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On Killing: A Letter from Editor David Draper

As an editor, I understand more than most that words matter.

On Killing: A Letter from Editor David Draper

It takes killing to be a hunter. (Petersen's Hunting photo)

As an editor, I understand more than most that words matter. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when reader Karl Hansen recently took me to task for the use of the word “harvest,” which he spotted in another reader’s letter published in the Dec.–Jan. issue.

He writes, “…one ‘harvests’ potatoes, okra, corn, and other vegetation. If you’re hunting game and want to wind up cooking it, you first KILL [emphasis his] it. If you can’t use the expression that you either KILLED or SHOT an animal or other game perhaps a bit of introspection is in order?

As the son of a farmer, and lifelong hunter, I completely agree with Mr. Hansen about the word “harvest.” It’s one of my big pet peeves, and you’ll never catch me using it when talking about killing game. I believe it is a dishonest way to make people feel good about taking an animal’s life. The only reason that particular usage stayed in the magazine is “harvest” was the word the reader used, and I am not in the business of putting words in our readers’ mouths. Otherwise, I try to edit out every reference to “harvesting,” unless we’re talking about agriculture.

I do understand why some people prefer to use that particular word when it comes to taking an animal’s life. It’s whitewash. A way to make a difficult act more palatable and a politically correct way to talk about that difficult act without offending others. But, like most p.c. terms, the use of the word “harvest” is less than honest at best. At worst, it’s apologizing for an honest, legal act that doesn’t require absolution.

So let’s stop hiding behind language. Hunters would be better served to stand up for our actions and to keep them in the public eye, rather than sneaking around in the shadows. If you take an animal’s life, feel free to talk about it, but take the opportunity to educate non-hunters. Don’t take the easy way out. Instead, have the conversation about killing, however difficult it may be.

Speaking of difficult situations, it’s been hard to find any ammunition on store shelves in recent months. Long gone are the popular calibers, and now the shortage has moved on to even those already-obscure chamberings in dusty, old boxes that us oddballs always relied on finding in a pinch.

Social media is ripe with conspiracy theories on why all that ammo is missing, and much of the blame is falling on manufacturers. Some people seem to think ammunition companies are rationing the supply, which makes no sense. I know the leadership at every ammo maker, and they all have one thing in common: They like to make money. So why would they ration ammo? Instead, they are making it as fast as they can, even adding shifts and pushing their machinery to its limits to ensure as much ammo goes out the door as is humanly possible.

David Draper with his axis deer.

The reason you can’t find a box of .223, 9mm, or even .30-40 Krag is right there looking back at you in the mirror every morning. Even if you’re not hoarding ammo on purpose, you’ve probably grabbed a spare box when you happen to spot it on the shelf. I’m guilty of it as well, pinching two boxes of .25-06 American Whitetail just the other day, though I’ve already got four boxes at home. If a shortage of toilet paper marked the first half of 2020, the lack of ammo took us through the New Year, and shelves are likely going to be bare for months to come. To read more about the ammo shortage, and hear directly from the heads of Hornady and Federal, visit, where we take a deep dive into just what caused the most recent ammo shortage.

See you around the campfire.

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