The Gross National Debt

Monday, January 3, 2011

Notes from the field.

I saw a Demotivational Poster with a picture of a hunter and a big critter dead at his feet.

The caption was: Sport means that both sides know they are engaged in a game.

Even in the Ancient Roman times when the Olympic Games occasionally turned fatal, the men participating knew they were engaged in a sport.

As I write this in northeastern Tennessee at a hunting lodge dining room surrounded by mounted fish and all kinds of four-legged animals, I am reminded hunting is not a sport. It is hunting. It is a hunter taking a weapon in hand for the avowed purpose of ending the life of some creature.

I've read of other hunters who say they do not like the kill. Some very famous names in the outdoor writing (hunting and fishing) world have made this statement. Then, I read of Ted Nugent doing his victory dance when he kills a deer or some other critter.

I wonder why, if the "hunter" does not like killing something, why is he even bothering to hunt? Why not just take a camera and take pictures? Meat is available in grocery stores and that writer makes well and away enough to buy meat.

The object of hunting is to terminate the life of some creature. Done right, the hunter is the one who ends the life of something else. Done wrong, the hunter can wind up being killed. In Africa, hunters are maimed and killed each year by the animals they hunt.

If you rejoice in the death of these hunters, I remind you I only said hunter. I never said who the hunter was. Certainly human hunters are killed. But so are lions, leopards, cheetahs and the other carnivore animals of the Dark Continent. These animals do not have the option of visiting a supermarket to buy a pack of ground round.

Do you rejoice in the death of a lion, which is too old to hunt and is driven from his pride to die of starvation?

It's hunting. It is not a sport.

It's a story as old as the first ameoba which chased down the first paramecium and engulfed it. The hunt takes place daily, millions if not billions of times a day across the planet.

It is also at times like this I wish for an animal rights activist (ARA) to debate. I can't find one who will engage me on the merits of the hunt. They always, infallibly, degenerate into insulting me and threatening me. They cannot debate the matter rationally. SOme time back I got ahold of one ARA who strongly objected to my hunting and the pictures I post of hunting.

I pointed out I also pick up and eat road killed animals. I asked if there was anything immoral or unethical about this.

The ARA fired back that no, this was not immoral or unethical, merely disgusting. And so the true colors come out.

I hunt.

I kill animals.

I eat animals.

I ask you, which is more ethical and moral - going out and killing an animal, taking it home and eating it or buying meat in the grocery store? I already know which is healthier.

You may not like hunters, but if you eat meat you cannot logically complain about me.

I am descended, just as the ARA is, from a line of hunters reaching back into prehistory. If you do not eat meat, you still stand on the backs of other hunters and survive in this world because of people who do hunt and who do eat meat.

1 comment:

  1. I've read some pretty savvy writers who have taken up this point before (Tom MaGuane, Jim Harrison and Russell Chatham, among others) and they make your point exactly. Hunting and killing aren't sport per se, but ancient necessities brought into the modern world. Killing game isn't something to celebrate or mourn, but something you do with humility and honor and you do it because it is an honest cultivation of a the reality that we must kill and eat to live. Something too often forgotten by those who have only ever seen their meat on a white Styrofoam platter with a blood sponge beneath it.

    Joseph Campbell maintains that the act of killing to secure our food is the root of our metaphysical difficulties as human beings, but also the beginning of all our spiritual paths, the 1st source of our mythologies. I believe he's probably right. It's a complicated matter which we should approach with a reserve of awe and humility.

    "Nobody who loves to hunt feels absolutely hunky-dory when the quarry goes down. The remorse spins out almost before anything and the balancing act ends on one declination or another. I decided that unless I become a vegetarian, I'll get my meat by hunting for it. I feel absolutely unabashed by the arguments of other carnivores who get their meat in plastic with blue numbers on it. I've seen slaughterhouses, and anyway, as Sitting Bull said, when the buffalo are gone, we will hunt mice, for we are hunters and we wany our freedom." ___ Tom McGuane "The Heart of the Game"

    _ Tristan


Hi. I welcome lively debate. Attack the argument. Go after a person in the thread, your comments will not be posted.