|Photo illustration by Holly Heyser|
Recently, though, I faced a flipped version of that test: I actually was being followed by a filmmaker who had the potential to blast what I was doing onto TV screens across America, and I faced a situation that I thought would look bad, but that passed my personal ethics test.
The question I faced was this: Do I do what I’d do in this situation if I were hunting alone and present myself honestly, or do I alter my behavior rather than explain myself on camera?
If you’re familiar with my old blog NorCal Cazadora, you’ll be able to answer this question easily. If you don’t, allow me to explain: I’m so unflinchingly honest that my mother once aptly described my writing style as “naked.”
The scenario I faced with the filmmaker in tow was a small pack of jack rabbits a good 100 yards ahead of me on a trail, out of range because I was using a shotgun. When they spotted me, most started heading up a levee for an easy exit, but one of them inexplicably began hopping toward me.
While this scene met a literal definition of fair chase--this was a wild rabbit, not confined in any way--there was a good chance that this was an animal somewhat habituated to humans, and therefore in a poor position to exercise his ability to escape. I've watched a lot of animal-rights videos and I knew this was right up their alley: Mean ole hunter shoots a tame bunny.
I stifled a groan. Why this rabbit on this day?
And when he got close enough, I shot him.
You can read the full story here at Shotgun Life – including exactly what the filmmaker caught on camera – but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would your decision change depending on the presence or absence of the filmmaker? Did I make hunters as a group look bad?
I’ll kickstart the conversation by saying this: One of the reasons I’m ridiculously honest in all aspects of my life is that it’s easier to be honest than to perform perpetual maintenance on lies and omissions. When I first started hunting, I wasn’t so open, but I quickly learned that lying or even holding back about any aspect of the hunt only cedes points to anti-hunters in our great ongoing debate about hunting.
So now I’ve had my say. What say you?
Holly Heyser is a hunter, forager, writer, photographer and college journalism lecturer who lives in Sacramento, California.