The right to bear arms… and fill the freezer.

Even if Admiral Yamamoto didn’t actually say this, it is nevertheless true.  Se non è vero, è ben trovato:

You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.

I received this amusing piece via e-mail:

The state of Wisconsin has gone an entire deer hunting season without someone getting killed. That’s great. There were over 600,000 hunters. Allow me to restate that number. Over the last two months, the eighth largest army in the world – more men under arms than Iran; more than France and Germany combined – deployed to the woods of a single American state to help keep the deer menace at bay. But that pales in comparison to the 750,000 who are in the woods of Pennsylvania this week. Michigan ‘s 700,000 hunters have now returned home. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia , and it is literally the case that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world. America will forever be safe from foreign invasion of troops with that kind of home-grown firepower.

Hunting – it’s not just a way to fill the freezer. It’s a matter of national security!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jack Hughes says:

    can this army of deer hunters be deployed to the North Korean line of the DMZ?

  2. They already were deployed to Korea, in the 1950’s. Just average men. I hope they never have to go again.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    The US has maintained a significant force there since the 50’s.

  4. Mike says:

    I have “harvested” deer with a bow, crossbow, shotgun, rifle, and blackpower rifle. It’s not the thrill of the kill (there isn’t any when you’re shivering on a deer stand in a 22 degree morning), but the sense of how we as images of the Creator can use our minds to outwit creatures far faster and more wary than us. It takes determination, skill, patience. Deer hunting brings back stories to the feast, as we slice into tenderloin taken by our own hands, yet provided by our Provident God. Hunting brings out a lot of good things in this world.

  5. Ed the Roman says:

    Before WWI, the Imperial German Naval Staff was conducting studies of shipping would be required and potential landing sites to invade the United States. The General Staff, hearing of this, told them to sit down and shut up; did they have any idea of how BIG that country was, and how many GUNS were there?

  6. Mike: It’s not the thrill of the kill (there isn’t any when you’re shivering on a deer stand in a 22 degree morning)

    Right. And gralloching a deer is my idea of a thrill.

  7. Speaking of deer hunting, my husband opened deer season here in North Texas and didn’t even use a gun. Of course it totaled out our vehicle and we didn’t even have the pleasure of finding it and dressing it. He almost bagged another one a couple weeks ago, in the same place, only this time he hit the brakes and skidded to miss it. I am not sure the insurance company would believe he hit two deer in the same place within 5 months of each other.

  8. bookworm says:

    “the eighth largest army in the world deployed to the woods of a single American state”

    The moral of that story seems to be: don’t mess with cheeseheads! :-)

  9. FrCharles says:

    This is good news, for sure, but I have to admit that as a city kid, my experience of this time of year in Wisconsin (Mt. Calvary, outside Fond du Lac) was pretty scary. I always thought hunting was something you went somewhere to do. Not at all; armed men were all over the neighborhood, behind every bush and in every ditch. We were advised not go for walks in our brown habits.

  10. joecct77 says:


    Would you be Mrs. Natty Bumppo??? :)

  11. FredM says:

    gralloching? I had to look it up. But, I live in NY and am not allowed to defend myself.

    Seriously though, “we as images of the Creator can use our minds to outwit creatures far faster and more wary than us” You have a human brain and a gun. I can’t think of a worse image of the Creator.


  12. EXCHIEF says:

    Hate to throw cold political water on the subject—but the very people (some of our so-called “leaders”) who ought to appreciate the capability so many trained marksmen possess are doing their best to eliminate firearms, ammunition, and even access to public hunting grounds.

  13. Mike says:

    Fr. Z…had to go to the dictionary for “gralloching”…yes. The last deer I got was a nice eight-pointer, at the end of ’07 (I’ve been really busy lately; prior to that, I usually got three deer a year), and let me tell you, gralloching that fellow was a treat. :)

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you for posting this. I grew up on squirrel, rabbit, pheasant, quail, venison, and bear. The real men in my dad’s family, all of them, and my cousins, hunted for food. Now, the following generations seem to be too squeamish. The men also fished and we had trout, river bass, and other good things to eat.

    Perhaps the younger ones should learn these skills. And the women did the cleaning!

  15. FrCharles: We were advised not go for walks in our brown habits.

    Yah, I can see that.

    No blaze orange habits?

