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March 28, 2013: Shooting Moose

I wasn’t going to write yet another dispatch on the subject of moose. But just moments ago, as I was looking out the window, a large female came into view. She cut a wide swath across the yard as she mowed down some tall brush. She was very active. This is the time of year when moose are most ravenous. I took this as a sign of sorts, to write about something that’s really been bothering me. I really wanted to let the matter drop, but I kept coming back to it.

Even doing that yoga deep breathing thing, and letting go of certain thoughts

didn’t cut it. So I did what I had to do, which was to write a letter to the Frontiersman newspaper editor. Here I’m being critical of the reporter and the person who chose to run an accompanying photo. What I finally decided was that perhaps this might make us all a bit more astute about gun safety issues. My letter reads as follows:

In the March 24, 2014 issue of this newspaper there was an article by Greg Johnson entitled “Out and About: Families find fun, common ground at Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show.” Underneath is a photo of a young boy and perhaps his father or a friend. Nine-year old Norman Godfrey is taking aim at a video set up at the 2013 Outdoorsman Hunter Information and Training booth. There, before him, on the big screen, is a moose crossing the highway. The large male is obviously a trophy specimen – he has a full rack.

Reporter Greg Johnson notes while most enjoy the feeling of scoring a good hit on a moose or caribou, 9-year old Godfrey confessed that he was trying to miss.

“I like moose” he said, adding that while at the simulator “I try aiming for not the moose, but it always gets in the way.”

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, several things. The first is that a nine year old, who isn’t all that gung-ho on shooting moose, is being encouraged to take aim. This is coercion, not hunter safety.

Secondly, the statement “it always gets in the way,” is akin to the line in the song about the Titanic, “that an iceberg hit the ship.” One could easily deduce that as with the Titanic, that nature is putting something dangerous in our path. This does not bode well for our relations with our local animals. Instead, it infers that we as Alaskans would, if given the option, rather shoot moose than create migratory pathways for them. Maybe this is what Godfrey would prefer doing with his time.

Thirdly, the moose in the simulator is crossing the highway. Isn’t shooting animals on the road illegal? Wouldn’t it be better to have an image of a moose in the woods on the simulator? And so why run this photo in the paper?

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, this photo is in poor taste given that most recently, 20 children and six adults died in a mass shooting. How quickly, it seems, we forget.

So that’s my letter to the editor. I could easily have said more. Like about how a city planner got a huge grant, for the purpose of doing green infrastructure planning – and how this project just fell by the wayside. Or I could have written about how a local borough official said in a public meeting that he would like to see more weapons manufacturers move to our area. Or I could have written about the recent gun show, and how the Frontiersman gave it and NRA supporters a great deal of press. No, I instead decided to keep things simple and focus on the problem with the photo and quoted material.

As far as gun use goes, attitudes about use and disuse have to change. I just have to wonder – that good feeling you get when you score a good hit on a moose or a caribou – is it the same feeling you get when you score a good hit on a human being? I hope I never find out.

Next: 88. 3/30/13: Burning Daylight