I don't think I ever really went hunting. I have vague memories of once standing on a deserted country road and my father helping me shoot a rifle at some old cans. I recall walking through the woods as my father shot squirrels and rabbits, but that's just about it.
At the time I didn't make the connection that the bloody, furry object on the ground had once been alive, just like it didn't seem to sink in what was actually going on when the headless chicken ran around the yard until it fell over dead in the bushes. I thought it looked funny and was proud of the fact that I was the only one small enough to crawl into the bushes to retrieve the chicken's body.
I went fishing with my father but neither one of us ever caught much. I think my father used fishing as an excuse to sit on the river bank by himself and not talk to anybody. I liked to prowl through the woods better than fishing. I never could keep the bait on the hook as I was casting the line. A few times I tried to convince my father to let me try to keep the fish alive as a pet after it had been put in the bait bucket on the way home, but he said no.
Then my mother died when I was 14, and Dad never went fishing again, never hunted and stopped raising chickens in the back yard. From that time forward the only dead animals we ate came from the supermarket, and at that point there was no connection between the slab of meat and anything that looked like it had been alive.
In the last few months a lot of movies have been coming out about the end of civilization, 2012, The Road and The Book of Eli among others. For some reason, just because the Mayans ran out of room on the big round stone for their calendar, some people think they were predicting the end of the word. I just think they were predicting the people in 2012 would need another stone for the next calendar.
In these movies we have people jumping in airplanes to fly off, swerving a lot in the air to miss collapsing skyscrapers, or people getting their trusty rifles, grabbing their kids and drudging down the road to someplace better, fighting off the barbarians along the way.
If we want to get biblical about all this, we could safely say the world was not coming to an end in 2012 because the prophets said no one would know when the Lord was coming back, something about a thief coming in the middle of the night.
But in the event all this apocalyptic talk were right, I began to wonder if I could ever go back to a mind set of being able to kill an animal to eat it. Could I ever be a hunter? Could I shoot the brains out of an animal? Could I slit its throat? I'm in the group of somewhat hypocritical eaters who love their meat but disdain the thought of killing the animals.
If civilization took a dramatic turn for the worse and we all became responsible for hunting or gathering our own food, I think I could turn vegetarian fairly easily. Maybe I could still behead a fish or two, if I were lucky enough to catch one in the first place.
And then I remember all the pills I have to take to keep the cholesterol down and my blood pressure down and to help me sleep, and to keep my acid reflux under control. If society collapsed, I couldn't afford, let alone find, the medications that are keeping me alive. Within a few months I'd probably die of a heart attack anyway, then I wouldn't have to fret that we'd all become barbarians.
In the meantime, I'll enjoy myself and go hunting for some bargains at the supermarket.
Jerry Cowling is a free lance writer and storyteller living in Brooksville.