One of the benefits of hunting is getting to see so many different animals and other things that one just doesn’t get to see otherwise. I have renamed one of my trail cameras, the zoo camera, because it always has pictures of so many kinds of animals. On that one camera, within the last two months, I have pictures of deer, coyotes, bobcats, turkeys, raccoons, squirrels, and a bear. Not to mention the various birds. And not only do I get to see various creatures, but sometimes it’s the oddities that are the most fun. It’s when you see a piebald deer or an albino coyote. I look forward to seeing what shows up next, every time I check that camera. But these things are even more fun to see while I’m actually hunting. These are the real memories. The other day I read about a hunter who had one of these experiences. His was very odd. It was once-in-a-lifetime odd. He shot a deer with two heads. Well, not with two attached heads. One had come from another deer. The deer this guy shot had evidently been in a previous fight with another deer and had killed the other deer but was unable to untangle his antlers from the other one. So, somehow, as the other deer decomposed, the deer that won the fight was able to decapitate its foe. Since that time, however, he’s had to walk around with a dead, smelly, heavy, cumbersome, remembrance of a victorious fight, that was not worth the price paid. The comparison, for me, was too blaring.
When I saw the picture of the guy’s trophy and the attached carcass, I thought about how many of the things people fight for are just not worth the hauls of a victory. While we may carry around the evidence of a win, it may also come with the stench of other spoils that may never go away. I wonder how many of us can remember a victory where the prize was not worth the win? And now the trophy is a burden of a painful memory. My friend, winning a battle, or an argument, over something that doesn’t really matter may bring immediate satisfaction, but don’t forget it could also be the very thing that brings about your own demise. The slow death of personal regret and its burdens is sometimes worse than the immediate pride that comes from destroying another.