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Thread: a hunters musings on success....and all the death it inevitably equates to.

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Default a hunters musings on success....and all the death it inevitably equates to.

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    The willow patch wasnt very big as far as brush patches go. bout half an acre or so give or take. It was a good place to kill a bear and i knew that when i told Ed to shoot. He held his mustard till i gave him the go ahead, and at sixty yards let a solid initial shot fly with his 300. And thats when things went as they regualarly do when shooting brown bears...chaotic. Eds second shot hit the bear in unbeknownst regions and as the bruin turned for the brush i raked a quartering shot through from the last rib with the "ugly stick". Thats about the time the bear hit the afore mentioned willow patch. Having open ground surrounding the given brush a wounded bear enters is quite a bonus, and i didnt feel too worried about the whole deal. The whole deal ended up being anticlimatic (or "perfect" depending on which stance you take on such things...i'll go with "perfect" ) and after i found the mortally wounded bear trying to exit the patch i quickly dispatched it for good and after assuring death, called my ecstatic client over to rellish the beauty of his trophy.


    This excerpt from my last brown bear hunt this fall guiding season happened after over three months in the field (pretty sure i only got three showers in that time) five successfull brown bear hunts, two succesfull moose hunts, one caribou, and a sheep...one hundred percent on tags issued (the sheep was mine...my first, and very small, and one of my proudest moments, and most satisfying times with my dad in my life, but thats a whole different story) i guess what i'm getting at mainly is that during that three months i was the sole responsible person for the death of nine game animals. five brown bear, and seven if you want to include spring season. now i'm fairly young in this game...still wading through my first decade guiding hunters in this uncomparablely awsome state...but man. i can really say that the killing wore heavy on my psyche this season. i know, i know. it's what i do...and its completeing justified. i'll also be the absolute first to spout MANY reasons why sport hunting and the monetary value of our game animals is so dire to the conservation of said animals...i know all that. i beleive it too. STILL DOESNT MEAN THE KILLING DOESNT WEAR ME DOWN. if Ed hadnt been such a good sort, and didnt respect that animal he'd just taken as much as he did...well, hell, i mighta cried. i was really at the point at the end of that hunt, that i just didnt want to see another brown bear hit the dirt.

    as i write this i'm kinda torn in two peices...its not as if i have a choice. i'm a hunter. i didnt choose it, it chose me. theres nothing anyone could do to tear me away from chasing them once again as soon as they wake up this coming spring...but its the first time it's really gotten to me. and its a strong enough emotion to me to state it here on the forum...and to hear what others have to say on this subject. especially guides and trappers and hunters who get out and do it alot...wholesale killers if we're being incorrect politically. when everythings said and done, those bears and those two moose died for money. period. no apologies here for that, i make no qualms with hunting and trapping to support myself and fiance (by the way...i'm gettin married at the sci show in vegas this year...fitting for a guy *****ing about killing animals eh?) and even more ironic is that i'm headed back to the mnts for two months in a mere three weeks...to kill as many marten as possible (while keeping within my goal male to female ratio of course) and hopefully a few wolverine as well.........maybe these emotions are good. they keep the killing and the hunting seperate, and they make me feel a little less savage. not that i feel that's needed...but checks and balances are good right. i suppose when i dont care i'll quit. i've always said that if i dont retain that adrenaline and excitement that is so much a part of big game hunting then i'll quit...you can have the ugly stick and retire her when that happens....well now the same can be said for any hardening of the killing that i do...i dont want a hard heart to it...caring about those game animals makes us good hunters. it makes us wanna learn about them and utilize the resource in a way that'll sustain it. when i feel numb about the killing...welll....if that happens i'll quit for sure.

    these are just musings from a tired guide after a very long and rewarding season....by all means, throw all your pennies at me. i'd love to hear that i'm not the only one that feels this way...

    included are different angles of the above mentioned bear...amidst the willow patch and all.

    obviously i havent been on the forum in quite some time. old faces and new, i hope it was a rewarding season to all involved, filled with great memories and adventures...for this is why we gather, and this is the season we so long for all year.

    zack



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    Zack, I like ya, and appreciate what you bring here.

    People often ask me why I ain't smiling while sitting behind a dead animal. The truth is, I figure the critter ain't smiling, why should I be. Killing, taking life, that act in itself, brings me no pleasure, but is recognized more as a necessity of survival.

    Good hunting to ya...

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    Default I guess

    I guess it's all in where your head's at. Perhaps it's the immersion in it. Maybe a hunting trip to another state where the hunting is just about non-existant might put a brighter outlook on it?

