WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
About three weeks ago Davidmsc posted some thoughts about hunting
. And about not hunting. Now I sincerely don't want to offend Davidmsc (not the least because he's one of the few blogs that link to me), but he's been very succinct in stating the arguements that most anti-hunters like to use.
Davidmsc is very honest in stating that he doesn't understand hunting. In fact it's pretty clear that he's against the whole thing. He even goes on to state that he's not against the right of people to enjoy the hobby but he also describes hunting itself as bloodlust, bizarre, something that is boring. Then he points out that he'll be taking pictures of wildlife when he moves to Montana.
Like most people uncomfortable with the idea of hunting Davidmsc focuses on the act of killing. This is the point of the hunt and it's a disappointment if a season should go by without any game being harvested. But the main motivation for hunting is the same as for the most ardent anti-hunter: a love of the wild places.
Most people dream of being able to walk for days without hearing anything except birdsong and the wind. Or to wake up and crawl out of the tent to find that a blanket of snow had fallen during the night, and not a single man made track was to be seen. Those with a great deal with imagination would think about standing on a mountain with the whole world spread out in front of them, watching dark clouds move in and knowing with certainty that they could die if they didn'tt find shelter before the storm hit.
It sounds like an novel from 1900 with a gentleman adventurer risking life and limb in darkest Africa. But it happened in the U.S., and it happened to me. I'm a hunter.
Hunting goes beyond a love of the wild. It's also absolutely necessary to preserve wildlife. There's an image that most people have of wildlife living in idyllic splendor
, of magnificent creatures
in perfect harmony with their surroundings
. This is bunk. Like any other organisms, game creatures will breed beyond their food supply. Weakened by starvation and the stress of overpopulation makes large game animals particularly vulnerable to disease. There's simply no where for the game animals to go, since highways and roads
, urban sprawl
, and industry
all block migration routes. In fact, except for some large Western states
there isn't any place where deer CAN migrate. Every time an anti-hunter marvels at the sight of a deer they're ignoring the fact that hunting is responsible for preserving the population of large animals.
But it even goes beyond that. All of these State parks
are supported in a large measure by fees that hunters have to pay
. Unless an anti-hunter is making a contribution to the State agency responsible for wildlife preservation
they are freeloading off of hunters every time they step on public land in search of wildlife to photograph. Even Federal parks and public lands
, while not supported by hunting fees, still have to manage their wildlife population exactly the same way that State parks do
The refrain most often heard from the anti-hunters is that photography can take the place of hunting. The great outdoors can be enjoyed and images of wild creatures can be taken. But consider: how much would it cost
to buy a camera, and how much would it cost for lenses and accessories
that are necessary to capture elusive game animals on film? It's very possible to outfit a hunter for $300.00 or less. Most of the gear will last for years, if not generations. I happen to own a rifle that was made in 1897
, and it still shoots as straight as ever. Many hunters are still using the guns that their grandfathers owned. This means that hunting is a sport that's within the means of practically everyone. That simply can't be said of photography. After all, there's a very down to earth reasons why many low income families hunt and very few are avid photographers.
Does this mean that I think anti-hunters are elitists? Yeah, pretty much. Although I have to point out that it's probably due to a lack of empathy more than anything else. For example, Davidmsc states that he can see the appeal of a hunter eating what he kills because it's "easier than finding a decent restaurant" that serves wild game. But the one thing that he doesn't seem to realize is that game restaurants
that have to be seen to be believed
, placing a meal featuring wild game outside the means of even a middle class family. A low income family can have a few hundred pounds of meat in the freezer through hunting, and that could mean the difference between having a little meat in the stew for six months or just eating mac-and-cheese. Those that don't understand how hunters can find their sport to be exciting can certainly understand the appeal of feeding the kids.
But the main reason for hunting is to have the oppurtunity to see and do things that most of us never can. Chances are that the majority of us will die in a hospital with tubes stuck in our arms. For many of us it will be a time of sadness, of wondering if we could have done something different with our lives.
Not for me. It's true that I've never done anything memorable, nothing to make the history books. But I've had moments where, if I squint real hard, I can feel a little bit like a real Victorian adventurer
That's enough for anyone.