There's an old joke that goes something like this:
We all know that a vegetarian is somebody who doesn't eat meat. But did you know that "vegetarian" is actually an old Native American term for lousy hunter?
Hundreds of years ago, the best hunters were held in the highest esteem by their peers because they were the best at supplying much-needed food for their families, villages or tribes.
Today, the best hunters may still be held in high esteem by some of their closest friends, but are often viewed much less favorably by society as a whole.
Hunting has fallen out of favor in the public eye. Maybe it's because hunters are closely associated with guns, which have become almost taboo.
Plus, we have such easy access to an overabundance of food that being able to hunt for your own sustenance isn't valued like it once was.
It's sad that hunting — such an important part of our heritage as Americans —has taken such a hit when it comes to public perception.
As we celebrated Thanksgiving a few days ago, we remembered just how hard it was for our ancestors to feed themselves when they first came to these shores. Just because we can now put a feast on the table by heading out to the local supermarket doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate those who are able to provide for themselves in more traditional ways.
The number of those hunting continues to dwindle. According to one survey, about 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the country's total population older than 16, hunted in 2011. Another report estimates that about 21.8 million Americans hunted at least once during the past five years.
We realize hunting isn’t for everybody, and that’s fine. But for those who continue to recognize this time-honored tradition — in a safe and responsible manner — we salute you.
Stay safe and shoot straight.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.