Kickass, the doorstop dog, joins the keeper in retirement from hunting as a recreational activity; and now the keeper wonders at the large role hunting played over most of his life. In an exercise that generated excessive reminiscence, the keeper hauled his guns out of the closet recently for protective maintenance, and was left to ponder how using guns to kill lesser creatures consumed so much of his time and energy for so many years. Early on, as a wandering farm boy with a .22 rifle, the killing was wanton and dumb—even including a magnificent snowy owl and other inedible innocents. As a youth and through adulthood, the killing assumed the “sport” of shooting game birds and animals that became table fare. The kills were not always “clean,” and there are memories of long, drawn-out pursuits of wounded animals and downed birds that were never found. Such unpleasantness is part of hunting, and the regrets fade over time, but never disappear completely.
As one of the predators on top of the food chain, the keeper does not apologize for his killing history: it represents what he was and still is; and to try to deny such an identity would be fruitless and phony, like claiming moral high ground that does not exist.
The keeper wishes his family members and their friends well now as the hunting seasons consume them. His guns are back in the closet, and he is okay with that as he remembers the good times and tries not to think about the snowy owl and the deer with the broken leg.