It’s Complicated

I’m also genuinely impressed by all the good environmental work done by the likes of Dufferin Northern Peel Anglers and Hunters Association and Ducks Unlimited.

June 19, 2018 | | Editor’s Desk

As a young woman, and avowed animal and nature lover, I was vehemently opposed to hunting. I only got off my high horse when it belatedly dawned on me that the industrially farmed beef, pork and chicken I bought neatly packaged at the supermarket came from animals whose lives were far more nasty, brutish and short than those of the relatively fewer animals taken, mostly also to eat, by hunters.

I still eat meat, though much less of it, and I haven’t bought it at a supermarket for years now, preferring to buy from local farms where I can feel more confident the animals had something like a decent life, however short. My vegetarian friends roll their eyes at this, but it’s a compromise that works for me – and I know, unlike the vast majority of people, it’s the lucky choice I have because I live in the midst of our lush, productive farmland. (Check out the Headwaters Farm Fresh listings to source your own suppliers.)

I’m also genuinely impressed by all the good environmental work done by the likes of Dufferin Northern Peel Anglers and Hunters Association and Ducks Unlimited. It’s hard to argue the ducks they shoot for dinner aren’t worth the price for the improved habitat for all wetland waterfowl and wildlife. It’s also hard to argue the lives of wild ducks and turkeys have more value than those of domestic poultry.

Still, guns are scary, and some hunters can be jerks. A pair of hunters once stopped by the roadside and took shots at the Canada geese foraging in the recently harvested grain fields behind our house. We asked the hunters to stop, and they obligingly disappeared over the hill. But a few minutes later they took their revenge. From beyond the hill, buckshot clattered on the steel roof of our barn and bounced off the ground around me, my husband and young daughter. That was a long time ago, but fallout from such experiences tends to linger for a lifetime.

“Yeah, there are definitely some jerks,” a hunter and gun-collector acquaintance of mine acknowledges. “And they give us all a bad name.” Indeed it is the underlying fear of a jerk with a lethal weapon in his hands, as much as any consideration of animal welfare, that makes people itchy about hunters.

Even so, guns are a reality of rural life – not just for hunters, but farmers, collectors, target and trap shooters, police and, relatively rarely here, criminals. In this issue, writer Anthony Jenkins set out to investigate who owns guns and why in our community, and how attitudes are shaped.

His answer: It’s complicated.

About the Author More by Signe Ball

Signe Ball is publisher/editor of In The Hills.

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A trap shooter tests his skills with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. Photo by Visualspace | istockphoto.

What About Guns?

Jun 19, 2018 | Anthony Jenkins | Leisure

Hunters, range shooters, collectors – they’re part of rural culture. But with gun violence making headlines, gun enthusiasts are mostly choosing to lie low, and some residents are wondering how safe our countryside really is. Anthony Jenkins decided to find out.

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