Let me say this right now: I have no problem with hunters. I just don't like the idea of killing an innocent animal, so I personally will not do this. I realize this makes me a gigantic wuss and that I am neglecting important survival skills, but that's my problem and not yours.
--Erin Palette, "Hangin' with Oleg, part 3"
Erin posted that last night, as the second paragraph of a long post on her hunting trip with Oleg. I've been struggling with how best to answer it, as someone who's pretty passionate about hunting.
My first reaction is that this is a statement not many are willing to make. It's a very honest self-appraisal. It's not a criticism of hunters, or hunting as a sport or means of providing. I don't see someone who says, "No, I can't kill an animal," as a wuss, weakling, or vegetarian.
Most of us are brought up in a culture that insulates us from death. Death is something that happens in hospitals. Clean, sterile, quiet. Here; gone. Meat and death aren't related. Intellectually, we all know that the bacon cheeseburger (with extra bacon) that we're eating used to be a cow and a pig... but the process from barn to plate is often a pretty large grey area.
Hunting falls in that grey area. Looking through your sights at a living animal and pulling the trigger isn't easy. Some people don't want to do it - and that's fine. (Until they tell me that I shouldn't either; that's an entirely separate argument.) My parents aren't hunters - but they seem to enjoy hearing about my hunts. I don't Disney-fy my time in the woods for them, but I also don't give the same detail I might to a fellow hunter.
Parents version: It was a nice afternoon, occasional snow, etc, chipmunks, squirrels, deer came by, took a shot, hit her, she ran a ways, tracked her, nice size doe. (Fill in with adjectives and further descriptors of your choosing.)
Hunter version: It was a nice afternoon. Few flakes, not much breeze. Fucking chipmunks and squirrels were all OVER the place and I was tempted to just blast a few of them, but a spike and a couple doe came out of the brush right at sunset. I picked the biggest doe and waited for her to turn, took the shot... she hunched up right around it and started running, so I watched... she ran down that little swale to the east, and I lost sight of her in the thick shit at the end. Waited 15 or 20, then climbed down and started tracking. Good blood trail right away, nice pink frothy blood, followed it into that thick stuff and there she was. She was still breathing a little so I put one more in to finish her, then dressed her out and dragged her in...
Non-hunters don't care about the kind of blood trail I found, or how she reacted to the shot, or the fact that I made a finishing shot. Not sharing that information is done out of respect - but if someone asks, I'll happily explain it in detail.
So no, you aren't a wuss... and choose not to be a hunter. That's OK.
(My opinions of this semi-canned hunt are fodder for another post; stay tuned.)