  16. And don’t forget to buy some Mystic Monk Coffee!


  17. AnAmericanMother says:


    Which is a better imitation of the Creator – a person who takes direct responsibility for feeding his (or in my case, her) family by pitting his wits and patience against a wild creature, taking only what he can obtain by his own efforts and what he can use –

    – or a person who thinks he avoids the whole question by purchasing, nicely wrapped in plastic in a foam tray, meat that has been taken in a wasteful manner from a whole host of factory-farmed animals which live out their lives in regimented confinement, only to walk up a gangway to be killed by a bolt gun?

    Unless people are vegetarians, they ought not to criticize hunters for killing animals. At least hunters directly comprehend the cost of the meal on their table.

  18. EXCHIEF says:

    Hey in the rural area in which I live men (and women) still hunt and fish. Opening days for deer, elk and bear are akin to national holidays. Fishing isn’t bad either. Last year I had the honor of teaching my two youngest city dwelling grandkids how to fish and watching the excitment as they caught their first fish within seconds of each other.

  19. Maltese says:

    General Sherman is quoted as saying that “war is hell,” and I believe it. Those who think otherwise haven’t had sons in war, or been there themselves.

    On the other hand, I greatly admire this quote from General Lee:

    “What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.”

    Either way you reckon it, this Country is founded on the right to bear arms…

  20. Ralph says:

    You midwesterners may find this hard to believe, but here in AZ, we are not allowed tree stands or bait (deer corn etc). It’s old school hunting out west!
    Alas, much of the best hunting areas near me in southeast AZ is pretty much off limits due to the illegal and drug smugglers. It’s annoying.
    So rather than hunt, my wife and I just raise our own domesticated meat. Not as fun, but less chance of being shot.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Get a grip. Christ himself went on fishing trips, cooked and ate fresh fish. He also ate lamb, and it didn’t come in a foam tray from Walmart either.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    John 21: 7-8

  23. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Like many of our ancestors, my family still posses many of the skills to live “off the land”either by garden plots and fields or animal husbandry and hunting. I am very thankful that we do not HAVE to do that, and that there are stores near by and we have the means to purchase food.

  24. moon1234 says:

    Ahh yes, food at the store. Much of it is now “Mystery Food”. The salmon may now be transgenic salmon (Part Salmon, part DNS from an insect to make them grow bigger). Your Wheaties may now be made with Genetically modified wheat (it grows its own pesticide, herbicide, etc.), the veggies have been sprayed with Pesticides, Herbicides, growth regulators, etc.

    There is a very good reason to hunt what is STILL wild (For the time being). Certified organic is what my family is shooting for at the grocery store. The only guarantee that the food has not been adulterated (At least we hope).

    From a religious standpoint, what is the consequence of acting like God? Manipulating the DNA of God’s creations to make a buck? I think that in the long run this technology is being used to harm more than it is to help.

    The Salmon that I spoke of are being allowed to be marketed in the United States with NO WARNING or labeling that the Salmon is NOT really Salmon. It is some sort of Salmon Chimera. It is bred in the OCEAN in contained areas. What is ONE of these fish gets loose into the wild? It has be programmed to breed like all get out. It grows twice as fast as natural wild salmon. Within 30-60 generations wild salmon as we know them could cease to exist?

    Hunting is a great tradition that connects us with nature. But in the next 100 years how “Wild” will the animals be? There is already talk of allowed vegetables that have vaccines in them on the market as a way to ensure everyone is “vaccinated”. What happens when wild animals eat these crops and then we eat the wild animals. Now think about WHAT this technology could ultimately do?

    While I love hunting, hunters and the tradition. I think we ALL must be very vigilent that we don’t destroy ourselves and our planet by ignoring what big ag is up to.

  25. Kent says:

    I am a farmer living in a rural area. Keep your hunters away from me. I have had gunshot holes in my car, trespassers that don’t know a thing about country let alone farm etiquette, and beer cans and rubish all over the place. Yea, I know its the minority who give everyone else a bad name. If you macho men want to provide meat for your families why don’t you give the animals a chance and hunt them with knives and clubs instead of high powered rifles with telescopic sights that enable you to shoot them from a 1000 yards away. I live with these animals all through the year and then you show dressed up like a dude ready to snuff the life out a creature just for the thrill of it. Buy your meat at the store. Its a lot cheaper. Yea I know an animal still has to die but at least you won’t be tramping all over my farm endangering my livestock and property just to satisfy some inner urge.

