Reading Response #4

Select one of the assigned readings this week (either Lamott chapters or "Killing Wolves" by Sherry Simpson), and post a 500-word response below. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

26 thoughts on “Reading Response #4

  1. Andrew Lange

    I particularly enjoyed (and related to!) Sherry Simpson’s “Killing Wolves” piece. I found it relatable given that I presently live in Fairbanks and have spent half my life living in Alaska, so I am somewhat familiar with the state and some of its contentious issues such as predator control programs. Knowing this armed me with some extra tools for understanding her position and the subject matter of her story on a personal level, as although I have not personally experienced some of the things she has I am at least vaguely familiar with the issues.

    While not to get overly political in either direction, I spent much of my childhood in a fairly liberal area of California, and fairly liberal southeast Alaska. As a result, environmental conservation was very much a widespread concept which most people agreed with, even hunters and many commercial fishermen. For those of you who have ever signed online petitions for various causes you believe in, I’m sure you know how they then send follow up e-mails concerning similar ones. I cannot tell you how many times I got junk e-mail concerning things like “Please stop this cold-blooded, senseless, aerial slaughtering of these magnificent creatures”. While I was fairly neutral on this I could definitely cringe at the mental picture their petitions’ pitches would paint in my mind.

    Simpson herself writes in a rather humorous way, at one point even mentioning something to the effect of “These people I was with probably thought all us reporters from the Anchorage Daily News were just a bunch of liberal greenies”. I could relate to this description and found it very apt as despite having spent my teenage years in a fairly liberal part of Alaska my individual community, even that half of the sub-100-people, off-grid community I lived in (Port Alexander, AK) was in my personal observations fairly redneck; so when issues like this would come up in random conversation there was often comments referring to those who were passionate about environmental conservation or sustainable resource management “Those greenie do-gooders” and the like (Granted, the hatchery less than five miles away had brought the unintended consequence of bear problems to the area, and the Fish & Game Taser method of dealing with bears usually just sent them over to our community where they would cause shenanigans and break into empty houses). As a result of Simpson’s personal, first-person narrative I found myself chuckling relating to some of the issues I experienced living in rural southeast Alaska; although somewhat biased toward her own opinions (I myself found her opinions similar to my own; neutral but leaning toward “Why kill this magnificent animal?”) it made the piece fairly relatable for me. Even for the first-time reader of her work, who also isn’t familiar with the area or the subject matter in the least, her story paints excellent mental pictures of the issues and of her experiences as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News documenting the wolf hunts and the practices thereof.

    1. Katherine Whelchel

      Hi Andrew!
      I enjoyed reading your response! I also felt like I related to the article. Most people from Alaska have experience with this and are open with their opinions. I agree that Simpson’s writing style is very enjoyable and brings life to her article.

      1. Andrew Lange

        Agreed; since many (if not all) of us are from Alaska, this material is very much relatable to our own lives and experiences; we can identify with the author on a closer, more personal level.

  2. Katherine Whelchel

    “Killing Wolves” was incredibly relatable to me. Having been raised on a hill, 27 miles out of town, I have encountered many people who hunt and trap. Growing up, I would play with kids who lived for it. I never liked it, not because I thought it was wrong, but because I wanted to dress up like a princess. Sherry Simpson captures an alluring question in her article. The balance between the extremes and her thoughts about the trapping processes were clearly portrayed. I found myself wondering where I personally stood on the matter.
    Animals have always been a source of food, clothes, and other necessities. Here in Alaska, it is definitely a way of life. I remember helping our family friends cut up a moose. I didn’t have many thoughts similar to Simpson’s, I just remember having fun as I cut the tendons out of the slabs of muscle. I later went with them to look for a lost knife at the site where the moose was killed. The guts on the forest floor were a disgusting sight and made me cover my nose and eyes.
    When I think about people killing tons of animals, not out of need but just for fun, I also have reserves. Every thought she shared I felt like I understood. There are so many points of view on the subject, and depending on who you are around, it’s easy for those views to change.
    The way that Simpson went about her reporting, was very satisfying. Her descriptions of each person seemed true. As she shared her first impressions, she would then describe their actions and change her opinion after. It was like being there, think her thoughts myself. Describing the beauty, ferocity, and illusiveness of wolves, Simpson captured not just insights on human nature, but on wolves’ natures as well.
    At first, I was expecting a boring piece of literature. Usually, reports do no entertain me, but Sherry Simpson has a very intriguing way of writing. Though she was very descriptive, I do not think that anything she wrote was an exaggeration. They were honest observations that were detailed and communicated well. I hope to learn how to write like this. It creates a beautiful form of non-fiction reporting, not for humor or for entertainment, but to inform while still showing the beauty of everyday experiences.
    To learn this style, it will require a change of view. Noticing every detail and simple moment to be able to retell it on paper. It can be so easy to focus directly in on what you are doing or where you are going. Taking the time to regularly observe life, opens up beautiful opportunities when writing. I wonder if Simpson directly noticed the wolf skins as she walked into the gas station. Did they pop out to her and make a deep impression on her mind? Or did she only barely notice them, and turned them into a beautiful description only when sitting down to write the article.

