Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2004

Life Lites

Hunting really about gathering meaningful relationships

December 9, 2004

One of the few things in life I have yet to indulge in is hunting. I grew up with a culture that does not embrace hunting. The reason for that is gun control. If you are an avid hunter and those of you who are against gun control, I suggest you sit down as you read the following.
Firearms of any kind are prohibited in Malaysia. It is estimated that less than 1 percent of the civilian population owns any form of firearms. A very elite and select few have a license to possess firearms under very strict guidelines. Possession of unauthorized firearms is considered a major crime and can bring on the death sentence.
Are you still sitting down? I'm not very well versed in the history of why it is that way, but in many Asian countries, such is the law. Speculations are that it was enacted to maintain the safety of the citizen by outlawing the possession of firearms.
As such, hunting was never a part of my life, as was the occurrence of drive-by shootings. But that didn't prevent many of us from secretly fantasizing the thrill of shooting a gun.
I never understood the allure of hunting, especially in the winter. What would possess someone to go out in the cold of winter, sit and wait for hours, just to take shots at a deer? The same goes for geese or duck hunting. Why would anyone hide in swampy and cold conditions just to shoot ducks or geese? I can get duck, Peking style, with much less effort at a Chinese restaurant. I always thought that people liked to hunt because of the thrill that is derived from killing an animal.
Shortly after I arrived in America, a friend of mine knew that I had never shot a gun and asked if I wanted to give it a try. I remember vividly when I first held the gun. The excitement was almost paralyzing. My hands were trembling, my heart was racing, my palm got dam, and in the back of my mind, I was ready for cops to swarm and arrest me. I have never felt a stronger, simultaneous contradiction of emotions then when I first held that gun. My first shot at the tin can didn't hit the target, but I will forever remember that moment when I was enveloped in fear and exhilaration.
During the years I have had a few chances to shoot a gun, but to this day I have never been hunting. Every time I hold a gun, I am still gripped by the crippling fear of being apprehended by the strong arm of the law.
To find out why hunting is so appealing to many, I asked the owner of my company to share his thoughts. Kevin is an avid hunter and I asked him what it would have been like to grow up without having the opportunity to hunt. Without haste, he said that there would have been a hole in his life.
I was initially taken aback that such a trivial activity would leave such an impact on his life. But as he explained, I finally understood the allure. Kevin has been hunting since he started hunting with his father as a kid. It was a bonding time as his father taught him to be responsible with firearms and also a respect for property. Kevin passed those lessons on to his son when they went hunting.
I realized that hunting had spoils beyond the kill. Kevin and his son have spent countless hours together in the woods, just like Kevin and his father did. That must have created a special bond between him, his father and his son. I have seen him interacting with his son, and you can tell the friendship they have for each other. I think those hunting trips brought home more than the hunted.
I also realized then why my father-in-law still makes time to go hunting with his son. Or why my teenage neighbor Madison often goes hunting with her grandfather. The endearing moments and memories that can be savored years down the road are probably cultivated in the hours before the first shot is ever fired.
Looking back, I'm saddened by the fact I didn't have the opportunity like them, to go hunting with my dad when I was growing up. Kevin continued to recount the story of when he took his 70-year-old father hunting last year. He said that for a man who is not able to walk very much, spending time in the woods with him and all his friends gave his father more satisfaction than anything that money could have bought.
I began to see clearly that hunting was not about shooting animals.
We hear of the horrors of a few irresponsible hunters like the one in Wisconsin, but he is an exception to the men and women who cherish the sport more than the use of firearms or killing an animal. When my dad comes to visit, he yearns to go hunting. For he and I, it is the thrill of doing something that we weren't allowed to do.
But for people like Kevin and his dad and son, my father-in-law and his son, Madison and her grandfather Joe, and to all of you who take their children hunting, I understand now that the time spent together in the field transcends the act of hunting itself.
I have a newfound respect not only for the sport, but also for the individuals who indulge in the sport to enhance relationships and create memories for a lifetime.

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