Home Opinion Don Mallicoat The Last Bite

The Last Bite

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By Don Mallicoat –

We just missed an important holiday. How many of you hunters out there celebrated Saint Hubert’s Day on November 3rd. Don’t know who Saint Hubert is? He is the Patron Saint of Hunters. Saint Hubert’s Day is celebrated by hunters across Europe and in some places in Canada. Thousands of hunters congregate on this day all across Europe to celebrate the Mass of Saint Hubert where churches bless them and their dogs. Shooting competitions are held and trophies are displayed. I wish we celebrated the holiday here. In fact I wish we had more hunting traditions like they do in Europe. You see, there the harvest of game is all about the animal, not the person who shot it.

While stationed in Europe back in the 90s I obtained my German hunting license so I could experience the sport I enjoy in another culture. I had several opportunities to pursue and kill game animals, primarily chamois in the Southern Alps and the diminutive rehbock that inhabits the forests throughout Europe. Each time a hunter harvests a large game animal there is a simple ceremony at the site of the harvest. The hunter breaks off a small evergreen branch and puts it in the mouth of the animal. The guide, or Jagermeister, breaks off a small branch from the same tree, wipes it in the animal’s blood, and sticks it in the hat band of the successful hunter. He then shakes his hand and says “Weidmansheil” (hunters congratulations) and the hunter responds “Weidmansdank” (hunters thanks). It is a simple ceremony in honor of the harvested animal.

What do we do here in the U.S.? Video cameras roll as hunters pump their fists in the air, high five each other, or even worse chest bump each other over the fallen animal. It’s all about the hunter. Oh there’s talk about what a magnificent animal it is but it always turns back to how hard the hunter worked to kill the deer, elk, sheep, etc. Privately we may stroke the fur of the deer or smooth the ruffled feathers and admire the beauty of the grouse before putting it in our game bag. But do we ever thank the animal for giving itself to us? I doubt one in a hundred hunters ever think in those terms. Although my heart is in it, I don’t always do it myself.

Think how it would strengthen our hunting fraternity, and maybe weed out the bad apple, if every animal we harvest was honored in a similar way. It doesn’t have to be ceremonial, but what about just looking down at the animal and saying “Thank You”. Maybe a silent word of prayer of thanks before we hold up that massive (isn’t that always the term we use) rack on the deer to mug for the camera? I believe if each hunter did this simple act we would more greatly appreciate not only the wild game we pursue but also the hunting heritage we enjoy in the United States.

Well, the election is over and as we expected there is a looming threat to our 2nd Amendment rights. Within twenty-four hours of declaring victory President Obama had his representative at the United Nations ask that the Small Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) we’ve mentioned before be brought back up for a vote. Coincidence? I think not. I’ve always said he would not go after gun rights in a frontal assault through Congress. That’s not his style. The UN ATT is the mechanism by which he will try to restrict gun purchases and ownership.

As a gun store owner I can tell you business has been brisk since the day after the election. Many models of firearms, particularly Modern Sporting Rifles (a.k.a. Assault Rifles whatever that is) are selling fast throughout the country and are increasingly difficult to find with wholesalers. Ammo for those rifles, 5.56/.223, is flying off the shelves and either doesn’t exist on is limited in quantity with wholesalers. So far we’ve not seen a significant increase in handgun sales nor bulk ammunition for it. But I will tell you there is a lot more traffic looking for guns and asking questions even among first time purchasers.

I believe gun and ammunition sales will be continue to be brisk, to say the least, for the next few months. Which means supply will not keep up with demand and there will be shortages of popular guns and low cost ammo. Let’s just say it’s going to be an interesting few months in the firearms industry.

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