Janet Sheridan: Thoughts about hunting
October 8, 2010
I remember waiting for seating at a popular restaurant in the historic mining town of Virginia City, Nev.
A gaggle of local teenage girls walked by the line that spilled onto the sidewalk. As they passed, they spoke loudly about the summer tourists who invaded downtown, dressed funny and didn't tip enough.
A ruddy-faced gentleman wearing plaid Bermuda shorts with dress shoes and white socks pulled high, stepped out of the waiting crowd and addressed them: "Girls, with good health, hard work and an active IQ, someday you may be lucky enough to have the time, money and interest to visit other places. If so, I hope nobody pokes fun at you or finds you annoying."
His embarrassed wife shushed him, but others applauded.
Each year when out-of-town hunters roll into town, I hear grumbling about increased traffic, supermarket lines and crowded restaurants. In my opinion, such pesky irritations call for dancing in the streets — except during the traffic jamlets each day before school starts, when such cavorting might be dangerous.
These seasonal inconveniences mean increased cash flow around town: a good thing for all.
Though I don't hunt, I never complain about the hunters who visit Craig.
I've lived with hunting my entire life. I grew up thinking everybody ate venison, hung antlers on outbuildings and transported dead deer on car fenders.
The high school I attended didn't hold school on the first day of hunting season, and the town held a Deer Hunter's Ball the night before, an event featuring red sweatshirts, heavy boots and more action in the parking lot than the dance hall.
My dad initiated my brothers into the culture of hunting, but not my sisters and me. I don't remember caring — except now, when my brothers tell stories about hunting with Dad, and I can't correct them.
My brother, Bob, told me that when he served a mission in Canada for two years, he was homesick during hunting season. He missed the pheasant-season smell of crushed sagebrush, dreamed about stalking deer up a draw, and longed to sight ducks in the cold morning fog on Utah Lake.
He made no mention of homesickness at Christmastime, on his birthday or for his family. I guess we were so much chopped liver.
My dad worked night shift at the iron mill, hunted deer during the day and never met a mountain he couldn't climb — efficiently. He hunted through his 80s, though he didn't care much about killing anything anymore; he didn't need the meat; he just liked looking out from the top of a mountain.
I have one deer story of my own. My parents moved to Lander, Wyo., while I was in college, so I traveled there for Christmas vacations.
The first year I did so, a friend I'd met the summer before called to see if I wanted to go sledding up Sink's Canyon with her and a couple of Lander boys she knew.
The moon lit our way down a swooping track crossed by tree shadows, and a bonfire warmed us between runs. I began to see the appeal of life in Lander.
Later, driving down the canyon, a deer leaped in front of our car. After impact, it writhed on the ground until one of the boys took a gun from the trunk and killed it.
Familiar stuff, but then the experience took a new twist. The guys dressed out the deer, found its liver, cut off a chunk and ate it.
Their actions didn't offend my sensibilities, but I was surprised; when offered a piece, I declined.
I felt right at home when I moved into a hunting town like Craig. To me, local hunters seem safe and skilled, and visiting hunters seem to appreciate our area.
Though I miss some of the hikes Joel and I discontinue so hunters can have their day, I like the uptick of activity in the county as days shorten, the mountains change color and snow rides into town.