Squirrel Hunting

“The quality of mercy is not strained. It falls to the ground like the gentle rain.” – William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

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The best way to shoot a squirrel is with a camera. When I was a young man I used to hunt squirrels with a 12 gauge shotgun. Now that I have grown older and have been influenced by Buddhism I have lost my taste for killing.

Once, when I was a teenager visiting my grandfather’s farm in Kentucky, I was out early one morning  with the shotgun. As I came upon the grainery in the early morning mist I noticed a motion just to my right. A groundhog had just climbed a fence post and was sitting on top of it just as pretty as you please.

Well, I drew a bead on the varmint and slowly cocked back the hammer of the single action shotgun. I had him in my sights and I wrapped my finger around the trigger and took a deep breath as I prepared to pull the trigger. But something happened at that moment. I began to think about what a cute little feller he was and he was well known to the family and everyone would be unhappy if I shot the creature.

I looked down the barrel of the gun and in my minds eye I shot the groundhog but I could not bring myself to actually kill he beast.  I slowly applied the web of my right thumb to the cocked hammer of the gun and gently released it to the non-firing position. The ground hog ran off to live another day.

I had an epiphany that day. One might say a moment of clarity. And I learned a valuable lesson that day about the use and abuse of power: It is more powerful to exercise mercy  by granting life than it is to execute an innocent creature who only wants to live as much as you do. I never killed again after that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Squirrel Hunting

  1. There’s a big white space after your conclusion. Was there to be another picture there?
    As for killing, I only once attempted to kill a critter, instead I yelled for my husband to. For good reason mind you. I had lost far too many of my chickens to various predators, but this one got caught after he/she tried to get my only rooster. It managed to tear his entire tail off, leaving him bleeding but still alive. By then I’d had my share of loss, so this possum had to die. I did try to avoid doing that by fencing them in completely, top, bottom and all around, but possums have amazingly razor sharp teeth that can cut through wire. Yes wire. So call it self defense.
    I don’t mind my cat Chloe picking off a gopher or two now and then either, but that’s her, not me.
    So the best I can say is, I will kill no critter for sport.

    Liked by 2 people

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