    1. Aubri Stogsdill

      This made me wonder where I stood on the issue as well! And I identify with you princess dreams! I was never really interested in killing things either… I’d rather put on a sparkly dress. (;

    2. Andrew Lange

      Katherine, I find my upbringing was probably quite similar to yours; several of my various childhood homes were in incredibly natural, rural settings, with, for instance, free-roaming deer.

  3. Aubri Stogsdill

    ‘Killing Wolves’ was an interesting and engaging essay. I think for me, someone who was not born in Alaska, the hunting/trapping lifestyle has not ever been attractive to me. Though I don’t tend to air on the side of eliminating hunting, I personally would rather not do the killing. I think that Sherry did a wonderful job of showing the beauty of wolves as well as the value that trapping has in many communities in Alaska.
    In a way, at certain parts of the story, I sympathized more with the wolves. Particularly when comments were made about pups, or during the section when the she-wolf was being skinned. You might have mistaken me for a liberal there for a second or two. But the truth is that that isn’t the whole story. In order to stay alive, wolves must kill, and they themselves do not do it mercifully. Yet, trappers are intentional to set traps that do not cause the wolf to have a painful death. As the more intelligent species, trappers are not trying to brutally kill wolves.

    I have never really understood people who are so terribly concerned with protecting one particular animal but have no problem with the killing of others. If we are to condemn hunting and killing wolves then we must also condemn the killing of fish, cows, pigs, chickens, and all other animals. To say that a wolf has more value than a cow is simply an individual human opinion.
    What I appreciated about this piece was that the author was able to show that trapping wolves is not something that can be looked upon lightly. It is somewhat of a gruesome process that requires a bit of detachment on the part of the hunter, but this is true of moose and deer as well. The taking of any sort of life is not an easy thing.

    I also appreciate her descriptions of the trappers themselves. Trapping is something, like any other sort of sport, that attracts all different types of people. To say that all trappers are this way or that way is narrow-minded. Trappers aren’t bloodthirsty people, they just enjoy trapping and everything that comes along with it.

    I guess how I see it is that the killing of animals is something that has to happen for the good of the human race. We use their meat for food and their fur for clothing. Just as they kill to eat, we also kill to eat and live. This is just how life is. While every person has a right to come to their own conclusion on the morality of trapping and hunting in general, I personally see animals as God’s gift to human beings.
    There is always someone who will have an emotional response to the taking of animal life, but I’m confident they wouldn’t be complaining when they are warm in the winter from that creatures fur, or they are chowing down on a juicy steak. While you won’t see me out trapping wolves, I see that trapping and hunting, in general, is simply part of life, and is an important component of many peoples lives.

    1. Jessica Honebein

      I think you made multiple very important and wonderful points throughout your response. I would have to agree with you that animals are God’s gift to human beings. I think that some people that do not eat animal products might have a different opinion on this subject though. I like how you bring up the fact that she talks about the trappers themselves and why they are attracted to it. I am someone who does hunt and fish because that’s what our family did as growing up, especially fishing since I grew up in Seward. I think that I would also have to agree with you that something like hunting/trapping can be a huge component in many people’s lives. I think that with any animal you sympathize with there deaths, however as long as it is in a humane way I think that it is okay.

  4. Aundrea Pierce

    “Killing Wolves” by Sherry Simpson was a fantastic, attention-grabbing, informative piece. I have gained a more respectful stance for the realm of hunting wolves. She writes with a straightforward tone being particular about her word choice to portray imagery, especially with the descriptions of trap setting. For instance, when she speaks about the trap on page 144, “The pan works like a cookie cutter in the snow, out-lining the trap bed. The traps fit inside the pan, and Masek inserts the device into a small white garbage bag to prevent snow from clogging the jaws.” (Simpson) I enjoy the way she writes her careful observations in a way that readers can grasp the tedious effort with trapping. This contributed to my respectful stance on hunting wolfs. I had no idea how cautious and attentive a hunter must be!

