For the love of nature

By: Robert Lee - Contributing Columnist

To some, this title of the column is going to appear as a contradiction of words and actions. But it is not if you will take the time to read on. Also, it was written in fun and meant to be absurd to a degree. I do not try to offend anyone. This is a hunter’s story, and this is where the rub will come in for some that will read these next words. They will ask: “How can you have any love for nature if you want to kill it and eat it?”

Bingo, baby. You hit the nail on the head. Kill it and eat it. I am not a man that will kill an animal just for the sake of killing it to say, “Look what I killed.” I come from a time in our country’s history in which if you did not hunt, you did not eat. This was the way of life for just about all of the people that lived in the rural south of 50 years ago. I can not say, for a lot of folks in certain areas of the south, that it does not take place on a regular basis today — because it does. For some, this is just a way of life that they prefer. For others it is a necessity. Either way, these people, for the most part, do a service to all of nature’s animals that are still used for food.

These hunters, the true hunters, maintain the balance of animals so that we are not overrun by, lets just say, the deer population. If it were not for the hunters thinning out the crop, thousands of motorists would be killed every year. This is just a fact of nature. In most states, you still have a problem with the deer population. Just ask one of the locals to tell you his story of full-contact deer-on-man.

Most of you know a good friend of mine, his name is William Nichols. A fine mechanic indeed, his shop is on Zion Church Road. Not far from his shop, one day, it seems that a deer, for some unknown reason, wanted to drive William’s truck. Now, I thought to myself that was rather foolish of that deer — it’s against the law in North Carolina for anyone to operate a motor vehicle unless they have a valid driver’s license. I guess it would still apply for deer. What do you think? I do have to say that I question that though. Reason being: Have you seen that Gieco commercial on TV? You know, the one where the woman has an accident in which she has hit a deer. The whole time you are thinking, “Is it going to show a dead deer on the road — on TV?” The tree huggers would love that one. They would rather it be a dead human on the road. But no — it shows a deer behind the steering wheel of the car. So it seems that somewhere in America there is a state that allows a deer to drive. They made it look that way.

Now think about it, if it’s on the Internet or TV, it’s got to be true. I believe it, don’t you? I’ve got some beach-front property to sell you up in Ellerbe. It’s prime, I promise. I even have a baby whale in a fish bowl. His name is Skipper. Is it not funny how I get sidetracked so easily? Now maybe, just maybe, that deer did not want to drive William’s truck. But for some reason, that deer wanted in the truck and that truck was moving. That deer decided he could fit through the window and he did — most of him. Now I know for a fact that William Nichols does not pick up hitchhikers. He did that day, willing or not. That deer was so upset that William would not slow down and let him in the truck and that he did headbutt William. It was a sneak attack — William never saw it coming. That deer busted William in the side of the head and he near ‘bout took his left ear off. That’s William’s story. William near ‘bout tore my deer ear off. Now that’s the deer’s side of the story.

The truth is, William just about lost his own ear from this accident. So you see, hunting is necessary to keep down the populations. Truly, there are not enough hunters or natural predators — even though we do have a bountiful crop of coyotes in the county. There is one group that does go out and hunt, but these are not the true hunters that I refer to. I have seen it with my own eyes in the past years out on Buck Wall Road. The waste was, for me, the sad part. Eight deer or more dumped in the ditches or dumped in Cartledge Creek. The waste being nothing more than the back strap being cut out. Those deer could have been given to the needy in the area — but no, just throw it away. It doesn’t mean anything. “I got what I wanted.” I’d like to be the one to give you something. I’d like to turn your mouth inside out.

I have to say one thing with my words. These people that did this were not from Richmond County. These so-called hunters were from outside of our county. It serves no cause to call out the name of this hunt club. It might be a club, but it was not a hunt club. Still, in defense of this club, I must say that this problem was from many years ago. The hunters from our county, for the most part, do look after our resources. They do not waste what God has given his people. I do know a lot of hunters who share with others in the county that do eat wild meat. This kind of a man is truly what the hunters of thousands of years ago were.

These were the men of the villages — and later the towns — who grew up around the natural resources of the hunting lands. In time, the nature of these villages and town’ would turn to the domestication of the animals that we know and survive off of today. The reason was to have a reliable food source that allowed us to grow and prosper as human beings. Had it not been for the hunters and the trappers of some 300 years ago, we might still be just the original 13 colonies. These men, these hunters, went forth from the western outposts of Kentucky and Tennessee gathering food, but also gathering knowledge and information. More is owed to the hunters than we will ever know, or than we will ever give credit to or for. I, for one, as do so many who will read my words, know that had it not been for the hunters — even in our own lifetime — we would have not eaten, or for the most part, there would not have been enough food to survive. When I see these words put to print, I think to myself: How could this have ever been in these times that we call modern? I can tell you why. It is the price that we paid for being called southern men and women. All poor southerners, black and white, paid for the Reconstruction Period after the War of Northern Aggression. We paid, and our collective punishment for the southern states was starvation and poverty. This still goes on for some southerners. But you know one thing? You can’t keep us down — we are hunters we are survivors. We are the ones who do this for the love of nature.

Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.

Robert Lee

Contributing Columnist