ST. MARYS, Pa. – A Roman Catholic diocese has taken down the Facebook photo of a nun with a 10-point buck she bagged after the posting drew criticism, some of it vulgar, by anti-hunting and animal rights activists, the diocese said.
Sister John Paul Bauer killed the deer on Nov. 30, the first day of hunting season.
The photo posted on the Erie Diocese's Facebook page showed her, in her nun's habit, at the back of a pickup holding her trophy deer by the antlers.
Initial comments were largely positive, Anne-Marie Welsh, spokeswoman for the Erie Diocese, in northwestern Pennsylvania, said Monday. But as the page neared 1.5 million views, animal rights activists began taking offense, she said.
"We recognize that social media needs to be a two-way conversation, but unfortunately, many of those who oppose hunting posted vulgar comments, using profanity and even an obscene photograph," Welsh said. "After careful consideration, we decided to delete the post due to its inflammatory nature."
In a story about the hunt on the diocese's website, Bauer said she had just said the rosary up in a tree stand when deer appeared, and she killed the 200-pound buck.
"After I realized I got the deer, I thanked God," she said.
She said she views hunting as a spiritual endeavor and also a form of conservation, a way to help ensure that the deer population remains at a level that can be sustained by the land.
She had the buck butchered for sausage and steaks and shared it with two families. She also took the 16-inch rack to a taxidermist for mounting.
Bauer teaches at Elk County Catholic High School in St. Marys, a city about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, in the heart of deer and elk hunting country in Pennsylvania. She learned to shoot while in the Navy
"In St. Marys, this is what you do. You go hunting. Everybody goes hunting," she told television station WSEE in Erie.
She has killed three bucks and a bear during her 15-year hunting career.
"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," Bauer told the TV station. "It's like creation all over."