    I grin and am happy after the harvest. All of the planning, expense, anticipation of the successful hunt, knowing that my freezer will be full enough of game meat to keep us through the year, it all adds up. The hunt, for me, is amazing. It's only a week, maybe two (or less) for most of us. We're behind a desk or behind the wheel. The fall crisp air is invigorating.

    It's not the killing that is the gleeful part, it's the success. I always this profound respect for the animal that I've taken. Usually, the larger and grander, the more thankful that I am for it, and the ability to participate in hunting and harvesting of our resource. There are so many who can't, or won't. Perhaps the ability to do so in light of ever shrinking hunting lands and ever growing forces to take away this rich heritage and food source could help with the feelings?

    It's awesome. I appreciate you guys who put all that time in to live the life and keep it going. I know your clients do too.

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    Hmmmmm..............

    Except for "Fur" I eat what I catch, or wear it , trade it or sell it.
    Theres so much more than just skins or meat, theres the uses one gets outta them and the $ that is nessessarry to get more.
    Animals a resource, like a tree, and yet quite respectable, they do , afterall live the Cold Violent Life 24/7. Theres nothing to me unnerving to killing anything for the right reasons, so I have no idea about your feelings.

    Does killing these animals for money bug you? does shooting and again finishing an animal and having someone still pay you for "their Bear" get to you? That might bug me, but Im bnot anyone but me, no judge of others.

    I hope you get over this soon, this Pathos your in should blow over, hopefully, and youll be normal again.

    Good luck!!!
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    Hmmmmm..............

    Except for "Fur" I eat what I catch, or wear it , trade it or sell it.
    Theres so much more than just skins or meat, theres the uses one gets outta them and the $ that is nessessarry to get more.
    Animals a resource, like a tree, and yet quite respectable, they do , afterall live the Cold Violent Life 24/7. Theres nothing to me unnerving to killing anything for the right reasons, so I have no idea about your feelings.

    Does killing these animals for money bug you? does shooting and again finishing an animal and having someone still pay you for "their Bear" get to you? That might bug me, but Im bnot anyone but me, no judge of others.

    I hope you get over this soon, this Pathos your in should blow over, hopefully, and youll be normal again.

    Good luck!!!
    ....hmmmm, no. the reason for the killing as i stated is completely justified...i believe in hunting of all kinds as long as the resource can sustain it...sport hunting actually being what gives back to our heritage and sport the most in my mind. so my musings have nothing to do with whether i think it's justified...i absolutely do. and i make not apologies. i'm just stating my feelings....like some **** greenie or something eh? dont worry stranger, i'm in no pathos...just realistic in conveying my feelings on a successfull season. hell i may not even outlive the rewards those animals bring to the families that will appreciate them on the walls. thats not my issue. and the killing for "money" as i stated it is in my mind just the same as if i needed the rug for warmth or the greasy bear meat for sustenance...its the same. its a resource and the reasons for obtaining it are not near as important as the sustainablility of it itself. totally different issue anyway. thanks for you input stranger. i always look forward to your viewpoint. ps...my feelings aside...let me make perfectly clear...THEY IN NO WAY TAKE ANYTHING FROM THE EXPERIENCE I OR THE CLIENT HAD IN PURSUING SUCH GRAND GAME ANIMALS.

    on that note....dont you feel it sometimes as well stranger?...or no? just wondering, i dont judge either way.

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    No, I do not feel that way, nor have I, 9 foot.......I rather enjoy the moment I pull the trigger, the results, and the preperation I go through to do it again.

    I make no apologies for making a living at this , either, and I refer to Patho's as your method of convaying your mood, via story, not by disrespect in any means.
    I hope your mood passes.

    As long as this feeling dosent take away from the experiance that your providing/immersed in with the client, then Im thinkin' you can refrain from professional help

    My only difficult to get with is this; I will shoot my own animals.
    Sport hunting is not my heritage, but with complete understanding that You are a Guide, with a client and sometimes this is a nessessarry to do such, under warrented circumstance, I understand. I would fall back on the "First strike" rule in hunting (not baseball) that he who strikes said target first, gets the largest share, and can claim such as his own, so fine with me. Everyone elses bullets are referred to as "Helping shots"

    Making money is a nessessarry thing, so dont feel bad, unless your doing it illegally.(wich I see your not doing that !~~LOL!!~~)

    Perk up, 9foot and carry on!
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Respect. That is what it comes down to. There was a time long ago when I wouldn't have anything to do with field dressing an animal. Can't honestly think of the catalyst that changed this behavior but I now greatly enjoy hunting and like to get out every chance I can. I still have a difficult time when, for whatever reason, the animal doesn't go down with the first shot. I even caught myself this summer saying a quiet 'I'm sorry' under my breath as I let a she-fish or grayling go from the hook. Respect, some have it. Many don't.

