A funny thing happened today. I got into a little tiff on Facebook with Garnet Rogers over Brett Keisel. This is particularly amusing to me because both men have inspired characters in my books. In the Acknowledgments at the end of The OldMermaid's Tale I thank the singer-songwriters who inspired the creation of Baptiste in that story and mention that I always imagined Garnet Rogers' voice when Baptiste performed. In my recently released The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt's Wood the hero, Oliver Eberstark, is a big man with a beard and one of the characters refers to him as looking like Brett Keisel – which he did in my mind.
This morning Brett Keisel posted a photo of himself with the buck he shot during hunting season in Pennsylvania on his fan page. Because I grew up in an area where most men (and some women) went hunting every year, I reposted the picture to my Facebook page for my fellow Pennsylvanians to see. Garnet Rogers, who is not only a brilliant performer but an outspoken advocate against domestic violence and the mistreatment of women, children and animals, saw it and posted an objection. We had a little discussion about it and it ended well but it did make me think. I personally doubt I could ever shoot a deer but I have never questioned the values of men like my father, brothers and nephews who did hunt and still do.
I grew up in a house full of guns. My Dad not only collected them but built them and my brother Jack made some of the most beautiful gun stocks you will ever see. Guns were tools that we were all taught to respect and use properly. They were a part of my life and I've always had a healthy respect for them. When the men in our family hunted their kill was brought home, properly dressed and provided much valued food for our family throughout the winter. I think there is something primal in hunting for a lot of men that satisfies a need that, if denied, might turn into something less productive. I don't know – that's just something I've thought about.
Recently, when I gave my Singer Featherweight sewing machine to my sister (who lives in Potter County, PA, a huge area for hunting), she told me that she was telling a couple guy friends about how much she loved the sewing machine and she said they both made analogies between her sewing machine and guns they owned. I had to laugh when she told me this because the same thing once happened with Mark when I first met him. I was telling him about something that involved one of my sewing machines and he did the same thing, told a story that involved one of his guns. I think there might be something inherent in women and their sewing machines that is analogous to men and their guns – some ancient, pioneering kind of thing that we can't rationally explain.
I've had other discussions with people who get upset about hunting and often those very same people have no comparable issue with fishing. I live in a fishing port – men here make a living by fishing. Recently, when someone posted a picture on Facebook of a 700 lb. bear that was shot in Pennsylvania, a local guy made a snide comment about it but that same guy would have had a completely different reaction if it was a 700 lb. tuna.
It is very true that the natural world is way out of balance and to those of us who live in densely populated areas the notion of hunting may seem barbaric. But for people who live where there are a lot more deer and bears than humans and looking out of your window and seeing the wildlife gobbling up your garden is common, hunting seems like a good way of maintaining the balance. Especially if what is hunted is then used for food.
I liked Brett Keisel's picture and I love Garnet Rogers' music so for me it was all good. Here. Enjoy:
Thanks for reading.