Bob Bestler | Lure of hunting, fishing never captured this sports lover

I saw a little snippet in the newspaper the other day about the first day of deer hunting season back in Wisconsin, where I once lived.

The item said that on that first day two hunters near Green Bay were accidentally killed by other hunters.

That, unfortunately, is a rare but certainly not unheard of occurance among deer hunters, but it is not the main reason I have never hunted despite my four years as a sharpshooting U.S. Marine.

Fact is, I could never kill another living thing, except in self-defense or for self-preservation.

I don't begrudge others the sport. I have had, over the years, many friends and family members who hunted, mostly pheasant or Bambi. (OK, so I went for the cheap shot. So shoot me....no, no, I'm kidding.)

It's an odd place for carnivorous meat- and poultry-loving non-hunters such as myself to be, I suppose, and that makes it difficult to be judgmental.

I couldn't kill an animal -- a cow, for instance -- but I'll stand in a long line for a Big Mac. I'll regularly mail my order to Omaha Steaks. I'll savor anything Ruth's ChrIs will cook.

Just don't tell me how it got from the field to my table, thank you.

In book called “Meat Lover,'' author Steven Rinella writes about his love of hunting while noting that it is a dwindling sport.

“At this moment,'' he writes, “there are fewer hunters on earth than at any time in human history. Only about 5 percent of Americans hunt, down from about 7 percent a decade ago.''

Indeed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says both hunting and fishing are on the decline.

Between 1996 and 2006, the number of U.S. hunters dropped 10 percent, from 14 million to 12.5 million. In the same period, it said the number of people who fished dropped 15 percent, from 35.2 million to 30 million.

The agency blames the hunting decline on loss of land through urbanization, the time and costs involved in hunting and the lack of hunters in the family.

The last was my case, having been raised by a single mom.

I did try hunting once. Fishing, too. Neither pasttime took hold.

My hunting consisted of trying to shoot a squirrel with a .22 rifle. A couple problems there. No. 1, those little guys move fast; No. 2, what did the squirrel do to me?

As for fishing, the two times I went, I caught nothing after several hours. What a waste of time.

If the truth be known, I think I realized early on that if it didn't come with a ball -- as in football, basketball, baseball, tennis or golf --I wasn't interested, thank you. That has not changed over the years.