Saturday, November 29, 2014

Talking to Non-Hunters About Hunting

I rarely attack non-hunters.  Most are simply curious and ignorant, and a little information can fill the empty vast space inside their heads.

  • Hawks pluck sparrows while they are still living? 

  • The water ditch along the side of the road is filled with the bones of animals struck by cars?

  • Do you think Mother Nature might have give use meat-cutting teeth for a reason?

  • Squirrels and chipmunks eat baby birds?

  • Soy and corn fields kill more animals through habitat removal?

  • House cats kill more animals than man and dog combined?

  • PeTA kills over 95 percent of the dogs at its shelter?

  • They should get themselves sterilized if they really want to reduce their impact on the environment? 

Two or three questions leave most people silent and thinking.

That said, it's worth noting that there are three major things that impact how the world looks at hunting:

  • The Nature of the Beast:
    The world is OK with killing ugly animals and destructive animals, but not animals that have ever been featured in a Disney film or in an Aesop Fable. So rabbits, hares and foxes are seen as cute cuddlies (they are), and since they do not do much harm (this is true), killing is frowned upon. Killing large predators is also bad (big fierce animals are rare) and so too is any rare animal (this is perception and has nothing to do with real rarity). I hunt fox with terriers, but it’s catch and release, and so it;'s considered odd but acceptable. I kill groundhogs, and since most people know they are a real agricultural pest, are not very cute, are fast breeders, and have never been featured in a Disney movie, this killing does not (generally) make me a bad guy.
  • The Speed of the Kill:
    If the dogs kill fast or if a human does the killing fast, then it’s generally permitted provided the animal is common. Everyone understands that all living things die, but if a human is involved it ought to at least die fast – that’s what we bring to the table, right? So if people ask, I make a point about the fact that I do the killing – not the dogs – and that when I kill it is very fast and very precise. When ratting, the dogs kill, but it is a blink of an eye and done to an animal that the world assumes carries disease.  Not too many people feel sympathy for rats, which have short lives and die at the hands of fox and dogs and hawks quite naturally.  Is a snap trap less cruel than a dog?  It is not faster!
  • The Tone of the Hunter:
    Trophy hunters are seen as people with small penises and big egos, while “nature dominance” hunters are generally seen as knuckle-dragging slobs who do not really appreciate the lives of the animals they are taking, or the habitat that those animals depend on for their existence. If you can speak passionately and scientifically about the dogs, the eco-system, the mortality and morbidity of the animals hunted, the need to protect forest, farm, field and creek, then you are given some space. Meat hunters are given some space, but it’s best if they are poor and actually need the meat. When people ask me what I do with the groundhogs, I tell them I recycle them to the fox. This makes them think – and it reminds them that death is always on deck. Am I bad for killing groundhogs or good for feeding fox? They generally decided the latter, but they are conflicted.  The idea that groundhogs are the natural prey of animals like fox and coyotes is something they have not thought about before.  In fact, most people have  not thought about how animals die at all.  They think they will die -- and that wild animal die -- in a soft dry place, gently lulled to sleep without pain or fear, on a morphine drip, and with Mozart on the tape deck.  In fact, most people die scared and alone and in some degree of pain in hospitals and nursing homes, while most wild animals are killed by other wild animals, starve to death in disease and illness, or crawl off to die shattered at the side of the road after vehicle impact.  The exit a skilled hunter offers a deer -- a bullet to the head -- is the same exit people people often use on themselves when they have a choice.


Curt said...

The author/farmer/enviromental "guru" Gene Logsdon once wrote, "In nature a natural death is unnatural."

If most people had to kill their own food, most people would be vegetarians.

I wrote that. :)

PBurns said...

Actually Curt, that's a sentiment that is provably not true.

The true history of man is that we hunted for meat and killed it ourselves for 2 million years.

This was what we did.

It is written the grooves on mammoth bones, spear points, and campfires the world over.

It is why we domesticated chickens, sheep, goats, camels, horses, cows, ducks, geese, and pigs. We raised our own meat and killed it too. It was alive in the market until 150 years ago as there was no refrigeration.

There is no trick or art in killing, and it is not shocking after you have done it and lived with it. This is the normal of a million years, and it is only the arrogance of modern lazy times when ripe fruit is delivered in winter and sugar and nuts come in a bag that we have embraced foreign foods such as potatoes and tofu, almonds, and pumpkins. There is nothing wrong with vegetarianism, but it is affectation of modern rich white people who have cheap food, close by, delivered in airplanes and trucks, harvested by unseen peasants many thousands of miles away. Few people are less connected to the land or to history than the modern American vegetarian.