He caught his first fish at age four, fishing with his father. That’s what Bob Sopuck told me last year during hunting season when I rang him up to talk about deer hunting and the impact of hunting and fishing on Manitoba’s economy.
If anyone would have a quick answer for me, I knew it would be MP (until 2018) Robert Sopuck.
I knew Sopuck was a naturalist. He and his wife Caroline live on 480 acres, immediately south of my favourite wild place, Riding Mountain National Park.
I’d seen his column in newspapers and knew he had a Master’s degree in biology.
I learned a lot from our conversation about deer hunting that day. A sense of respect came through his words, “When you take an animal’s life, it is a profound experience.” He said, “Take it, treat it with respect. Enjoy the venison.”
Conservation and hunting are deeply linked. Sopuck said, “We treasure abundance,” and I have to believe him as I review that discussion and delve deeper into his writings.
He sent me a copy of his book, published in 2014, A Life Outdoors; Essays on Hunting, Gathering and Country Living in the 21st Centruy. It’s is forwarded byPresident Emeritus of World Wildlife Fund Canada Monte Hummel. As I tumbled down the rabbit hole and into the pages of the more than 70 short chapters I found descriptive charm.
“A Late Season Upland Bird Hunt” took me right into the soft, fall hues of a Waskada upland ravine with two hunters and their German Wire-Hair Pointers, Sawyer and Rex, hunting sharp-tail grouse
A Life Outdoorshas photos and even recipes: Barbecued Stuffed Goose Breasts and Blueberry Sauce.
The chapter, “Stacy Gets Her First Moose” features a family from Powerview, Man.
But one of the chapters that caught my attention contained a letter from a reader – an animal lover – who finishes by saying, “I just thought I would let you know that there are non-hunters out there who do respect you and the lifestyle you have.”
Within the letter she says, “I would love for all creatures on this planet to have a good life, till the end. Unfortunately, we cannot say this to describe how our food ends up in the pretty packaging at the grocery store. … When I was growing up, I would have never thought a hunter could be a good person. Now I know there are wonderful, family loving people out there, who happen to get some of the food on their table in a respectful way.” (pg. 16-17).
What I also found out - the yearly economic value from hunting and fishing amounts to about $469 million, with angling bringing in about two-thirds of that.
More people participate in angling than in hockey and golf together, with some 250,000 people (excludes seniors and kids under 16) yearly purchasing fishing licenses.
This hunting season, if you can’t get out, or if you just want a good read, pick up Sopuck’s book, published by Friessen Press.