There was a first-day hunting accident in Bucks County, Pa. A 52 year old man was shot to death after dragging a deer he’d killed. It was one of those local news stories that you instinctively felt was going to change.
First news reports called the man’s death “suspicious.” Later reports said the man was shot by a “high-powered rifle,” a factor that raised immediate suspicions. Rifle hunting is prohibited in Bucks County, unlike other counties in Pennsylvania. In Bucks County, people hunt deer with shotguns, which do not have nearly the range of rifles.
Investigating authorities came to the conclusion that the man was shot from a couple hundred yards distance. Police are calling it a homicide but haven’t determined whether the man’s death was “negligent homicide” or intentional.
Barry Groh is described as a cautious hunter who did all the right things. Reports say Groh called his 19 year old son for assistance in dragging the deer he killed from the woods at approximately 10:15 a.m. By the time Groh’s son arrived, Groh was dead.
Not surprisingly, the anti-hunting crowd has taken the opportunity of a man’s death to demonstrate a barrage of thudding “witticisms.” “Pic Man” gleefully calls it “the first hunter harvested during deer season.” “AndyReid’sMustache” quips: “hunting, sport for the unintelligent.” “Mark Carr” backhands the police: “Good detective work, fellows. How many years of cop college did it take?”
I suppose such commentators are all vegetarians or prefer their meat killed clinically and out of sight. But some hunting critics make a valid point in complaining of the disrespect some hunters have for private property. Unfortunately, there are also those hunters who act as if the outdoors is a repository for detritus. For others, hunting provides an occasion for drinking, riding around on ATVs, and playing with smart-phones.
I am fortunate to be surrounded, in our area of Monroe County, by a handful of large landowners who know each other. Our own meager landholding abuts a seventy acre parcel on one side, and several hundred acres of private land on the other. We make contact with each other during hunting season and pass along general information about location and hunting plans.
I don’t like to wound deer and have them run off so I don’t take shots I’m not sure of. I don’t use a .300 Weatherby magnum for deer hunting-preferring an entirely sufficient Winchester .32 special. I position myself during a hunt so as to never fire above the horizon. The bullet I fired at the buck I shot last year exploded his heart.
There’s an extended traditional family who hunt together across the road-brothers, uncles, nephews, and grandpas. The LeBars were hunting here for several generations, and likely they will be hunting here for generations more. Twenty-year old Brett is on leave from the Marines, timed just right to join the hunt with other family members. The LeBars are respectful to a fault, straight-shooting, and even without the advantage of modern weapons, they could survive as well as the early settlers who came here in the 1700s.
That is something the anti-hunting people, entirely dependent on the provisions of others, could not do. But this is 2010, not 1710. It’s absurd to think there would ever again be a need for self-sufficiency on the order of a hunter-gatherer culture. In our Brave New World, you can order from your Whole Foods ap and have it delivered. So why are we, willing atavisms and refugees from collectivism, still going into the woods with guns?