I was talking with a fellow gun writer last week, and in the middle of the conversation he gave me an odd look and paused.
“Do you like big-game hunting as much as you used to?” he asked.
“No,” I said, “I don’t like watching animals die.”
“I feel the same way,” said my colleague, “I didn’t know if anyone else felt the same.”
Now this is a guy who is maybe ten years younger than I am, but who has done a ton of big-game hunting, and I mean a ton. I think that unless you are some kind of blood-crazed creepazoid, you get enough of it, and you decide to hunt birds or shoot targets, or do something that doesn’t involve killing something that wants to live as badly as you do.
In 1978, when I went to Africa for the first time, I had the privilege of hunting with Grits Gresham, who is as great a gentleman and sportsman as anyone who has shouldered a gun. Grits was about 55 at the time, and killed only one animal the whole trip while I smoked up everything we saw. At the time I didn’t understand it, but now I do.
The last two times I’ve been to Africa I’ve taken a total of three head of game, and the next time, if I’m lucky enough to go, I probably won’t take any. I will just dodder around with a rifle on my shoulder and a smile on my face, and that will be perfectly fine.