His & Hers: She shoots a gun, he aims a camera

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller use this space to offer their views on everyday issues.

SHE SAID

It would have been more peaceful to take a crying Dawson. That's what I was thinking as I perched statuelike in my blind and listened to the creaking and popping noises of Bob shifting his weight and stretching his legs behind me.

"Pssssst!" I pointed out the doe that had meandered within 20 yards of the blind. Rattle, clank, rattle. The sound of a tripod being hurriedly set up.

"Don't you dare take a photo now," I hissed. Too late, the doe's tail flew up in a fluff of white and she was gone, along with whatever might have been following her, no doubt.

"What did I come for if I can't take pictures?" Bob asked. I clearly did not marry a hunter.

Before we saw that particular doe, I heard Bob playing with his camera.

"Weehhhhhhherrrrrrrrr. Erhhhhhhh." This was not a natural sound, and I wanted it gone from the blind as soon as I heard it.

Later that morning, after returning to my parents' house sans deer, I casually asked Bob, "Um, were you planning on coming with me this afternoon?"

He hesitated, so I plunged on, "Because you don't have to. I mean, I don't think there's room for both of us in that blind."

My solo afternoon hunt was much quieter (Bob stayed home to watch Dawson). Still no deer, but the elements were not on my side. Plus, I have one basic rule: I avoid killing anything smaller that what I already have hanging on the wall. Predictably, that becomes more and more difficult as the years go by.

I'm the only person in my family who actually enjoys sitting in a blind to hunt. My dad is what I call a fidgety-widget. He can't sit still. My brother doesn't really enjoy hunting unless there's a lot of action. Bob just wants to take pretty pictures. So that leaves me, the only one content to sit for four hours with temperatures in the 20s and the wind blowing a tunnel between my ears.

Granted, I drew a line when chunks of ice started pelting my face Saturday, but there's not much else that could make me budge.

"Don't you think it's more challenging to take photos of deer than to shoot one," Bob asked that evening over supper (fried pork, since there was no deer meat).

My dad and I just gaped at each other. Clearly, I didn't marry a hunter.

HE SAID

Callie's right, she didn't marry a hunter. I shot and killed an eight-point buck my second year, and that was enough for me.

It wasn't my thing. There is a certain amount of excitement when that buck starts crossing the field and you find him in your scope. But the act of the killing didn't suit me. Nor did the act of cutting out the deer's intestines, a morbid and undesirable act to a guy who didn't grow up in a hunting or livestock family.

That doesn't mean I'm a spokesman for PETA. I think hunting is necessary to prevent overpopulation, which can result in starving or diseased animals. I also admire the skills it takes to hunt. But for me, the thrill was the sighting, not the kill.

And that's why I wanted to get up before dawn and head to the blind. Unless you have a mammoth zoom lens (which I don't unless I borrow one from my photographer friends), your lens will not reach as far as a rifle. Therefore I could argue that getting a dramatic, close-up shot of a deer is as challenging as hunting with a rifle. Bow hunters get a little more respect from me.

Callie is correct in her assessment that I cannot sit still for long amounts of time. My posterior gets achy after a while and I shift positions, which makes the chair squeak. I must agree that Callie did not marry a hunter. Just like I didn't marry a baseball fan.

Callie Clark Miller is the special publications managing editor for the Southeast Missourian. Bob Miller is Southeast Missourian managing editor. Reach them at cmiller@semissourian.com and bmiller@semissourian.com.

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