Hunting for me, like for all true hunters, has always been a spiritual affair. A time to walk alone through the wildlands and find balance, both outside and in. The stresses of living in our society, bills, business and demands upon our time, pale and fade. Deadlines, so important the day before, though still unmet, fall away, leaving me cleansed and heartened. This has been what hunting means to me and, I want to believe, to many others.
Perhaps this will all help to put into perspective a little incident that occurred when I was recently back in Saskatoon to visit family. I'd slipped into a sporting goods store to purchase an item or two, and while I was standing in front of a rack of gear, I heard voices talking in a different aisle. My name was mentioned, which I admit caught my attention, and then the three voices proceeded to regurgitate rumor after rumor. I apologize for eavesdropping, for in that I have sinned, but frankly I was dumfounded.
In my hunting, I've honestly tried to follow every rule to the letter of the law, to the point of paranoia. Those who know me will tell you that, and yet these three voices were destroying everything I've worked for, and they were doing it in front of my very own ears! Standing in that sporting goods store, listening to those three character assassins accuse me of everything from driving a Chev to sneaking into the queen's bedroom was one of the hardest things I've ever done!
At first I was upset and then angry. I wanted to have a personal chat with the guy who seemed to be the ringleader of the group, but that was only at first. As they yakked on about the stories they'd heard about "Jim Shockey" and the big buck he "bought, poached, picked up, stole and found in the ditch (depending on the version each guy heard), I realized that I was paying a personal price for sticking my head up and writing about my hunts. And when I realized that, I also recalled the rumors I'd heard in past years about other successful hunters who were lucky enough to take good bucks. Rumors that were totally unfounded, yet rampant, started by people who wanted to discredit the fortunate and mostly hard working hunter.
Just as suddenly, as I stood there listening to the voices, I felt a pang of regret, I'd been part of the rumor mill in the past. Upon occasion, I had passed on gossip about this or that hunter, unsubstantiated rumors that lived one mouth longer because of my insensitivity. In the past, I'd been just as guilty as the three who were enjoying their afternoon gossip session, and I felt sorry for that. Standing there, I vowed that I would never again be a part of such a hurtful pastime.
Unfortunately, it took my being the focus of the rumors to realize that gossip has no place in hunting.
It has no place at all.
-Jim Shockey, Big Buck Magazine, Summer 2002