  26. AndyKl says:

    On Wisconsin! :)

  27. Childermass says:

    I agree with part of Kent’s point. I grew up hunting with my uncles, father and brother with bow an arrow. It’s not as easy, but it beats using high-powered rifles. As my dad would say, “Guns are for wimps.”

  28. Mike Morrow says:

    The Second Amendment is NOT about deer (duck, rabbit, platypus, etc.) hunting. There is nothing in the US Constitution that guarantees the right to hunt. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to bear arms for defense against the worst and most devious of creatures…another human being (especially one with the backing of an oppressive government).

    Shamefully, hunters as a class of people do much less than the US population as a whole to support and defend the Second Amendment by contributions to civil rights groups like the National Rifle Association. Many hunters are strongly anti-Second Amendment, advocating only “sporting” firearms for “sporting” use, and would readily support government bans on handguns and other weapons designed for defense, not for “sport”.

    I personally take no joy taking the life of a creature that is not a threat to me, so I haven’t hunted in more than 40 years. However, hunting is a necessary and useful activity. But then, so is operating a slaughterhouse.

  29. FrCharles says:

    @FrZ LOL. I shall suggest a blaze orange novice caperone to the novice master and to Br. Tailor.

  30. Banjo pickin girl says:

    My favorite Bible verse, “Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me venison.”

    “we as images of the Creator can use our minds to outwit creatures far faster and more wary than us”

    I myself am only as smart as a squirrel. 8-( But the squirrels around here are fox squirrels, or what I call “two-meal squirrels.” 8-)

  31. Mike says:


    That’s too bad. If I were allowed to hunt on your property, I would leave it as I found it–except might leave it cleaner, if at all possible.

    I’m sorry your local hunters are hockey pucks!

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    That’s a darned shame that your area is infested with slob hunters. It’s not rare when it happens to you.
    We hunt either at a club with its own land or on private land with permission.
    I’d call Game and Fish on those jerks.

  33. gloriainexcelsis says:

    In my Christmas letter I stated, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in California any more.” Every week in our local East Texas paper there is a row of pictures with deer taken and the hunters. There is at least one youngster with his/her first buck. Sometimes it is just the young ones. A couple of weeks ago a seven year old girl was among them, the oldest 14, proud as punch. Stores here even have toy guns for sale (gasp!). These are not hunters for sport alone. These are hunters for utility. The kids are taught young, how, why and where to use or not to use firearms. There is even a “Christian Hunters and Anglers” magazine, with plenty of ads from churches. Yup! This ain’t California.

  34. nanetteclaret says:

    “The right to bear arms… fill the freezer… and feed the hungry.”

    Many states have “Hunters for the Hungry” type programs, which allow hunters who so desire to contribute their field dressed meat to processing plants for a small fee. The processors then package the meat and distribute it to local food banks. Venison is an excellent source of protein and has very little fat. Many people don’t like the taste of venison by itself, but it is palatable in chili.

    I am very proud of Mr. Claret for being able to shoot a deer, then field dress it, and in so doing, provide for our family (after taking it to the processor). He is also an excellent fisherman, which includes the disgusting task of cleaning them after being caught. He fished all day week before last, came home and cleaned a cooler full of crappie, then remarked that we now have many “Fish on Friday” meals in our freezer.

  35. nanetteclaret says:

    According to one statistic I read, Texas Parks & Wildlife issued 3.2 million hunting and fishing licenses in 2007. That’s almost a million more than the above quoted “army” of 2.3 million in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    Farmers know that animals are raised & taken humanely to feed people. It’s a farmer’s business.
    In Michigan, deer are overpopulated. That means that if the hunters don’t take a certain number every year, they starve to death or get hit by cars & semi-trucks by the thousands. It’s necessary that people in Michigan hunt to prevent carnage all over the roads & fields. I imagine they have the same situation in the other northern tier states as well–Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, I’m sorry you have thoughtless slobs among your local hunters. Do you live near a big city?

  38. Supertradmum says:

    Thank God for the hunters. Last year, when I went broke with cancer, etc., I had to go to the food bank for months. One of the best things we got were venison cuts and minced venison donated through a scheme which allowed hunters to give so much kill to the State for other perks. Anyone who criticizes these men should think of all the people outside their own families they might be feeding.

    This is the American way.

