by Matt Burnes
For anyone involved in activism, there is always that special moment when you realize an issue is worth fighting for. Whether it be environmental, social or another form, everyone has an inspiration. I am still in high school and have a lot to learn about environmental activism. I am certain that I will stay committed to my cause through the inspiration that I had in the summer of 2016. It was the death of an animal that inspired me to embrace the importance of outdoor experiences in nature and the essential need to protect our environment in any capacity that I could.
The hunt started on a hike with my family on an island in Lake Huron, a common activity for this group of outdoor enthusiasts. As we finished our hike and packed the boat, my father and I spotted a buck. It was on the other side of a long beaver dam that connected to the trail we had just completed. My interest was piqued. My father is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Given the opportunity, I wanted to hunt with him to experience why he was so attached to this activity. Once everyone had returned to the cottage, my father handed me a pair of binoculars as he set up his bow. We again went out in the boat and travelled across the lake to the hiking trail
The island near Parry Sound where my father and I went hunting together.
After disembarking from the landing boat, my vision was focused on the ground to avoid stepping on leaves or sticks that might scare off any nearby deer. My cautiousness was rewarded, as it soon became clear that the binoculars were not needed to find the buck in question. After walking only about ten meters around a corner with my dad, I raised my head to look for signs that the deer had crossed the beaver dam. This is when I realized that the deer was in fact standing only a few feet in front of me, frozen by an invisible pair of headlights. I could only mirror the deer’s reaction, frozen in fear of scaring the animal away. From behind me, the whistle of my father’s arrow ended the short moment I had alone with the animal. As the deer was pierced directly through the lungs and out the other side, it could only run ten paces before collapsing among a group of birch trees in the forest.
Once we had brought back the carcass of the animal, ready to be sent to the butcher, I had not yet fully understood how much I had gained from my first hunt. A lesson in the importance of seizing opportunities, a new passion for a yet inexperienced activity, and the close bond over the hunt that I had made with my father. After reflecting on the experience, and knowing how the short time I spent on that hunt made such a strong impact on my life, I grew to adopt the views I now have on the environment. It is a method of learning, of experiencing new things, and of beauty. My inspiration from that hunt has always stuck with me, and I am confident that it will continue to do so in the future.
Blogs are written by ELB members who want to share their stories about Ontario's biodiversity.