The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
Instagram

The goddess of the hunt comes to town

 The goddess of the hunt comes to town
The goddess of the hunt comes to town

The goddess of the hunt comes to town

A gun is a tool, not a weapon. The side of my 20-gauge shotgun bears the etched name “Athena,” the mythical goddess of the hunt. The stillness is broken only by the lowing of cows in the distance, who will share the dove’s fate by far less noble means. A ripe sun has finally risen, warming the chilled landscape one breath at a time. The sky is clear and deep and blue. Birds dart serenely between mangled-looking mesquite trees and trembling sunflower patches.

“Blood will rain from the sky! We will wade knee-deep in the vanquished bodies of our prey!” my father shouts, only half in jest. This is his prayer, his dance to the gods of the hunt, that our aim may be straight, our hands steady. At home I will be faced with the processed bodies of birds imprisoned all their lives, their flesh staring sickly and pink from under Saran Wrap and glaring lights. Here, a dark bird soars over us that knows no concept of death.

He takes aim and fires. The body of his kill sails gently to earth, falls noiselessly in a puff of feathers. It flaps its good wing dispassionately, its cooing barely audible. With the loving hands of a seasoned parent, my father tenderly, delicately, breaks the bird’s neck and removes the head from the still warm body. I will kill nothing today, but I will remember vividly the day I did.

“Now the wings,” my father’s gentle instruction. I twist the tiny limbs from the torso, feeling threadlike cartilage snap. The heartbeat, frantic and rhythmic seconds ago, slows to stillness in my hands. “Put your thumb here …”

In a single motion I remove the bird’s breast and deskin it, leaving me holding only a tiny, warm, dark brown ounce of meat. There is no blood. The remains lay in a small heap on the dirt, unrecognizable carnage now. They will be picked at by scavengers and, finally, reabsorbed into the red-brown Texas soil. We will eat everything we kill. Years ago I was astonished at this melodrama of the food chain being played out in my hands. Now I pull the bird apart with as much nonchalance as if I were peeling a banana.

A gun is a tool, not a weapon.

Chickens are genetically grown without heads, tomatoes the size of Buicks rot in pesticide-riddled vegetable graveyards, cooking involves a remote control and the notion of hunting for food bears no semblance of meaning to what it used to. Greasy, starched cholesterol nuggets are peddled in bleached cardboard containers, dinner comes out of a frozen sack, military technology is utilized in its preparation – and what the hell is high fructose corn syrup, and why is it in everything?

Our bodies are in revolt, and I can’t say I blame them. We’re stuffing ourselves with crap. At every meal you ingest plasticine, silicate, genetically mutated goop, which, upon extraction from its host, you would probably avoid like the proverbial plague. This crap coats your guts, disables your arteries, hardens your heart, and – I argue on observational data alone – cripples your brain.

Food is the music of the soul; we should treat it like art. This stuff feeds the body, which is the vehicle through which you experience the world. Do you want your vehicle smothered in toxins and oozing animal hormones? Admittedly, I present this argument as a confessed Jack in the Box addict. But I’m slowly negotiating the road to recovery.

I’m not an especially big fan of hunting, nor I am especially comfortable with the whole concept of gun ownership. The amount of abuse that occurs involving firearms in our society is a testament to the fact that we are clearly not ready for the responsibility that the power of guns requires. But I grew up around them, and at the risk of appearing to betray my animal-loving, peace-spouting, liberal roots, I have to admit that I understand intuitively the dignified draw of their use in hunting. They allow us an opportunity to engage in an ancestral dance by which we participate in the world, in our own survival, rather than watching it happen around us.

We don’t need to hunt anymore. Indeed, there are those who absolutely should not, under any circumstances. We have our nourishment vacuum packed and sold to us through such miracles as refrigeration, hybridization and pasteurization. But when you come right down to it, we don’t need to eat animals at all anymore. Millions live perfectly healthy lives without ever touching meat.

For those of us who still wish to eat animal flesh (as primitive as it has become and however short lived its appeal may be), the choice exists, for some, between the processed, injected meat products that you buy at the grocery store, and living, breathing, warm moving bodies that you pluck from the sky, or the bush, or the ground. Who’s to say which is more uncivilized?

More to Discover