There is a small percentage of the U.S. population that hunts, and a small percentage that hates hunting. While many of us believe the general public looks on at hunters with disapproval, the truth is, most of them rarely think about hunting at all.

When they do think about it, the non-hunters I encounter believe two things:

– We are crazy for keeping the hours we do and going out in the cold.

– Hunting is okay if you eat what you shoot.

More often than not the reaction I get from the non-hunters I encounter is polite curiosity. For instance, after I shot my turkey the other day I stopped to treat myself to more caffeine at a coffee place in a strip mall on the edge of town. The shop was full of housewives, professionals, college students and people working on their novels.

I was in full camo, headnet still pulled down around my neck, with the bloody turkey head stain you get on the seat of your pants when you carry a gobbler over your shoulder. I felt conspicuous, but no one screamed “murderer!” or shielded their children’s eyes from the sight of me. Instead, the 20-something barrista kid poured my coffee, then we had the following conversation. It was far from scintillating but it sums up the many people’s understanding of, and attitude toward, hunting:

Him: “Been hunting?”

Me: “Yes, for turkeys.”

Him: “Did you get any?”

Me: “Yes, I got one.”

Him: “How many can you get?”

Me: “Two.”

Him: “A day?”

Me: “No, a year.”

Him: “Cool. Congratulations.”

I put a dollar in the tip jar to help win his heart and mind all the way over to our side and went home.