Do You Bag, Take, Down, Destroy Or Kill Your Quarry?

By Don Jordan

posted 12/16/07

Time-and-again, we get ourselves in trouble by using the wrong word in the wrong place, and right now Indiana bureaucrats, legislators, trappers and outdoor writers are locked in a struggle because of a single word.

"I took my buck over by the woods on the edge of the corn field."

What does that sentence mean to you? To those of us oriented to hunting and fishing, the sentence means: "I killed my buck over by the woods on the edge of the corn field."

Outdoor writers have substituted other words for the K word for over 100 years. A hunter can "bag" or "down" or "harvest" or "destroy" or even "euthanize" his or her prey, for example. There are good writing guidelines that tell us not to repeat the same word over and over, but there is more to our use of these words to replace the verb "kill" than meets the eye.

Cynics among us say that replacing "kill" with a bunch of other, less descriptive verbs is a conscious attempt to blur reality. Ask yourself. Do you tell people you killed a deer this year or that you "took" a big one? Did you kill ten rabbits or "bag" ten bunnies?

When a discussion over this subject erupted among members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America over 20 years ago, I recall one writer saying: "Kill is an ugly word. Why should I offend my non-hunting readers by using it when I can use a different word that doesn't offend them?"

Political correctness is not new to American society. But who would guess that being PC over the K word precipitated such an argument among outdoorsmen? One group insisted on being more blunt and using the K word to "tell it like it is"; while the other group preferred the softer approach.

Unfortunately, avoiding the K word has gotten the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources in trouble. By using the word "taken" in a trapping regulation, some trappers are now arguing "taken" means they can trap an animal and keep it alive and resold. The DNR says it means, "the animal should be destroyed."

Right now, the DNR is locking horns with trappers who supply Southern dog trainers with coyotes, foxes, raccoons and rabbits for "live bait" in their dog training businesses.

At stake is how we as outdoorsmen and women treat nature. Do we respect wildlife or do we debase and abuse wildlife for a dollar's sake? Do we stick up for and speak out for animals that can't speak for themselves or do we let those with financial interests determine ethical standards for Indiana?

The Natural Resources Commission, which sets DNR policy, wants to hear from you about this "live bait" issue, and you can email your comments to Please include your full name and city and county of residence.

Oh, take care when choosing your words, or you too might be "taken" by this argument.

You can email Don Jordan by clicking the email link at

©Copyright 2007. Donald Lee Jordan.