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From the Pen of Robert L. Cook

A reporter called me the other day from Washington, or somewhere like that, to ask some questions about “Virtual Hunting,” those Web sites that make it possible to actually fire a rifle somewhere out in the boondocks and shoot an animal by clicking the mouse. The writer asked if I wanted to comment. My initial reaction was to say, “No, it’s disgusting, and our Commission and Legislature have prohibited it in Texas.” But, since I am older and wiser these days … OK, I’m older anyway … I decided that I would comment and I told them something like this.

“In my opinion, hunting is not just about killing an animal; it never has been to me … ever. Hunting is about getting outside, seeing and learning about the plants and the animals that have survived and evolved out there since the beginning of time. Hunting is about sunrises and sunsets. Hunting is about the sounds, and the quiet of the outdoors. Hunting is about the cold and the hot, the wet and the dry. Hunting is about sitting out in the open in the rain … just because you like it; or feeling the sleet hit your face. Hunting is about the pleasure of being with friends and family around the camp, and strong black coffee, and the never-ending game of dominos, and frost so thick it cakes up on your boot laces. Hunting is about the coyote’s song just after sunset and that spooky laugh of the barred owl in the night. Hunting is about having a very deadly weapon in your hands, and having the ability to use it effectively. Hunting is about making the decision, taking the responsibility, of whether or not to kill that animal and then acting on that very personal decision one way or the other. If you decide to harvest that animal, then you must make a quick, clean kill, and you must utilize all of the edible meat from that kill. I don’t think “hunters” necessarily start out that way; I did not. But over time, hunting became a very personal experience for me, and I became fully aware of the choices that I make while hunting and the personal responsibility that comes along with the decision to go into the outdoors fully armed and licensed to kill game animals. To appreciate the experience and the responsibility that comes with hunting you must reach that point where you consciously make the decision to harvest that animal or to let that animal pass for whatever reason.”

My comments got edited along the way and they published the following: “It is very clear from the actions of both the Commission and the Legislature that the concept of remote control hunting is viewed with great distaste in Texas by a vast majority of the state’s hunters and citizenry. Hunting is not just about killing. It is a personal decision that involves responsibility and a level of respect toward the animal being hunted and the environment that we share.” I kind of like the way they said it.

I love to hunt. I enjoy hunting. Folks always ask, “Did you kill anything today?” and about 99 percent of the time the answer is “No.” My wife, who has known me for almost 50 years, now asks “Did you enjoy getting outdoors today?” and the answer is always “Yes.” Every once in a great while, I even bring home some venison, or a mess of quail or a couple of mallards for the table. It depends.

Get outdoors. Enjoy.

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