Psalm 50:10-11 “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”


As I write this, I’m at my cabin in central NH for some Sabbath time.  It has been unseasonably warm for November in New England and the days have been sunny and clear.  On such days I can’t wait to take my dog, Ruckus, and go out for a long walk…enjoying the woods and the river and the glories of creation that are not visible when leaves are on the trees.


Yesterday Ruckus and I set out with great gusto down the road.  After we had gone a little ways I saw a couple of trucks by the side of the road.  There are no houses there, but my neighbor has some property for sale and I thought they might be checking it out.  But then another truck pulled up.  Three men got out of the truck.  They were wearing orange vests, and they carried guns.  My heart sank, and my large, deer-colored dog and I turned around and came back to the cabin.  And so it continues today, the peaceful sounds of nature punctuated by the harsh sounds of gunshots all around me.


I don’t understand it.  What makes a person wake up on a glorious fall day and say, “My, what a perfect day to go out and slaughter God’s creatures!”  I understand when a person is driven by hunger to feed a family or the need to protect those near and dear from predators.  But why is it fun to kill a deer, the animal that represented gentleness to the Native Americans?  “I just like being out in the woods,” some of my friends say.  Well, so do I…but I manage to be out in the woods quite frequently without shooting anything.  “The herd needs thinning or they will starve,” say others.  Aside from the fact that God has already planned for that with wolves and panthers, no hunters I know are hunting for the diseased fawn.  They want the big buck…and taking the strongest only weakens the herd in the long run.


And what’s with the alcohol?  Why is it that after the hunters leave the woods are littered with empty cases of beer?  It’s against the law to drink and drive but it’s okay to drink and shoot guns?  Great.  Sure makes me feel better.  And is the joy of walking in the woods made more pleasurable by hearing the crunch of beer cans underfoot?  I don’t see how any of this is an appreciation of the environment.


“Every animal of the forest is mine,” God says.  Are hunters asking God’s permission to kill God’s creatures?  I have my doubts. 


Yes, this is a rant of sorts.  My heart is broken.  I stay in on a glorious day because my eyes well up every time I hear the sounds of death.  It feels as if those men in orange vests are hunting my family, and I am powerless to stop them.  Seeing a deer in the yard at dusk is a thing of beauty to me.  It reminds me of the wonderful diversity of God’s earth and the grace of Creation.  Why do otherwise kind and generous people lust for their blood?  Why not walk in the woods and shoot them with a digital camera?  Why do we condone an industry devoted to killing as a sport?  What does that teach our children?


Ruckus isn’t happy staying inside so much.  But to a guy with a gun drinking beer, he could look like a deer pretty easily, and I’d rather have him unhappy than dead.  And hey, if Dick Cheney can mistake his friend for a dove, I can’t say I feel all that safe out there either.  The hunters want their freedoms.  Do they know how much their freedom has compromised mine?  Do they know who owns the beasts of the forest?


Come quickly, Lord Jesus, and save your creation.  Amen.



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