I lived on a farm in Northern Indiana until the age of sixteen. Though we were as far as you could be from the toxic reality of today’s factory farms there certainly were plenty of animals raised that met their demise at the hands of various family and extended family members directly or indirectly. By indirectly I mean we sold and loaded plenty of animals into trucks that were headed for the local slaughterhouse.

I learned to kill chickens with an axe from my mother who emphasized not letting the headless bird flop all around and spray all the younger siblings and cousins lined up watching the slaughter with chicken blood. I was quite good at it. This is something I cannot for the life of me imagine myself doing today. Any backyard chickens that I might have in the future would live to ripe old ages dying from chicken heart attacks or falling prey to a local fox or coyote.

For whatever reason there were no hunters in my immediate family. There was one Uncle nearby who did some hunting but that was mostly for rabbits and pheasants.  I can to this day hear my aunt complaining about trying to get all the buckshot out of the poor rabbit before cooking it. She also made a delicious rabbit gravy as I recall and that was worth biting down on the occasional piece of buckshot missed in the cleaning.

The closest I can remember my dad ever came to hunting was one winter when he had hurt his back and was told, incorrectly in those days, that bed-rest was required to heal the sprain. The bedroom had a window that looked out over the backyard and onto a corncrib. This crib was made of fencing that allowed the grain to thoroughly dry out and not get moldy but still exposed the ears of corn. From that vantage point he could see rats scurrying about and munching away on all his hard work. So he took to shooting the varmints out the bedroom window with a 12-gauage shotgun missing more often that not.

I myself had a very short period of attempting to hunt rabbits around the age of 12 or 13 with a small caliber long gun I think that was called a 410-shotgun. Despite hours of traipsing through the snow no rabbits lost their lives at my hand.

Once we moved from Indiana to north of Chicago there was even less hunting by folks on our neighboring farms than there had been in Indiana. We were really only a mile or two from being Chicago suburbanites and random gunshots not something the neighbors would have appreciated.

There was a woman name Margaret though in the farm next to ours who I became fast friends with due in large part to our similar political views. We loved talking politics for long hours denigrating everything Republican. She did though have a very efficient way of killing chickens every spring. She would tie them up and suspend them by their feet, about a dozen at a time, from her clothesline. She would then quickly march down the line with a sharp butcher knife severing heads cleanly and efficiently. I know this may sound gross to you but do remember that the burger or chicken breast you enjoy today did not get to your plate as a result of the animal committing suicide.

As I began to get in touch with my queer nature, especially from age 16 on, anything to do with hunting or people who engaged in it really faded from my life. I know absolutely no other queer person I am aware of today who hunts. There is one straight man occasionally in my life who does hunt and that is for sport not a need for food. 99.9% of the animal killing for food these days is done in very inhumane slaughterhouses mostly by exploited immigrant labor far from our eyes. It then appears magically in the meat sections of grocery stores neat, tidy and wrapped in cellophane.

Harry Hay was a very adherent vegetarian for the entire 20 plus years I knew him and long before that. He was fond of saying, when asked about whether he ever ate meat or not, that it would only be if he personally knew the cow. This always seemed to imply also that one really should know intimately whom they are eating and that they had done the killing and butchering themselves.

I think this would be a splendid plan for all meat-eaters to do their own slaughtering. I imagine this would end much of the cruel factory farming and vastly increase the number of vegetarians and vegans. This would then go a long way toward saving the planet by helping to reverse global warming. Remember there is virtually nothing we as individuals can do to impact climate change more than to refrain from eating any animal product. Hunting these days should really only involve looking for a good sale on kale.

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