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Our Culture of Violence is a Result of Americans (So Far) Not Having to Face Reality

Here's something to grouse about

From there, I went on to shoot several other small animals, mostly birds, and looking back, I marvel at how I gradually lost any sense of remorse at having killed them. I didn’t shoot bluejays or larger birds, which I had respect for — just more nondescript songbirds — sparrows and the like. I had somehow hardened my heart when it came to them after killing that first one.

Then one day, I and this same friend, whose family owned a couple of shotguns, went out with two of those guns with the intent of shooting ourselves a couple of grouse for the coming Thanksgiving holiday. I think at the time I was probably around 14 years of age. We had no luck despite walking around in the deep woods all morning trying to flush one of the birds, though we did flush a great horned owl, which was spared only because I shouted out “owl!” just as my friend was about to shoot it in the excitement of seeking a large brown winged creature flying up in front of him. He pulled the trigger but had turned his gun away in time so that he missed it.

Shortly after that pulse-raising incident, I did finally flush a grouse. As it began to fly up and away from me, I fired my shot-gun. It was not a good shot, and I only succeeded in hitting it with a few errant pellets from the shell. It was enough of a hit to knock the bird out of the air, but it continued running through the underbrush. I began to run after it and heard a powerful explosion and felt a wind past my left ear. My friend, in his excitement, had fired at the running bird as I was chasing it, and nearly took my ear, or the back of my head, off!

Anyhow, I managed to catch the wounded bird. I picked it up, compressing its wings with my cupped hands, which quickly became coated in blood. As I held the frightened creature, it turned its little head frantically, seeking to find an escape. I began to cry as I held it, regretting what I had done, and not knowing what to do. A seasoned hunter might have just twisted its neck and put the little thing out of its pain, but I couldn’t do it. So I told my friend to reload and put barrel of his gun up against the back of the bird’s head and to fire while I held it. He did what I asked and I found myself holding a still, headless grouse, still bleeding, in my hands.

I was still crying, and was desperately wishing I had never shot it.

I tried to make the best of a bad situation bringing my unwanted trophy home, cleaning it, and trying to cook it for my Thanksgiving as if not wasting it would absolve me of my crime. My younger brother and sister, both animal lovers too, glowered at me as I attempted to pick out all the lead shot from the body. In the end I ate very little of my bird. Even the shot aside, iI had no appetite for my kill.

It was the last animal I ever shot. I lost interest in my gun too after that, and eventually sold it at a tag sale with no regrets.

story | by Dr. Radut