    Perhaps you have a subconscious fight going on as you realize how one person can be a part of so much death. I think as long as what you've said here is true, your mind will clear in due time. That's what long winters are for, right?

    On another note, this has brought up an issue that has been weighing on my mind recently. Why do some people need to keep track of how many of each animal they have ever killed? If asked some can tell you with certainty how many years they've hunted each and how many they've taken. Why? Is there a trophy at the end? Understandably guides will keep track of this info for securing future clients, but why the average hunter?

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    thats agood question...your last one. tony russ hits on the ego subject in regards to bears and bear hunting...he makes some excellent points, but I wont quote him...prowess, ego , pride...all of the above to an extent proly. a measure of experience might be a reason...I personally think I walk away from every hunt,succcessfull or not, abetter hunter...as long as I try and learn from what the experience has to teach...I dont think this act of keepin track is right or wrong persay...human nature I suppose. an interesting subject QUOTE=mod elan;1020412]Respect. That is what it comes down to. There was a time long ago when I wouldn't have anything to do with field dressing an animal. Can't honestly think of the catalyst that changed this behavior but I now greatly enjoy hunting and like to get out every chance I can. I still have a difficult time when, for whatever reason, the animal doesn't go down with the first shot. I even caught myself this summer saying a quiet 'I'm sorry' under my breath as I let a she-fish or grayling go from the hook. Respect, some have it. Many don't.

    Perhaps you have a subconscious fight going on as you realize how one person can be a part of so much death. I think as long as what you've said here is true, your mind will clear in due time. That's what long winters are for, right?

    On another note, this has brought up an issue that has been weighing on my mind recently. Why do some people need to keep track of how many of each animal they have ever killed? If asked some can tell you with certainty how many years they've hunted each and how many they've taken. Why? Is there a trophy at the end? Understandably guides will keep track of this info for securing future clients, but why the average hunter?[/QUOTE]

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    thanks for your input stranger...I wont debate the subject of backup shots and bears...its an understood in the industry that its ethical and totally about the bear at that point...rarely is any backup needed for other species...but we've beat that horse aplenty in the past. and make no mistake...I make no apologies and have no regrets for my performance...just stating whats on my mind among a group of hunters

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    Respect , in general for game animals has me thinkin' here...

    9foot, you referr to "Kill". Thats a very 'final' kinda word 'round here...........For folks I hunt with, to "Kill" is what you do to people, rabid dogs and mice.....no eating, no nothing from the hide, nothing gained.
    On the otherhand, they say "Catch" when referring to the animal............ when I askd first 'why catch, not Kill?" , and I was answered "If you treat the animals with their due respect, they will always be there, so were just Catching them, they will return." A rather spiritual way of looking at it, and in a more than one sense is quite correct, and further that with utilizing the meats , skin, antlers, ect. then the Catch was benifitial and life contenues. Like Money, its takes lives to make lives, and we are in essence, what we eat, we live, they die, and agin tomarrow....

    Guess thats a mindframe that keeps local folks here from being disrespectfull or disturbed when Doing Death.......but then again I live in a Hunting Society, just one of many who are better than I (I just write alot)
    As well, you never hear folks here say "Bou" or "Brownie" or "Swamp Donkey' or anything like that....its allways by the full and correct names. As well, its not said "My this" or "My that", 'cause it aint yers till its home.(Then the wife takes it ~LOL!~)

    My reference to the 'Backup shot' isnt a debate, I was just noting where I would differ, but prehaps you should just relax on the couch here and tell me all about it .........


    My point here is the mindframe from the start. Respect for Animals and people is as different as each persons view, and none exactly the same....With sport Hunting as a background, maybe its a different mind set.

    Certainly the mindset of the younger generation is changeing.