  39. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    EXCHIEF, Sadly in Canada this is already the reality thanks to our government’s history. No right to bear arms outright (save law enforcement and military) and the process to legally own one as a citizen is excrutiating including licensure, be it defense on farms or hunting. Even recreational shooting is vehemently discourage as in Toronto, former mayor David Miller closed a rare recreational facility before Ford took over. Meanwhile the majority that do have firearms are street thugs/gangs/crime organizations in major cities and people in poorer parts, and not a week goes by that 2-3 news reports involve a shootout or death to gun-related violence. All mentioned i’d bet a 95% assurity that they own them illegally. Our most famous example was the Jane Creba 2006 Boxing day shooting in the downtown shopping district of Toronto.

    Guess what I’m trying to say is to defend with vigor your constitutional right to bear arms and don’t be like Canada.

  40. AnAmericanMother says:

    The idea that hunting is expensive is mistaken. Sure, if you WANT it to be expensive it can be. But fact is all you really need is a basic rifle – an old .30-30 will do just fine and you can pick one up at a gun show dirt cheap if you don’t already have one – and one or two shells that will set you back a buck or two if you pay retail (rather than reloading). The rest is time, skill, and patience, which are priceless.
    That’s why hunters can afford to donate part of their harvest to he food banks. The last deer I got, we had around 45 pounds of roasts, chops, and deerburger. We shared around with all our friends.

  41. catholicmidwest says:


    Your government might not be fooling themselves but ours would definitely be if they tried this. The US has a history of protecting itself in an all-hands-on-deck manner. It’s part of our heritage, and I don’t see that changing, even though many Americans are very soft and silly these days. They’d harden up fast enough if they had to. Well fed, opinionated and stubborn they are. And schooled in violence by the media. Messing with them would be a bad idea.

  42. ghp95134 says:

    Just a question for American hunters — is there here the tradition of putting a small fir or oak branch in the deer’s mouth as an act of respect? When I was stationed in Germany some friends who hunted told me about this German tradition of honoring the deer with “Der letzte Biss” [the last bite]. I thought it was a very noble tradition.

    –Guy Power

  43. rakesvines says:

    @MikeMorrow: ditto. This is perhaps what keeps Eric Holder up at night. Gun sales have shot through the roof in the past 2 years.

    On the subject of bearing arms, Switzerland has all of its citizens armed and trained. That is why it has the lowest crime rate in the world.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    However, your point is well taken. Best to keep our legal guarantees. We’re working to keep them here.

  45. AnAmericanMother says:

    Should mention that, unlike out west with mule deer, you are unlikely to ever have a shot at a whitetail in GA over 100 yds. Iron sights and any medium cartridge is perfectly adequate.
    And to those who pointed out that the Second Amt isn’t about hunting- correct. But active hunters provide a reservoir of trained shooters for emergencies.
    I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis quite well. Nibody was sure what was going to happen. My dad and his friends (all WWII vets) bought up every shell, bullet, can of powder and primer in the city. They were as ready as they could be.

  46. AnAmericanMother says:

    Guy – I studied German and had heard of this custom. Never heard of it in the American South. Perhaps where there were more German settlers? But hunting in Germany is a much more formal and organized affair than it is here, so I would think not.

  47. Mike says:

    ghp95134–never heard of that one, but I kind of like it.

    There is a tradition I’ve read about in an old hunting book about stringing deer from the hindquarters instead of the neck, out of respect. I like that too, but I alway hang mine in my friend’s shed by the neck.

    Here’s a poem I wrote in the 90s, when I deer hunted a lot:

    Deer Season

    The screen door to the shed shudders
    as I open it, and then I see them,
    hanging from the rafters: mine on the left,
    its body stretched as if in a leap
    over starlight, over snows smooth
    as milk, through briars black as
    blood dried by northern air.
    Their long legs bent at the joints,
    stiffen in the cold,
    their coats still thick with a
    mid-winter grayness (the color of the
    deep woods, a mix of bark and sky),
    their white as paper underbellies partially
    torn away by field dressing, reveal
    a cavity of darkness, hollow yet still
    oak-hard in the ribs, where the lungs
    once gulped heather-fragrant air of hill
    and gully, now still as a dried stump.
    The antlers tilt the head to the left, sadly,
    as if their weathered crowns of the season
    acknowledged defeat, their mastery
    now motionless, a domestic trophy.
    The eyes are open, widely staring into the
    swinging space, their soft almond color
    shocked at the sudden stillness they own.
    Pausing, my knife tilting upward, I see
    the forest beyond, its great heart unmoved.

