Guest Post: Leslie Ketner

Guest Post

My First Bird, Leslie Dunne Ketner

Leslie Ketner

Leslie Ketner

The first time I ever shot a bird it was a dove.

I was on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the early ’90s. It was opening day, and I sat excitedly on a bucket in a field of sunflowers.  My husband and our yellow lab, Berkeley, were in another row of sunflowers. 

As the birds started flying, I looked around to track my fellow hunters, showing caution on my first attempt to shoot something other than an orange clay. All of a sudden a dove was flying a nice left to right pattern.  It was pretty far off, but I mounted my side-by-side 12 gauge and  boom, it dropped in another row of  dried flowers.  Being new to this, I wasn’t sure of the protocol on when to pick up my bird.  I sat down on my bucket, my heart racing, when I realized a man had retrieved my dove and was walking toward me.

I met him half way and he said “Great shot. That was a long one.”  Thanking him for the bird and the compliment I went back to my bucket, with the dove at my side. I kept staring at it, wondering and hoping it was  really dead and not wounded. It was. 

I started thinking about the fact that I took a life.  A thought that I’ve never taken for granted. And as we cooked some amazing dove poppers in the post-hunt celebration, I realized the profound goodness in hunting.  Yes; I took that life, and other doves too. We all did. But I’m a carnivore. And how much more honest is it to kill your own food, taking full credit for that bite of bird (or other game.)  And what a better life to be free, flying, enjoying God’s nature until you’re shot, than to be a caged, farm-raised mass-marketed animal.  Since that day, I’ve shot many doves, quail, ducks, pheasant and one Christmas goose. And I am always sure to think about what I’ve done. And the honesty behind it.

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