    Just my thoughts on this interesting subject. I think Pmac would be interested inthis subject too .
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Ninefoot - very good post my friend. What you are experiencing I think the majority of hunters go through for sure - especially as we age. These emotions are what make you human - although 3 showers in 3 months is a bit "Cavemanish" for sure!
    I used to trap a lot, and took animal numbers that run in the thousands - today I chose not to anymore as the sight of a critter in a leghold bothers me - this does not mean I have gone "Anti" at all - simply that I have filled that void in my life that I felt I needed to and have moved on. I also have had times where it bothered me to take an animals life that perhaps I watched too long - especially females, or yearling animals. There have been times I have watched a particular animal for several weeks - you know the odd "bond" one feels when you see the same one time after time, many times we "log" that one in the data bank for one of those "well, if I need to fill a tag deals" I have one in the back pocket!
    One thing for sure, I have REALLY worked hard to take 100% killing shots for several years now - I hunt for fun, and yes consume all the game I hunt, yet I do not need to kill so I make sure I make it as humane as possible...
    Mod elan brings up a good question as well - I have kept very accurate records of all my harvests - trapping and hunting - can't tell you why exactly - I share them with no one and can only say perhaps it tells me that I became the skilled hunter/trapper that I wanted to be by having a number beside every critter I sought out to get??? No doubt it takes a lot of skill to take a variety of game and if it were not for that challenge I think many of us would not do it?
    You should be proud of yourself for having good integrity and ethics - there is nothing wrong with caring about other living creatures.
    That does not make you a PETA poster boy - simply a human....
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    I know that heavy feeling at the end of a long and busy hunting season. I too want to lay down the rifle for a bit. It may be what drives folks to muzzy and bow hunting. After a protracted and busy modern firearm hunting career/existence (whatever) they want to make their killing more respectful.

    A keen stalk with and efficient dispatch is one of my greatest pleasures as a hunter.

    I can't really say what it is that weight heavy on me too this year?

    I walked through the woods this past week and thought about the bears that have died on my watch. It's a special thing to tread the ground of such magnificent predators.

    I'm not too proud to say it, I felt that gravity too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ninefoot View Post
    ...but its the first time it's really gotten to me. and its a strong enough emotion to me to state it here on the forum...and to hear what others have to say on this subject. . .
    When I first came into this country as a 20-year old boy over 50 years ago, I thought I'd like to shoot a brown bear. Until I saw one in the wild.

    I've hunted, mostly small game, and fished all my life. My wife and I ran Stephan Lake Lodge for a summer where I "guided" Germans and Swiss for kings on Prairie Creek. In the fall, I stayed on with master guide Nick Botner, the then owner of the lodge, and helped guide Americans for Dall sheep and caribou. It was during that summer, while out with some Germans, that I saw my first grizzly in the wild. That experience and my experience as assistant guide for sheep and caribou was formative in my perspectives on hunting and fishing.

    To my mind, hunting and fishing is simply what we are as humans. Whether with a gun or a rod or whether we pay the butcher and the fishmonger, we break the body and shed the blood of creation in order to live. That's the bottom line—we kill to eat, and because that's so, I think hunting and fishing should bind us to a place. Killing should be local, and we should kill only to eat, and in some rare cases, to survive. Killing should wed us to a place in the same way that marriage weds us to a long-term, covenanted relationship.

    I think killing for reasons other than food are something of a perversion of our nature and of our role as the dominant species, as lords of creation as it were. I think that traipsing around the world to catch this or kill that equally a distortion of what hunting and fishing are all about. Running down to the Baja to catch billfish or flying to Uzbekistan to shoot exotic sheep is analogous to a one-night-stand of sorts as opposed to the long-term, married relationship of killing close to home.

    So there it is. That's my take. And at 71, I'm less inclined than ever to kill anything.

    “I don’t guide anymore. . . . I hadn’t foreseen that it would demand the humility of a chauffeur and the complaisance of a pimp.

    “And I don’t seem to fish nearly as much as I used to. I have a dilemma these days: I dislike killing trout but I believe that, in order to fish responsibly, to fish conscionably, the fisherman should at least occasionally kill. Otherwise he can too easily delude himself that fly fishing is merely a game, a dance of love, played in mutual volition and mutual empathy by the fisherman and the trout. Small flies with the barbs flattened are an excellent means for allowing the fisherman’s own sensibilities to be released unharmed—but the fish themselves aren’t always so lucky. They get eye-hooked, they bleed, they suffer trauma and dislocated maxillae and infection. Unavoidably, some die. For them, it is not a game, and certainly not a dance. On some days I feel that it’s hypocritical to profess love for these creatures while endangering and abusing them so wantonly; better to enjoy the thrill of the sport honestly, kill what I catch, and stop fishing when I have had a surfeit of killing. On other days I do dearly enjoy holding them in the water, gentling them as they regain breath and balance and command of their muscles, then watching them swim away. The dilemma remains unresolved.


    “’Yet each man kills the thing he loves,’ wrote Oscar Wilde, and I keep wondering how a person of Wilde’s urban and cerebral predilections knew so god**** much about trout fishing.


