I grew up in western Pennsylvania, not far from St. Mary’s where Sister John Paul Bauer is from. A few days back, a Facebook friend from my childhood posted a photo of the hunting nun that he found on the Facebook page for the Hunting Pennsylvania community. Sister John Paul bagged her buck on opening day of deer season, which is always the Monday after Thanksgiving. Anyone from western Pennsylvania knows when opening day is because, even if you don’t hunt, you get the day off from school. Hunting in this region of the country is a part of the culture, as proven by what the good nun, who also teaches at Elk County Christian School, said in this report from Fox 2 news,
“In St. Marys, this is what you do. You go hunting. And everybody goes hunting. The coach, myself. The students.”
Since it was first posted,the photo has had over 1 million views.
Here’s more of the story from Fox:
Sister John Paul waited alone in her tree stand for about three hours for a possible target to wander by. While she waited, she prayed the Rosary.
Shortly after, a herd of doe arrived, followed by two big bucks. She bagged the largest one, a 10-point buck with a 16 inch spread.
Was it divine intervention?
“I’ve always prayed the Rosary on the tree stand. That’s a tradition. You get up in the morning, you pray the rosary in the tree stand. So, i just think the blessed mother did smile upon me.”
Growing up, Sister John Paul was never invited to hunt with her father and brothers. She learned to shoot while serving in the U.S. Navy. She returned to St. Marys as a nun and a hunter.
She says there is something spiritual about hunting.
“When you’re up on a tree stand, you’re still, you’re quiet. You listen. You watch as the frosty ground just becomes alive. It’s like creation all over.”
Not everyone was impressed with the sister’s hunting ability. There was a backlash on Facebook from some who felt that killing animals is just as bad as killing people. Several animal rights activists criticized her for destroying God’s creation. Sister John Paul responded:
She says it’s more about conservation than the thrill of the hunt.
She says without the deer harvest, the animals would starve.
And, she is right. The hunting community provides a service to the animal kingdom and to the human population. Without legal hunting, more animals would starve. In places like Pennsylvania, hunting is closely monitored by the State with limited licensing and tracking of the kills that are made. There is a part of me that doesn’t like the State intervention, but the fact that the State does oversee the process and that it is in the best interest of the animals should take the heat off the hunting nun.