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Feeling the love


A wise newspaper columnist once advised me to learn to revel in and love the ill will of the righteous. On second thought, maybe he wasn’t so wise, but he regularly encountered the wrath of the indignant. But following his logic, readers really showed me the love a couple of weeks ago after I said I wished the kid who shot the Albia buck had dropped his rifle instead of that magnificent creature.

A few people wanted to know what planet I’m from. Earth, obviously. But beyond the obvious, I come from Northwest Missouri, where hunting is a fall ritual. Each of my three brothers hunted at one time. One of them told me he quit because he couldn’t rid from his memory the look in a rabbit’s eyes when caught in the sights of his gun.

At least one reader related to that. He said he shot his first buck in Southern Iowa in 1953, but gave it up a few years later and said he would not have the stomach to kill one today. “Perhaps we can, as you suggest, establish a paradigm of trophy hunting with a camera. … Your reasoned approach can change trophy hunting.”

Someone else wrote, “The thing that struck me first … was, ‘Wow, is she going to get a ton of negative mail from the hunters.’ I wondered how much really vile stuff you might get. Threats and such …”

But he gave me points for speaking my mind without fear of the backlash. “I wish more people would do the same,” he wrote. “The reality should be that next time any of us see or hear something equally bad or worse – anti-Semitism, racial discrimination, anti-gay rhetoric or anti-whatever – speak out on that, too.”

But mostly readers declared -forgive the pun – open season on me.

“… All your groups do is lie and accuse,” one reader wrote. “You have never put up any money to aid in the benefit of wildlife. You are taking money away every day that we put in to help wildlife. Because we have to use money to fight your stupid laws you keep trying to bring up.”

I am not sure what groups he was referring to. I was a dues-paying member of Pheasants Forever for a while when I lived in Southeast Iowa. I liked what the group does to restore habitat for wildlife.

“Quite possibly the most ignorant editorial I have ever read,” another reader wrote. “One hunter does more for habitat and wildlife conservation than 1,000 PETA supporters like yourself. Your New Age view on hunting is as ignorant as it is sickening.”

I about choked on my T-bone on that one. (Dear Daddy up there in heaven, where providence surely has provided a few Angus cattle for you to gaze upon through eternity, rest easy for I am not now, never have been and never will be a puppet for PETA.)

My favorite of the bunch came from a guy who said he “seriously tried to be more civil.”

“Why in the hell do you continue to print negative stories about a situation that you have absolutely no expertise in?” he asked. “Especially by overeducated, anti-hunter woman reporters.” I’m trying to be civil here, too, but I’m wondering: Is an overeducated woman reporter one who studied past eighth grade?

Being an overeducated, anti-hunter woman reporter, I wasn’t about to take Outdoors Dan up on his offer to appear on his Sunday night program on WHO radio. Nor was I eager to get into the fray on Jan Mickelson’s morning program a few days ago when he and Outdoors Dan tried to work listeners into frenzy over the column.

The final tally was two letters for the column and six against it. I’m just happy those were words and not real bullets the detractors were firing at me.  

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