    When it came to the skinning and separation of the wolf, I didn’t cringe or have any unappealing emotion while reading. I was impressed by this because usually when I have conversations, with inexperienced hunters, they’re very vulgar and gruesome with their depictions; so part of my attention is directed away from our discussion as my empathy for the animal bombards me. “[…] they’re wondering if I might start crying, or run outside, or throw up. But I can be as detached as they are[…]” (pg.147)
    This reminds me that sometimes if you want to write closest to the truth, it’s crucial to detach yourself! Simpson wrote such an excellent narrative with the help of separating herself. It’s funny because after reading Lammot’s work I took away a feeling that I needed to hone in on my thoughts and emotions.

    I appreciate how Simpson wrote in a nonjudgmental manner. She portrayed wolf hunting in a way that made me feel I shouldn’t judge because “It seems too personal, something between trappers and wolves.” (Simpson pg.146) I didn’t get the sense that she was coming off as bias or judgmental, which can be easily be done on the subject matter. Her tone was honest and fair with her accounts of simply expressing the role of the animals, the hunters, and the students. On page 158, the recollection of the hunter who killed for “recreation”, I did notice she painted a darker picture with her words. However, she still used the facts and excluded her personal opinion. She did well on giving as much detail to the reader so that the reader can become educated based off of an honest, genuine viewpoint.
    I like how one of the hunters summarizes his thought on hunting wolves, “I would never kill the last wolf. I don’t hate wolves,” he says. “But [trapping] is no more cruel, no less cruel than anything that happens in nature.” (pg.157)

    Overall I found this to be an intriguing adventure for the journalist and myself. What a unique opportunity to learn and grow. I found myself wanting to know more, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it made me miss Fairbanks!


    Simpson, S. (n.d.). Killing Wolves. Retrieved February 6, 2018, from

    1. Caitlyn Williams

      I’m impressed with your quotation skills! I agree, this reading was honest and also descriptive. The way Sherry describes wolf trapping school almost makes me feel like I’m there. I’m glad this reading was interesting to you too!

      PS yes, I’ve lived in Alaska all my life haha, it’s been an adventure!

    2. Ben Knapp

      I agree that it was a good thing that she kept things neutral and fair. I feel like people on both sides of the issue could read this and enjoy it. Glad you liked it as much as I did!

  5. Caitlyn Williams

    Caitlyn Williams
    Reading Response #4
    6, February 2018

    I thought Sherry Simpsons’ “Killing Wolves” was clever. They way she talked about wolves, and how they related to writing intrigued me. The ending of the reading especially intrigued me. It was hinted throughout, and brought home when Simpson concluded the essay with her response to her work. She writes about how the start of an essay begins not when we start writing, but when we start listening. This is a crucial part of writing, and knowing little details and dialog really make a paper worth reading. It goes to show that writing down what happens during a special event really catches the life and setting of the event. She also compares and contrasts wolves and humans, and says that the wolf became a “reflection of the human psyche” and how that that is a heavy burden to carry.

    She says that the wolf is communicative, family oriented, and intelligent. Wolves and humans are social creatures; both with a different set of skills. Simpson also writes about how smart trappers and smart wolves are alike; they rely on their natural attributes to outsmart one another. This is how hunting works, and I really like the way Simpson put it. She also touches on the issue of over trapping when she met a trapper that caught a dozen wolves with a set of snares. To me, this symbolized greed because we were taught only to catch what is needed. I don’t believe that this trapper needed the amount of wolves he trapped. It is borderline cruel, and as Simpson put it, unnecessary. Although I thought it symbolized greed, I understand that he grew up in the wilderness, and has taken the extra time to learn more about trapping than what is taught in the ‘norm’. I still don’t believe that catching a dozen wolves should make one earn “Legendary Status”. It praises the overkilling of the animal, and also encourages it.

    Another aspect I really liked about Simpsons’ work was that she wrote about the issue of ‘importance’ of animal kill. We as americans eat our greasy burgers, and our “slab of salmon prepared by a fancy chef” with no more meaning than having chicken that was raised in a crate. We tend to hold more respect and belief while killing a wolf because we made it have more meaning. I believe that the wolf does hold more meaning than a chicken raised and vaccinated by man does. I believe this because wolves have more respect. They’re wild, not farmed. They also have more knowledge than the idle chicken in it’s cage. We also don’t eat wolves, and that has an impact on our thought of them. They’ve also been romanticized, which also makes us stop and think how mysterious and dangerously beautiful these creatures are. In the end, we all hold different beliefs, and whether you think the chicken holds more meaning or not is up to you.

