your family’s dinner table?
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These are all rhetorical questions, of course. I’m simply curious how others approach what can be a deep topic that cuts to a very personal level.
Each year I come in contact with many great deer hunters. For the most part, theyxe2x80x99re hard-working, fun loving people who truly respect the land and the animals they hunt. However, over the years, Ixe2x80x99ve noticed what I consider to be a disturbing trend. I canxe2x80x99t really put my finger on it, but it seems to me that many hunters have stepped off the path of righteousness.
In general, I believe many modern hunters donxe2x80x99t truly appreciate the animals they kill. Maybe they’re spoiled by todayxe2x80x99s monster bucks and record deer herds. Maybe our comfortable lifestyles have detached our souls from all things wild.
Maybe we just donxe2x80x99t care.
Minimally, all deer hunters should be thankful for a venison bounty. Most of us are. However, how many of us truly respect the deer we kill? How many of us stand in quiet deliberation over a fallen whitetail? How many take a moment to ponder our own existence? This isnxe2x80x99t about religion. Itxe2x80x99s about respect. It’s isn’t a new idea. Sacred hunting rituals are as old as mankind.
Canadaxe2x80x99s Cree Indians were especially reverent to slain animals. In fact, their entire hunting tradition was built on elaborate rules honoring slain creatures.
Hunters in American tribes followed similar rules, and they made sure the remains of every deer were respected. It was customary for many tribes to prop a buckxe2x80x99s head xe2x80x94 and antlers xe2x80x94 in the crotch of a tree so the buckxe2x80x99s xe2x80x9cspiritxe2x80x9d could watch sunrises and sunsets. They also believed this reassured other animals that they neednxe2x80x99t be afraid of yielding their bodies to humans. Other tribes were careful to utilize the entire animal, including every scrap of meat from the carcass.
I use these examples not to advocate pantheism xe2x80x94 the belief that all things are God xe2x80x94 but to illustrate how far modern man is detached from the earth.
A University of Wisconsin college professor once told me that irreverence toward dead creatures is common among people who are anxious about their own mortality. He also said it often takes but one reminder to trigger the necessary guilt to right onexe2x80x99s internal compass. Looking at todayxe2x80x99s world makes me wonder if primitive hunters possessed a far greater understanding of the natural world than their modern counterparts.
Should we celebrate our successes? Absolutely. But where is the line drawn between humble adoration and disrespect?
A Deer Hunter’s Prayer
For me personally, I say a prayer every time I harvest an animal. It’s very simple, and goes something like this:
Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful day, and thank you for this wonderful gift. May this deer’s body nourish our bodies, and may its memory nourish our souls.
Again, this is not about religion. It’s about respect.
xe2x80x94 What are your thoughts? Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and provide your thoughts!
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