Sometimes it amazes me the that there are so many different points of view in the country.
Primarily, how people from our rural areas see life and the different facets compared with those from the urban areas.
I once lived and worked in eastern Pennsylvania. I’ve been to see the Liberty Bell and read through Articles of the Confederation and the Constitution under huge glass cases and amid stringent security.
The first was very poignant in it’s guidance on states’ rights. The second gave the federal government a little more authority.
That conflict between federal control and state autonomy can be difficult to understand sometimes, until you look at a person’s way of life, environment and upbringing.
My good friends Mike Henshaw and his wife Karen are an example.
They are both from the northeast, in very populated areas where not many people own firearms or hunt.
While stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and during a a weak moment, they bought two large rabbits — I don’t remember the breed — but they are about twice the size of a cat.
Their two elementary school age boys saw the critters and felt they couldn’t live without them, so each son got his own rabbit — which the pet store said were the same sex.
It didn’t take them long to find out something was amiss.
Tiny rabbits started appearing in their large, fenced-in backyard.
So they realized too late that the two original rabbits were a mating pair.
The family’s house rule was once the boys named them, the family had to keep them, rather than give them away.
It became so crowded in that yard, it was like a herd of rabbits. Everywhere you stepped the little creatures would scurry away from some bush or other hiding place.
The cost of feed was getting high, the once-grassy yard became a series of muddy burrows and the stench from feces incited complaints from the neighbors.
Finally, in desperation, one of the other Marines at that military detachment in San Angelo, Texas, said that he would take them and find them great homes.
Henshaw trusted this friend, but later discovered that he held a huge picnic for others in the detachment complete with rabbit roast.
Mike felt terrible, his wife Karen even worse, and I don’t believe their sons ever knew.
It didn’t really bother me. I came from a northern Midwest family that hunted often, until my parents moved to the Chicago area and later near Washington, D.C.
I didn’t hunt growing up, but all my cousins in the country did and my parents told stories of their own experiences in the north woods of Wisconsin.
I just didn’t seem to have the time to learn how to hunt growing up, but the concept of honor in self-sufficiency was instilled from an early age.
It wasn’t until I had been in the Marine Corps a few years and marksmanship became a way of life, that things changed for me.
Long before most coined the term “sniper,” there were expert Marine riflemen effectively shooting and killing the enemy at ranges previously thought impossible.
To be accepted and promoted, and maybe just “average” by Marine standards, rifle proficiency as a marksman or sharpshooter was not embraced. It was viewed as substandard.
Everyone had to be an expert — the top level of three qualifications — just to stay competitive.
So, I took these skills with me when some friends showed me how to hunt and I’ve truly enjoyed it ever since.
Those who have never been around firearms might not understand, but there are very valid reasons — such as hunting, self-defense, target shooting and collecting — and even just the right to possess guns.
But I digress.
I was moved to write on this topic by a young 4-H Club and Future Farmer of America member who said recently that he preferred to show pigs instead of sheep or goats.
They are easier to keep “and mighty tasty too” he said.
He had a very close connection with the land and the food chain, something I feel is very healthy.
I’ve “processed” many deer — trying not to waste the gift I believe God has given to us. I kept my actions to the backyard because I’m sure that some neighbors might not appreciate me stringing up “Bambi” on the front stoop for all the young, impressionable children to see.
I felt that entire experience was something better handled, approved and explained by their parents.
But in past generations the village butcher was revered by all and I wonder where many of these skills have gone.
I shared my thoughts with a co-worker from the Altus area. She laughed and remarked that her parents had a rooster they named “Cordon Bleu” and another called “Pot Pie.” The nicknames determined their eventual destination.
I guess that’s the practical way of life in the country.
I believe our founders instinctively knew about this division between rural and urban life, so much so that they created a U.S. Senate that gives all states equal rights and just two senators.
Maybe that has something to do with the Electoral College that supports some candidates without winning a popular vote.
That appears to be the ultimate in states’ rights and maybe was created with a little divine intervention.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.