    Overall, this has been one of the more relatable pieces I’ve read this semester. I liked that the author was from Alaska; I also I liked the way she integrated the art and culture of trapping wolves into a writing lesson. This reading helped me understand that a great essay has a moral of the story at the end. It’s what the author wants the reader to take home with them. It’s something that is equally important to the story, if not more important. This was an enjoyable read, and I appreciated her integration of a writing lesson hidden in the story.

    1. Aundrea Pierce


      Great analysis! I liked how you explained what makes killing a wolf more meaningful. I always thought it was because they’re more uncommon than a chicken (the end). You honed in on the fact that wolves are wild and have been romanticized, which I agree. Have you lived in Alaska your whole life? I’m curious as to what your experience has been with hunting. I only lived in Alaska three years, but it has taught me a lot about hunting even though I have just experience fishing and smooshing ants. I’m glad you appreciated Simpson’s writing as well!

  6. Jessica Honebein

    Jessica Honebein- Reading Response #4

    In the segment we were supposed to read from Lamott chapters, I found the chapter “Writers Block” that starts on page 176 to be interesting. Lamott notes that writers block happens to everyone as long as you are a writer. She uses funny metaphors to help explain the true pain you can feel when you are having a writer’s block. Although it is not all pain, she does report a solution to us readers! She says that first you have to accept that you have writer’s block, and then continue to write three hundred words a day. Those three hundred words can be about anything, because if you are stuck sometimes it is hard to write about the subject at hand.

    Lamott also says that beginning as a writer does means that you should finish the stories you begin, even if it seems really hard to do so. She relates to us by telling us about how hard her last novel was to write. She says that critics from her last book were harsh so she did not want to disappoint on this next one, so she just took it easy. Going to movies, walking, and then finally one day it all just came to her and she wrote. Sometimes, just like Lamott says you have to wait till your tank is full before being able to produce a masterpiece. (Or at least having ideas flowing again).

    The last thing Lamott touches on in this chapter is that everything and anything is this world is practically written about. She uses examples like a fight with a dragon, or being a little kid growing up. But she says that even though the story may have been told before we have our own take on it and add our own twists to it. She ends it with re-stating that we need to just write three hundred words a day if we have writer’s block and leave it at that. Our unconscious brain will soon kick in and we will be typing at full speed, whereas if we pressure ourselves we will never get what we really want to out on paper.

    I chose this chapter because I myself can relate to having writer’s block. I honestly think that almost every essay, story, etc. that I have had to write I found that I was asking myself “what next?” I think that everyone does have there struggles/ writers blocks and Lamott gives good advice on how to clear that writers block. I think that I am going to have to try it next time I get a cloud covering my brain! I think that it is also a relief that everyone gets writers block and not just beginning writers. Personally, if it is a subject that I have chosen/ one that I really enjoy, I normally can write about it and have no problems coming up with words. I run into the problems when I chose a topic or subject that interests me less. So next time I am in that situation, I will definitely take Lamott’s advice!

    1. Monica Gallagher

      I love how practical her knowledge is! She has some great advice for all the binds that come with writing. She’s gained such wisdom throughout the years in her experiences as a writer and she’s definitely not selfish about it. It’s really great how much she gives back. It seems semi abnormal for a writer. Or at least, the depiction of what a writer is normally supposed to be. She breaks the mold and spreads her knowledge in such an artistic and loving and hilarious way. She’s very inspiring. I would almost suggest, not only taking her advice in a writers block situation, but also reading some of her books. She just has that spark, that’s contagious and gratifying. It sort of lights a fire of inspiration. I want to read her other books. I want to have coffee with her. I want her to continue doing what she does and I’d love to do the same for others in some way at some point in my life. Whatever it is. That lesson of feeding your passion and giving it back to others rang true for me in the last chapters of this book. Great read!