  48. brassplayer says:

    catholicmidwest wrote:
    Get a grip. Christ himself went on fishing trips, cooked and ate fresh fish. He also ate lamb, and it didn’t come in a foam tray from Walmart either.

    And how often did Jesus hunt for sport?

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    Oh, hunting for sport and for food are exclusive these days?

    I don’t know about you, but when I fish I eat what I catch, although I enjoy fishing. It’s part of being a good fisherman. Otherwise it’s waste of good food.

  50. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Guy, I have never heard of that custom in the upper Midwest where there are lots of people of German descent. Around most places in the US where I have lived though, if it is your first deer somebody will put some of its blood on your cheek. Very chic! (eeuw). It’s called “getting blooded.” You can see the same kind of thing in some hunter/gatherer cultures today.

    Most people I know pray when they find their deer. They kneel next to their deer and thank God for helping them provide for their family.

  51. Banjo pickin girl says:

    And I personally don’t know anybody who hunts for sport, assuming that it means they kill an animal and don’t eat it and use all its usable parts. I do know people who will travel far for an elk tag but when they fill it they use the animal too, shipping the meat home or donating it.

  52. KAS says:

    I would love to know where to find the article on hunting quoted above. Anyone know?

  53. Henry Belton says:

    Thank you Father Z for posting this. Protecting your home and family along with providing for it is perfectly aligned with Catholic tradition.

  54. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    catholicmidwest, thank you for the reply. After your first message it makes me regret more Canada’s lack of the right to bear arms. I even remember from my Gr. 10 history class that the brief theme of creating the Canadian Constitution was not to “be like the States” though it may have had more to do with the system of government in terms of passing laws (e.g. checks and balances with the senate as “second sober thought” [laughable these days as the government in power appoints senators that share their party line] vs giving the President veto power). Nevertheless, ownership of firearms is not a constitutional right and that cheezes me off even more. Sometimes I wonder if good old John A. McDonald and the others wanted to limit the overall power of the people and make them subservient to the government.

    On the brightside at least gun crime is rarely commited by people with legal firearms and its mostly illegal guns and maybe stolen ones. Still if God gave me the choice where to live, I would choose the USA over Canada due to the constitutional right to defend one self in case Catholics ever get hunted down (some other blogs on the internet predict dark times for us called “The Great Chastisement) and a relatively quicker increase in movement back to traditional Christianity (e.g. more TLMs appearing, more homeschooling Catholic communities, etc.)

  55. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    “Most people I know pray when they find their deer. They kneel next to their deer and thank God for helping them provide for their family.”

    Not just deer, but all “critters,” And the German custom… I’ve seen it in Germany, but not in the USA. One version in English:

    “Almighty God, maker and sustainer of all life, protect all who hunt from danger and from pride. Make us thankful, and careful, for all living things. Grant us joy in the chase, good fellowship with others, and humility at the harvest. And, we pray, open our eyes, that with St Hubert we may see the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is in him alone that we have hope of a new humanity and new creation perfectly restored in thee. Amen”

    My husband, his brother, his brother’s FIL and a couple of their uncles hunted the weekend after Thanksgiving and there are several freezers filled with venison for the winter, and I think they donated one deer to a food bank as well.

  56. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sandra, thanks for that beautiful prayer. Hast du dieses Gebet auf Deutsch?

  57. catholicmidwest says:

    You’re welcome, Young Canadian RC Male,

    The US is still a good place to live if one is willing to work and make it better.

    We have some of that same talk about persecution here (as witnessed by the existence of this thread). I’m not sure how realistic it is though. The culture has changed so much and that, in itself, is scary. I’m not sure if it will ever come to that. Maybe. The Lord will guide us if it does.

    The economy is still weird here too, although it seems to be picking up slowly. I have heard that Canadians weren’t hit so badly by that. Is it true?

  58. AnAmericanMother says:

    I meant to say something earlier. I like your poem. Very evocative and true to my experience.
    It is a bit silly, but I have always whispered something thankful and apologetic into the ear of my deer. If any of the guys heard me they would make fun of me, since I’m usually the only woman in deer camp, but . . . whatever. It seems necessary to say something.

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