    “Why do you live in Montana? people ask. For the trout, I answer. Oh, you’re one of those fanatical fisherman types? Not so much anymore, I say. It’s just a matter of knowing that they’re here.”

    —David Quammen, excerpted from "Seasons Of The Angler"

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    Nice post, Ninefoot; I'm really enjoying this thread. I think it's vital that we as hunters think about what we're doing and why we're doing it every time we stand over a dead animal. When the day comes that I no longer feel at least some flicker of sadness amongst the joy of a kill, I'll hang it up and start finding new homes for the guns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    On the otherhand, they say "Catch" when referring to the animal............ when I askd first 'why catch, not Kill?" , and I was answered "If you treat the animals with their due respect, they will always be there, so were just Catching them, they will return."
    When in Kaktovik in the late 1990's the ladies on the labor crew took off one afternoon in their skiff to go "catch" a few caribou as they were close to the coast and moving east towards town. I asked why they used "catch" rather than "hunt", but the ladies did not provide an answer. I think it was the case that I was the "Boss" and they were not comfortable talking with me.

    Thanks Stranger for the answer.

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    Stranger, I appreciate your perspective. I don't fully understand it, but I respect it. And I appreciate the respect you bring to the field and to this forum, by not referring to other creatures with disrespectful terms. We gave them names and we should honor them by using those names. I too believe the spiritual aspects of this are the backdrop of the whole thing. Knowing your place in this world, recognizing that the taking of life (or "borrowing", if you believe that) is not a thing one earns. It's a part of who we are. But, as Marcus said, to do it carelessly, or wantonly... I think there's something wrong with that. I have often told other hunters that saying hunting is all about killing is like saying marriage is all about sex. Truth is, hunting (and fishing) is really about a relationship. And that, my friend, leads to a much larger and more complex discussion.

    Marcus, those were excellent quotes. I am captivated by writers who can thoroughly reduce complex thoughts to simple terms. It's truly an art form. I especially identified with the Montana reference; at this point in my life I know that most of the wild places I came here to see will remain unseen by my eyes and untrodden by my feet. But it is enough to simply know that they're here. That said, there are still a handful of places I'd like to see; to sit around a few burning sticks and watch the northern lights play across the sky, to see another thicket of caribou antlers on a forgotten ridge line, and to watch a bull moose in a hidden valley while the river flows along to the sea. I know where I am going, but I will carry a lot of sweet memories of this place with me when I go.

    -Mike

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    Thanks for sharing your reflections ninefoot. I “hunt” or enjoy the woods year round and on one or two trips a year I am focused on trying to actually kill something to eat. When I have enough meat I go back to just enjoying wildlife and the wilderness. I would think that with guiding and the money involved clients and guides don’t get to focus on just enjoying time in the woods and instead are pressured to kill a trophy in a shortened time period. Gets too far away from Mikes reflections on just experiencing the time we get in the woods. That said, congrats on your excellent bear and on many once in a lifetime experiences for your clients this season!
    “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. “ Fred Bear

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    I shed no tear for the men that have fallen but still get a bit of water with game. Its life cycle to me and catch/harvest with thanks to a higher power.For me I can sit and watch and don't have to take the life but in your case you have to.What helped me was to put all critters in the same basket,bear=fish=martin.Most can claim its for substance that they take game and even Stranger will claim money as part of substance as its needed in this world to live.I much prefer to be in the field with you than a man that does not believe we are all in the same circle.All critters have some value but not all men do.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    My two cents...which by the way means no disrespect whatsoever...are that perhaps you are taking it too personal. I've noticed a trend among hunting guides that when talking about specific hunts, they often refer to their success...not the hunter's success. I can even see it in your original post on this thread. You talk about "my last brown bear hunt", and being the "sole responsible person" for the death of every animal taken in your camps this years, even though I doubt you put a bullet in every one. Many other times I've noticed in your posts, you often talk about your success, not the hunter's success. Again, in no way am I trying to be disrespectful, it's simply something I've noticed and don't really understand...but I've never been on a guided hunt either. Maybe someday.

  20. #20

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    ninefoot,

    Obviously, you're a successful guide.

    Everything you felt makes sense to me and at some point we would all feel that way at different thresholds where the killing obscures the hunting. Maybe it's 7 bears, 2 moose, 1 caribou and 1 sheep or maybe it's 5 caribou or maybe its 100. Everyone's a little different. Maybe sign up one fewer client each year and kill less until you find the right balance where the killing doesn't overshadow the hunting to the degree that you feel afer this season. Just my opinion, but I think if it makes you feel this way, you should lower your "harvest" until you didn't feel that torn up.

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