  7. Monica Gallagher

    The end of Lamott’s book. I’m a little sad. This writer. Her work and her spirit move me. She makes me laugh and internally cry. She depicts life in such a realistic way without being too dark or too light. She is unafraid. She is in fact the most unafraid and liberated person, that I feel I have known, that also has severe anxiety. It’s remarkable and inspiring. It’s a gift of courage and a motivation to start out as is. Be who you are and run with it. There are so many of us out there, that any one thing that each of us does, has to relate to someone else. That same relation can happen back at us, like a mirror, allowing self-discovery and even further depth to the work that we do. Even if that work is not writing. I think self-realization and awareness are huge catapults into a higher level of productivity and joy in life. Reading her stuff springs that forward. It has a tangible movement to it. It’s like you are gaining spirit oomph each time you turn the page. I love that. I am going to try my hardest to make time to read more of her work and to continue writing tid bits, even after this class is over. Not with any specific goal in mind, but just to write.
    The timing of reading the last chapters and the critique of our first workshop is great. I really felt horrible dissecting through others writings and pointing out all the things. Reading Lamott’s chapter on “Someone to Read Your Drafts”, really brought back down the ego perspective I was feeling in regard to critiquing. Comparing writing feedback to the first try on your outfit compared to what you eventually decide to wear, hit home with me. Sometimes what we all think is great, in our own heads or in our own closet, is not the greatest. Sometimes we eventually see that on our own and other times we get it right away with feedback from others. Sometimes that feedback can be direct and vocal and other times we can get feedback from just seeing their non-verbal reactions. Using other people to bounce ideas off of is a great tool. It keeps us humble too. It keeps us locked in to writing to relate, instead of writing to be in our own box. When the editor told Lamott that she must think her life is all too important or something of that nature, hit me in the face just as clothing reference did. We’re all guilty of that. Our ego decides that for us sometimes and only other people can dial it back down fully. Workshopping and feedback friends are truly a gift in that respect.
    Her sometimes brutal honesty that is mixed with such ethereal softness is one of my favorite things about her. I didn’t want “her class” to end. She is such a valuable person in so many ways. I hope that she never gets Alzheimer’s or Dementia. But then again, she may pull some really interesting rabbits out of the hat then.

    1. Corbin Knapp

      Hi Monica!
      I was sad that Lamont’s book came to an end too. She is such a good writer and I think she has helped me get a better grip on my writing as well. I agree that she depicts life in such a realistic way without being too dark or too light. I will miss reading her book, you did a great job of summarizing her chapter “Someone to Read Your Drafts”.

    2. Naimy Schommer

      I feel the same way about her writing. I’d read some of her other work before this class, so when I saw she was on the required reading list, I had to mentally prepare myself to get emotionally wrecked. Well… it happened. I hate how she just smashes up your heart and soul with a hammer drill and then sprinkles the best writing advice you’ve ever received over your carcass like fairy dust. So rude and helpful. Ugh. 🙂

  8. Corbin Knapp

    Sherry Simpson’s Killing Wolves was an engaging read and thoroughly enjoyable. I can relate to this piece because I have a lot of friends who do trapping. I have lived in Alaska my whole life and I can see the points of both sides. I am still slightly divided on the topic of trapping, I feel there are some animals that should not be trapped because of their diminished population. The wolf population in parts of Alaska is fairly low, and the trap lines put out near these locations do not help the population grow.

    Even in our parks such as Denali, trap lines are set just outside the park boundaries to snare anything that roams out of the park. I don’t think that this gives some species a “sporting chance.” I try to remember that the parks were created to preserve the beauty of nature , and that includes the animals that live there. As someone who wants to become a park ranger it saddens me that money is so important to some tappers that they would set trap lines right next to the park. I am not against the trapping tradition in Alaska, and I believe it is a respectable endeavor when you trap far away from populated areas and parks.

    On the other hand, trapping is an important part of Alaskan culture and it is the livelihood of certain people. It would be wrong to get rid of trapping completely, but I think trap lines should be set farther away from our parks that are meant to preserve nature. Tourism is an important part of our state’s economy and trapping the species that people hope to view is not the way to keep them coming back to Alaska. I think that if you must set traps to earn a living then set them farther away from the boundaries of the park.

    I understand that wolf furs are highly prized for coats and other winter clothing items, but hare and beaver pelts are just as good. They have a relatively high population in Alaska compared to the recovering (but still minimal) wolf population. I’m sure that if trappers focused on those animals the wolf could start to thrive again. I am not completely against trapping. I used to have a friend whose family sets traps off of Chena Hot Springs Road. They set their traps for smaller animals like arctic hares and beavers. They also usually ate the meat of the animals they trapped instead of just discarding the meat. It is better when you use all of the parts of the animal, so they don’t die just for their coat.

    Simpson’s Killing Wolves is an interesting read that takes you into the techniques and tricks that trappers use to trap wolves. Her views on trapping, and how she feels about wolves. She uses great description and the interactions she wrote about makes you feel as if you are there listening to their conversations and jokes.

    Works Cited
    Simpson, S. (n.d.). Killing Wolves, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Accessed 9 February 2018. Class handout.

