Monday, November 5, 2012

Forest’s first hunting expedition

Shortly after Forest’s third birthday, he wandered out of the house moments after Aaron had slit the throats of two cantankerous roosters. Aaron’s face was sprayed with blood, and one of the roosters was still convulsing. Forest stayed with Aaron while he processed the birds, and he seemed unfazed by the death and gore. But after they came back into the house, Aaron saw Forest studying himself in the mirror and saying, “Now I'm different.”  Did Forest really see his first encounter with death as so significant, or are we simply over-laying our impressions on a random comment from him? Whatever the case, we never saw any signs that he was distressed by what he had witnessed.

Now, at just over four-and-a-half, Forest went on his first hunting trip last weekend. With enough time to make it home for lunch, 

Forest and Aaron trooped off into the woods behind the house to see if they could get a squirrel. When they came back, Forest was very excited to show me the squirrel they killed. He told me about how much fun it was and that he had spotted the squirrel. (To state the obvious, Aaron was the only one doing any shooting.) Then Forest ran off to play.
But that afternoon, he started acting out do an unusual degree, harassing his brother and me. At one point, I asked him if he was upset about the squirrel, and although he denied any concern, his expression said otherwise. I reassured him that people often found death upsetting and tried to get him to talk to me about what the hunt had been like. But all he could do was bat his hand at me while making a strange squawking noise that sounded like a distressed bird, as he tried to get me to shut up. He looked so stricken.

“We have upset him beyond his ability to communicate about it,” I informed Aaron, feeling like an inadequate, perhaps even awful, parent.

Thankfully, he has seemed fine since then. And yesterday, when he was supposed to go put out some traps with Aaron, he announced he had better indoor plans. I'm relieved he is able to figure out his own limits.

1 comment:

  1. You or Aaron should help him understand his own personal ethics around hunting. Personally, I won't hunt/kill predators (which seem to be brothers) or birds; I also won't trap unless I'm starving....but everyone is different and anyone needs a robust ethical development to be a hunter and to have a personal relationship with death.