The bear began moaning in obvious pain. She reached out her front paws and tried to move, tried to pull herself, and tried to do anything to get out of harm’s way. But her lower half was paralyzed. Her hind legs weren’t moving.

I hated that I had done that to something so incredible. What moments before I thought would be thrilling and enjoyable was heartbreaking to me. I looked at my gun. I needed to kill her. I needed to end her suffering. She continued moaning and attempting to move.

There was no way I could shoot that gun again. A couple minutes after shooting it, my ears were still hurting and still ringing. So, I began quickly unlatching my bow. I pulled out an arrow, attached it to my drawstring, all the while whispering, “I’ll stop your suffering. I’m sorry. I’ll put an end to your pain.”

I pulled back the bow, lined up my shot, and put a broad-head arrow straight through the heart of this bear.

She died almost instantly.

This bear was beautiful. She had a cinnamon color coat with a long blond stripe running down her chest. Black bears like that are rare indeed. My guide showed up minutes later, laughing that I was able to kill a bear with a gun like that from that far away. I watched him skin and gut the bear right then, we loaded up the kill, and we went to find my dad who had also brought down a bear (also with a gun after putting away his bow for the day).

It bothered me when it happened, but I quickly forgot about the bear’s final moments (and my emotions that went along with them) as we all exchanged hunting stories back at camp. The bear carcass was laid out to dry. The hunt was a “success.”

Over the years, I’ve had several people invite me to go hunting with them again. My dad has always told me I should go with him. I have friends that hunt. Uncles. A lot of people in Utah love hunting. And I have no real problem with that. It does serve an animal population control purpose. It does bring many fathers and sons closer together. It is something that has been passed down through time since the beginning of man.

But every time somebody invites me, I only think of one thing. I only think about how that poor, paralyzed, helpless bear ended up the way she did because of me… Because I had a want for blood. Because I thought it would be fun to kill something like that. Because I thought it was manly and sporty.

But in the end, I felt neither manly nor sporty. I had sat at the top of a tree and shot an animal that had been trained to believe that the place she was eating from was safe. There’s really not a whole lot of sport in that at all.

And that’s my story of why I don’t hunt.

In fact, this year, I’m going on an Elk shoot. We’re going to shoot some of the most magnificent elk in all of Utah. Where we’re going is a once in a lifetime draw. The bulls are enormous and majestic.

Only on this trip, we’ll be shooting them with cameras.

I’m really excited about it. My brother and his wife are flying in from England, and my dad, brother, and I will be calling in the elk just like we were hunting and seeing if we can’t get some magnificent photography out of it.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. What are your thoughts on hunting? Have you ever had a bad experience with it? Do you enjoy hunting, and if so, why? Are you against all hunting? If so, why?