  9. Ben Knapp

    Sherry Simpson’s “Killing Wolves” explores the argument of whether or not trapping wolves is ethical. The text takes the reader on a journey through the life of a trapper and how and why they do what they do. With this narration is the underlying question of the ethics of trapping.

    After a couple of introductory paragraphs, Sherry jumps right into the middle of the trapping class she has enrolled in. This leap, although sudden, grabs the reader’s attention and avoids any unnecessary time spent leading up to the action, which could have become monotonous or dull. Why she is there will become apparent later; how she got there is not relevant or needed.

    Sherry leads the reader deeper into the class, and we begin to see the men who take it with her. They are all woodsy, outdoors type people, and it is clear that the ethics of trapping is not an issue for them. They all laugh and joke, and it seems like the wolves are nothing but the enemy in their minds.

    From the beginning, the main theme seems to me to be the issue of whether of not trapping is ethical. Sherry is conflicted on these issues, as she likes to wear fur, but dislikes the idea of killing animals to get it. Perhaps the reason for her journey into the world of the trapper was to answer these oft- ignored questions that haunt us all.

    As she moves onward through the text, her theme of ethical conflict becomes more apparent. She begins to talk about how trapping is not as bad as other ways of killing wolves, and how people have always been trapping in Alaska. It is clear that these issues are difficult for her, and writing about them might be a way for her to make up her mind about these questions.

    Before long, she is on the trail with her class, watching the instructor demonstrate how to set a trap. Although traps nowadays are being designed for ethically trapping animals, it is not a perfect science. Things do sometimes go wrong, as Sherry explains. However, trappers do all they can to design traps to be as kind as they can, although the real issue might not lie in how it should be done, but in whether or not It should be done.

    Soon after, one of the trappers in the class has found a wolf in one of the traps. He demonstrates how the wolf’s leg is unharmed by the trap, before beginning to skin the animal. Sherry seems unperturbed as the trapper begins to break the wolf down into its component parts, stripping it of its identity. As she gazes upon the wolf in its dismantled state, she still finds herself unable to decipher exactly what she is seeing, and what it means to her. Is it a noble creature, unfairly reduced into a couple bucks in the pocket of a trapper, or a mindless killer harvested for the profit of someone trying to make a living? Perhaps it is both, perhaps it is neither.

    The writing rounds off with her conversation with the trappers who joined her in the class. It seems that they too are not without conflict. One trapper describes a wolf he was forced to kill without a gun. From his point of view, it seems that this was an injustice, something he would have like to avoid. Another trapper wears a shirt that seems to glorify a wolf as majestic lord of the north. Even these men who live their lives trying to kill wolves are not totally without guilt or regret. Is trapping wrong or right? That is not for me to say. Maybe this is something we each have to decide for ourselves.
    Works Cited

    Simpson, S. (n.d.). Killing Wolves, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Accessed 9 February 2018. Class handout.

    1. Michelle Cordova


      I enjoyed reading your thoughts on “Killing Wolves,” and I think you did a great job at summarizing the main points. I, too, believe that the trappers all felt a sense of guilt in what they do, but it is a way of life for them. I think it is difficult to say with certainty whether trapping is right or wrong, but I appreciate the way she approached the topic, showing both sides so that we can come to our own conclusion through the information she presented.

  10. Michelle Cordova

    “Killing Wolves” by Sherry Simpson is an informative, interesting piece, to say the least. She brings up many of the issues that some people have in regards to killing wildlife while also explaining the beauty and importance of trapping in the harsh winters in Alaska. She uses a creative nonfiction style of writing to also learn more about herself and her feelings on the subject, telling different points of view to lay out as many facts as possible, for both the reader and herself.

    Although I did live in Alaska for a short while, I never had the opportunity to trap. I do, however, live in Alabama where deer hunting is the norm, so there are bits and pieces throughout the story that I can relate to. The land, weather, and animals between the two states are vastly different, both beautiful in their own ways, but there is something truly unique and special about Alaska’s crisp, fresh air and fluffy snow that sparkles as it falls silently from the biggest sky my eyes have ever seen. I’ve found myself struggling with the idea of killing an animal for food while realizing it is and was a common practice, used even by our late ancestors. Is it better to eat a steak that was cut from the loins of a cow who has never lived freely on this earth or to look deep into the eyes of an organic animal as it takes its final breath?

