Semantics: hunting or shooting?

The neighbor lady saw me unloading dogs and decoys from my truck, and she hollered across the alley, “Did you catch any?”
I answered her and told her that yes, we did shoot some ducks, and told her I’d be happy to bring some over after they were cleaned. She said she’d love a couple.
I hear people talking about hunting all the time, and there seems to be a broad difference of opinion about whether we go hunting, or shooting. There is also some difference of opinion on whether we shoot, or kill, or harvest, a game bird.

I have always thought I hunted for birds like pheasants or grouse, or for geese or ducks, or big game. Hunting suggests work. Shooting to me implies that you didn’t have to do much work other than to operate the gun. That is why we offer dove shooting-we do the work, you do the shooting. Driven shoots in Europe are just that-driven shoots, not driven hunts. The emphasis for the shooters, or the guns, is in the shooting.

The word I do not understand is harvest. Hunters that have told me that they went out and “harvested” six ducks. If you harvested them, then you cannot be a duck hunter, you must be a duck harvester. I think that is the wrong way to approach hunting. You cannot harvest anything that you did not have a hand in planting or growing. My wife harvests radishes. I do not harvest mallards. I shoot them.  I’m sorry, it sounds harsh, but at the end of the day we are choosing to kill birds with the business end of a gun. It is harsh and it should not be taken lightly.

I think, semantically speaking, that it is acceptable for a wildlife biologist to talk about the “annual harvest of prairie chickens.” They are considering the killing or the shooting in broader, population or resource management terms.

It is all very quite interesting to consider.  Speaking of shooting, while I spend my time  bundled against the evils of winter, I’d vastly rather be in Cordoba, were it would be wonderful to be dove shooting right about now, with a warm sun, endless doves winging across the grain fields, and the smell of burnt gunpowder in the air. The reports from the last couple of months could not be better. Our programs there are challenging, welcoming, and superb. Remember, we do the work–you do the shooting!!


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