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Hey Hunters, It’s Okay to Feel Sad After Making the Kill

All images by Brad Smith

For every hunter, killing an animal is the last thing we want to do. 

It seems to be so much more commonplace these days with how much social media has entrapped our lives, that opinions and beliefs of the few can spread like wildfire to the many. When it comes to hunting, we often hear that hunters are heartless or killing an animal is all they can think about. These same people say that the proof is in the hunting pictures that are posted and shared when the deed is finally done.

This belief that hunters enjoy the act of killing an animal could not be further from the truth. The act of hunting is so much more than just the final part of the animal harvest. Logically, the harvest has to happen in order for one to have actually hunted, but it is the part of the experience that most, if not all hunters, secretly dread.

Justin Malchow

The whirlwind of emotions that take over the hunter’s heart and mind after pulling the trigger is a highly personal experience. It’s different for every hunter, but it’s always there. It’s the realization of the final act. Taking a life is something that can’t be undone. Even for a deer, turkey, or squirrel, it’s still a life. When it is done, the season is over. Normal routines resume, and for another year, that final act is what we will remember.

I have little regard for a person that shoots an animal with no intentions of bringing it home for food. A hunter has more integrity than that. A hunter eats what they kill. A hunter understands the balance of life, the necessity for harvest quotas, the risks of overpopulation, and the pain, even if ever so slightly, that they will inflict on their prey before it expires by their hand.

It is with this in mind that hunters have to be experts at their craft. Sloppy shooting and risky shots do not belong in the hunter’s code of ethics. If an animal can’t be dispatched quickly and as painlessly as possible, then the shot should not be taken. We owe it to our quarry as hunters, and as men.

Brad Smith

If a picture could be taken of the hunter seconds after their killing shot was fired, a whole different aura of hunting would be on display. Remorse, guilt, and sadness would be captured in every image.

It’s only well after those thoughts have been buried in the hunter’s mind that pictures from the field are actually taken. It is these pictures that are often seen by those around us. By then, the negative emotions have passed and the joy of the entire experience of being a hunter and a provider have taken over. It is for this reason and this reason alone, that we see a hunter smiling.

It is okay for a hunter to feel sad after killing an animal. We are all only human. However, for a man to hunt and be involved in the act of killing an animal and not feel at least some remorse, they should put down their gun and never hunt again.

For them, the spirit of being a hunter has been lost forever.


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Hey Hunters, It’s Okay to Feel Sad After Making the Kill