    I appreciate the amount of detail Simpson put into every aspect of the story. From explaining how trappers want to be understood as more than just killers to describing the feeling of guilt that churned in her stomach as she recalled the meat she’d recently eaten, but did not kill, knowing an animal lived and gave its life only to fuel her body- and that, I can relate to. I admire the way she expressed her feelings, to an extent, while also allowing the men’s experiences and words of wisdom to flood the pages. She went into great detail describing the way these men handled the dead wolf, starting with its mouth, slowly pulling back the snout before hanging it upside down, allowing the blood to pool onto the floor. Simpson did a fantastic job at giving a sense of delicacy to their mannerisms as they peeled the animal apart, layer by layer. She gently expresses how the trappers recall moments of “you just had to be there,” when they couldn’t find the words to describe the beauty and pain involved in both taking an animals life and living this sort of lifestyle than many would find too difficult.

    While I do not feel a great sense of passion towards this subject one way or another, I do believe that trapping, or hunting, is justified, so long as there is meaningful purpose behind it. I feel that the “natural circle of life” encompasses more than just wildlife killing wildlife, for humans are animals too, clothed in the fur of nature.

    Works Cited
    Simpson, S. (n.d.). Killing Wolves, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Accessed 11 February 2018. Class handout.

  11. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    Sierra Russell -McCollum
    Reading Response #4

    “Killing Wolves” was a very interesting essay. Throughout the entire essay, I was fully engulfed with what Sherry Simpson was writing. Her style is very smooth and that made it extremely easy to follow along with. There wasn’t a whole lot I could relate to, besides the furs and grow up on Disney. I remember being a little girl in my Grandma’s closet trying on all of the furs she owned. Just like the author, my Grandma wasn’t a big fan on killing the animals to get their fur, but she did very much love the looks and feel of them. I always loved the feeling of the fur brushing against my face, it was always comforting. I also grew up with a strong bond with animals so the idea of killing them just for their fur was hard for me to swallow.

    This article was a little hard to read at times, only because I don’t agree with people killing wolves. I believe these animals are absolutely gorgeous and they have more right to this land then we do. But it was interesting hearing about all the things trappers have to go through. For example, I knew wolves were very smart animals, but I never knew the extremes the trappers had to go through. Like making sure their scent isn’t on anything equipment, placing the trap where they are certain the wolves will step, or trying to hide their footsteps. In a way, trapping wolves is like art. Everything must be done a certain way, following the rules step by step.

    Even though I wasn’t a fan of the topic of the essay I believe Simpson did a very good job presenting it in a non-biased way. I loved how she even talked about the people who were attending the class. It was interesting to hear what kind of people were interested in wolf trapping. I also liked how she added the struggles reporters go through when sitting in on the class. I understand why the wolf trapping teachers would be skeptical, of course, they don’t want a bad review. I like how they still let her sit in on the class and how Simpson was actually interested and paying close attention. I know she did this for an article but I feel as though she was actually interested and took something away from the whole experience.

    I always admire people who walk away from an event they did for work with more knowledge. And Simpson did just that. I think that helped her essay in so many ways. By her adding herself into it, other people, being upfront and not backing away from the challenge strengthened this essay. I feel that if Simpson wasn’t as interested in the class as she was the essay wouldn’t have the same effect on the reader. It was very enjoyable to read overall. I would definitely recommend others to read this, even if they are against killing wolves like me. It really opens your eyes and to hear the hunter’s point of views on the matter is very interesting.

  12. Leah Rego

    I can really identify with Simpson’s “Killing Wolves”. I was raised in North Pole in a family that didn’t hunt. We fished but I never did any of the killing, the biggest thing I’d ever killed was a wasp. I went dip netting for the first time five years ago, and since I wasn’t strong enough to pull the fish out of the river I was delegating to ending their lives, it took some getting used to. Still I wasn’t sure I’d really ever want to, or be able to bring myself to killing a mammal. Then I was told something similar to Simpson mentions in her story, “…anyone who eats a Big Mac or an Easter lamb Orr a slab of salmon prepared by a fancy chef has simply delegated the to others.” I had never really thought about it, that my not killing wasn’t any different than doing the killing myself. So I learned to hunt, I have been out a few times, but haven’t gotten anything, and I’m not sure how I will handle the moment when it comes.
    I agree with Simpson’s statement regarding wither a wild animal’ life really has any more intrinsic value than those we raise for slaughter, after all, it’s not as if those penned beasts chose to live that way. They are slaves to our hunger both for food and the materials their deaths provide. How much better for an animal to live wild and free before their death.
    I don’t know that I personally could ever kill an animal strictly for it’s fur, I’ve thought about it, but I don’t believe I could bear to do it. Those fur animals such as foxes and wolves have so much beauty and majesty that I don’t think I could bear to sever their lives. I do appriciae the description of the respect that the hunters she was observing had for their kills however, and believe that such an attitude is helpful to how those who don’t hunt view them.

