And he hunts too

By Masada Siegel, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer

American Jews and Guns: An ambivalent relationship

Masada Siegel

At a Shabbat dinner a few weeks back, someone asked me about my new friend, Josh. I wickedly responded, “Oh we have been together for eight years.”

Josh, whom I had only met for the second time, smiled at me and told the person, “Yes we met in taxidermy school.”

Moments later someone else asked us the same question and Josh mentioned how we met at an archery tournament.

We both kept straight faces and eventually broke out into laughter. Who knew the power of those words, said in jest?

Fast forward a few weeks. My Mom got a phone call with the question, “Does Masada want to meet someone new?” She asked me if I was interested.

“Mom, if the guy is interested, he can contact me via my work e-mail.”

A few days later I got an e-mail from Brian. We chatted on the phone and agreed to meet. He mentioned he loves the outdoors, working out, and is not your most typical Jewish guy. In other words, he loves hunting.

I thought, different, but I’m in an adventurous mood. I’ll meet him, sight unseen.

We met on a Monday night for dinner at a casual but hip Scottsdale restaurant.

The conversation inevitably got to hunting, his big passion in life.  “I love the challenge” he said.

“How is it a challenge to shoot an animal with a rifle or semi-automatic?” I asked. “I’ve gone target shooting before and you have a definite advantage over any animal.”

“You’d be surprised how hard it can be,” he replied.

“What kind of hunting do you do, are you a Bambi killer?” I asked somewhat in jest.

“Yes, and recently I shot a bear.”

“A bear?” I stared into his eyes shocked. “Aren’t those endangered or something?”

“Nope. Got to clear them out, so they don’t overpopulate.”

I shook my head. “Do you eat everything you kill?”

“Pretty much.”

That at least made me feel better, that killing was not just done for sport. But how to explain my desire of having a kosher home when Bigfoot was lying in blood in the back of the truck waiting to be put in the freezer? Clearly we were not a match.

Brian then mentioned his friend the taxidermist, who was going to New Zealand, as there is much game there. At this point I could hardly contain myself; here was a man who actually had a taxidermist. I had to choke down my laughter.

“You know a taxidermist?”

“Sure, you should see my house. My family jokes that all the animals hanging on the walls are my real family.”

“You have all that you have killed hanging on the walls?” My eyes opened really wide.

“Sure. And my next new challenge is to go bow-and-arrow hunting.”

Archery now too? I just had to call Josh. This was unbelievable.

Just when I thought my evening couldn’t get more absurd, I saw a huge rat run in the restaurant from outside through the big open doors.

“Look!” I said and pointed. We watched the big grey rat run under the high heels of an elegantly dressed woman who was dreamily staring into her date’s eyes.

“Would you like me to go kill it?” Brian asked

“How would you do that?” I wondered.

“I’ll just step on it.”

“Ah, why don’t we let the restaurant take care of it?”

The rat reappeared just as my date was telling me how he used to catch rattlesnakes and freeze them to give to his taxidermist in exchange for free stuffing later on.

On the way home, I called Josh who also broke out into peals of laughter. I then informed him, it was time to clearly say to the universe the kind of person I want to meet. I gave him all the vitals, and listened as he chanted them out loud.

I guess the Talmud is right: there is no joy without meat and wine. I’m just not sure the reference was about beer and a blown-away Bambi.

Masada Siegel is a freelance writer in Scottsdale, Ariz. Her work frequently appears in The Dayton Jewish Observer.

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