Support your clergy's conservation efforts
As hunters near and far set out into the wilderness in search of big game, we do so for a plethora of reasons. For some of us, it is the way we provide meat for our families and keep a healthy, fulfilling dinner on the table. Others do it for the sheer enjoyment and thrill of the hunt. Even more of us do so with conservation in mind. Ultimately, however, the vast majority of us probably do so for all of these reasons combined.
When hunting, it is important to remember that there is a purpose behind it. It is rare for someone to kill wastefully as the vast majority of hunters take a responsible, ethical approach. An example of such a hunter is Sister John Paul Bauer, a Benedictine nun from St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania. After her recent hunt yielded a 10-point elk weighing in at 200 pounds, she shared a picture of her harvest. Instead of being met with congratulations or even acceptance, the internet instead roared its disapproval.
Hunters everywhere harvest animals such as this all the time and no bats an eye. Yet here comes Sister John Paul Bauer, who by the way has a history including Navy marksmanship experience, and she is the source of disparaging remarks regarding an animal she responsibly harvested in the name of conservation, an animal that will go to good use as it’s meat is shared amongst several families in her area. Chances are those families will be extremely grateful to Sister John Paul Bauer as they are able to feast on elk sausage and steaks and will not have a single objection, just as the rest of her community likely won’t. The area is rich with hunters and the Sister herself has hunted herself for many years, harvesting a 200 pound bear in the past.
As she waits in her tree stand, the former Veterans Affairs psychologist and U.S. Navy nurse prays the rosary, which she considers to be a personal tradition. At age 60, she has invested a lot of time in her own hunting excursions after growing up in a family where her brothers and father were regular hunters. Her goal is conservation, to do her part to keep the deer population under control so they are able to sustain off of natural food sources and do not starve. When she raises her 30-30 Winchester and peers through the sights, you can bet her calm, collected trigger pull is not a hasty shot at anything that moves. Instead, she draws upon experience garnered in her 15 years of hunting and takes a responsible shot at a suitable animal just as the rest of us would.
Then on Monday she goes back to class at Elk County Catholic High School where she teaches theology in Erie County. She tells her students about the elk she harvested, the biggest of three bucks under her tunic, and is met with positive feedback. Why the internet can’t offer the same support may be a mystery to us as fellow big game hunters, but it is important to remember that our religious leaders have interests outside of the church. If those interests happen to include harvesting a 10 point bull elk with a 16 inch antler spread, then we should encourage rather than berate such impressive pursuits.