  13. Naimy Schommer

    The chapter from this week’s “Bird by Bird” reading that stuck out to me the most was the chapter titled “Writing a Present”.

    I personally do my best ‘serious’ writing when the words are derived directly from unlabeled feelings that I can’t exactly process in the moment I feel them. I write them down, forget about them typically, but find them again eventually and am hit with the authenticity of the few words or sentences scribbled on odd pieces of paper that fall from my coat pockets every time I reach for my keys. It’s a way to put it in a plastic tupperware box, snap a sealed lid over it, stick it in my freezer, and take a second to recover and breathe. It’ll keep stacked there in my mental mini fridge. Then, when I’m ready (or sometimes when I’m not) I can open the tupperware back up and the preserved sentiments are as fresh and as real as ever, but now I have a clear head and can begin to label and work with the emotions weaved into the punctuation. This chapter puts that process into more beautiful and not container-store related words.

    I’ve done this since high school. Once, while I was in an 8th grade English class, my teacher that true writers are ready to write at a moment’s notice, and oh boy did I take that to heart. From then on, I carried a small green notebook I titled “Use Your Words” around with me everywhere I went. It was small enough to fit in my purse or backpack, and literally sat on my nightstand next to my head while I slept. I’d write down whatever was in my head without thinking about whether it was worth writing down.

    Recently, I found this notebook in a shoebox thrown carelessly into a bin in my storage unit. I read it, and holy cow. It’s a trip. It ranges from names to consider for future dogs, to quotes I like, to beautiful poetry, to crushing growing-up stuff, to training drills, to random strings of words that make no sense, to hilarious occurrences, to an entire page just filled with scribbling (it would have been good twitter material if that had been a thing). Its intense and its real and its raw, and that’s the stuff the best writing comes from.

    I really like this chapter because of how Lamott shows she’s implemented this kind of writing in her own career. She talks about how writing down everything surrounding her father’s death helped her process everything and grieve. She displays this same conviction in the style of her writing when her friend Pammy dies and she writes of Pammy for her surviving daughter and for her son. These are the things you can’t make up; you have to live them first. Its horrible and its unfortunate, but its also the reason why most good writers have seen significant tragedy–it provides the best material.

  14. Cassidy Kramer

    I really liked Sherry Simpson’s story “Killing Wolves”. I relate to it greatly because I grew up being a trapper/hunter/fisher. I love trapping. The suspense of wondering if you have something in your trap builds up the whole time you are away from it. Either if you have something in it or not, I learn something new to become a better trapper with every trip.
    I believe that there are tons of good things that come with living subsistence. For most people, it is a source for food, clothing, and other things that were needed for our ancestors. Even though we don’t need these things anymore because they are provided for us through manufacturing, I still believe that subsistence is needed. I believe that it can create a great connection through culture. I do not have other things to connect me like language, so being active in subsistence is a way that connects me personally. It makes me feel good when I bring meat or fur to an elder because they smile down at me with a type of glisten in their eyes.
    I believe that there are good ways and bad ways someone can go about killing something. It is a very touchy subject, and if you are not from somewhere where it is normal and a part of your culture, you may be seen differently. For example, when I was fifteen years old, I went out and got a bear on prom night. Now in Alaska, and a few places down South, this is considered “extremely cool”. “I am so glad she is living out her culture, and I hope she keeps on doing so!” is an example of the comments I got when the Anchorage Daily News did a story on it. However, when the Seventeen magazine did the same story on me, the comments got very rude. “This girl should be shot for hurting that poor bear!” “Why is this a story? I would much rather hear about a bear killing the girl on her prom night! Now that is a story worth reading!”. Those are examples of comments I got from Seventeen magazine’s version of the story. Now these comments did not phase me, because I know that they just do not understand. Now we do not normally eat the bears we have here, especially the coastal ones, because they taste just plain nasty. However, we kill them because of predator control.
    I liked how Simpson used such descriptive detail throughout her story. The words she uses to describe things seen while out trapping, like the trap, will forever change the way I view them. I also liked how Simpson put the reader in a perspective to where they are learning from Simpson instead of trying to find reasons to call her out for being “biased”. Lastly, when she is describing skinning the wolf, she puts me in a place where I feel like I am there. Looking at the sinew of the wolf, smelling the smells, and listening to the knife on the animal. Simpson brought me home with this piece.

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