In Wisconsin, we have many splended opportunities to commune with the beauty of nature. One of the most satisfying is going out with a gun and blowing part of it away.

There is nothing quite like going into a lovely, peacful woods where no man may have been before to behold nature's beautiful creatures, then kill them.

As sport, this is the ultimate contest. Sometimes man wins. Sometimes nature wins. If the animals win, they get to live.

So far this season, modern-day gladiators have shrugged off the danger to themselves and gone up against such ferocious wild animals as ducks and squirrels and bunnies. It has been man against duck in a battle to the death. s

Killing little things is a much greater challenge than many people might realize. After all, the smaller something is, the harder it is to hit .

But all of that was merely a warmup for the weekend before Thanksgiving. The opening of deer season is what killing is all about.

It is what children dream about from the time they are able to squeeze a trigger. Those games where playmates scream and grab their chests and crumple to the ground pretending to die are nice. But those pale in comparison to the experience of inflicting death on a really great living thing.

You should see a magnificent buck or a doe crumple. Sometimes, if it isn't what is jokingly called a clean hit, you get to hear them scream, too.

This conflict is not without peril for the poor hunter. It may be true that the hunter is a little more heavily armed than the deer, but that does not mean it is an even fight.

After all, these animals are smart.

Who knows what sort of mean things deer would do to people if a bunch of drunks were not sent out to harvest them regularly?

You can't trust anything that sneaks around in the brush. If they had any guts, they would come out and fight like men.

That does not mean these animals don't have a few things going for them.

No less an authority than The Milwaukee Journal's outdoor writer, Jay Reed, has confessed that every time he has offed one of these animals, he has done it out of love.

"They have a class, dignity, loyalty and courage to a greater degree than do most humans," Reed wrote in a moving tribute. "When I hunt them and kill them within the rules of the game, I belive they understand."

They deer must be very proud. Just before that jolt from the .30-30 hits them, they cannot help but feel a little warm glow at receiving such an outpouring of affection.