In Brief—For fun, sport hunters in America and throughout the world are killing the creatures that are already going extinct as a result of human activity. It is time to put an end to this atavistic sport. The author suggests that, in the interest of thinning the human herd, hunters should hunt human hunters instead.
Killing for fun, fresh air and “sport”—
Imagine being penned in a chain-link fenced area, maybe with a few fellow creatures who, like you, have been placed there for the purpose of being hunted by a pack of crazed foxhounds and some humans with guns who are intent on shooting you, that is, if the dogs don’t tear you to shreds first.
On April 17, 2014 the New York Times described this shocking scene in Virginia, but it is taking place in some twenty states throughout the nation. Virginia politicians, in their infinite wisdom, decided that this barbarism must end…in forty years. That would be bad enough except a bunch of Virginia citizens are outraged that their “traditional and honorable” foxhunt is going to end…in forty years. It goes without saying that animal welfare organizations are pursuing this inhumane activity in the courts.
If the fox pens don’t get your juices flowing, how about the more than one thousand “captive hunting preserves” across the country, more than five hundred of these just in Texas alone. These “preserves” stock their locations with many semi-tame animals that are not only rare endangered species such as the Dama gazelle and the Arabian oryx but species that are already extinct in the wild, such as the Pere David’s deer. Semi-tame means that the animals, often bottle-fed from birth, come from private breeders, animal dealers and even circuses and zoos. They become victims of a trophy hunter’s zeal because of loose state laws and federal loopholes in the Endangered Species Act. Call for the total banning of these outrages. Sure, the killers will oppose the banning of their “sport,” but keep up the call for a total banning…and NOT forty years from now.
Who are the customers for these canned hunts? They are the guys (almost exclusively guys) who will pay tens of thousands of dollars for an animal head they can mount on the wall in their den. Sometimes, the trophy hunter will pay some African strong man thousands of dollars for the right to kill a wild animal in that country’s preserves. If the intrepid hunter is a bit nervous and merely wounds the animal, a bearer will kill the animal for him. The head will nevertheless go on the trophy hunter’s wall. Shooting fish in a barrel comes readily to mind.
If you think I exaggerate, I suggest that you do some basic research yourself. Many of the facts I present can be found on the U.S. Humane Society’s web site, an organization that was party to the “forty-year’ solution mentioned above.
And let’s not forget blood-thirsty wolf killing. In an alliance of ignorance, crazed hunters and political grasping, it’s hard to beat Idaho’s mass killing of wolves led by Gov. Clement Leroy Otter (Ah, the irony of that last name) who has boasted about wanting to kill Idaho’s wolves. Ignoring the outcries of environmental scientists who declare that wolves should be protected not slaughtered, Gov. Otter has willingly bent the knee to Idaho’s hunters. Coupled with the removal of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, it’s entirely possible that gray wolves will go extinct within just a few years unless something is done to restore sanity on wolf preservation.
Republicans Doing Their “Thing”—
As an aside, you will note that the attack on the Endangered Species Act that resulted in the delisting of the gray wolf came from the Republicans attaching the little-noticed amendment to a major budget bill sought by the Obama administration. There is little doubt that President Obama swallowed hard when signing the hard-fought budget bill. Thus, the Republicans can say with an almost straight face that Obama signed the delisting. That’s how the Republicans work. I have often said that I would be ashamed to admit I was a Republican any more. That’s just one reason I say that.
Killing for Fun and Profit—
Moving on with my major point, the latest figures (2013) on American hunters show that almost ninety percent (89%) are males with females comprising about 11% of the total. Most use rifles or shotguns while a tiny percentage hunt with a bow and arrow. Bowhunting is considered to cause more animal injury and pain. By the way, most of these bows are not the wooden ones used by Native Americans, but compound bows made of space-age composite materials. I have seen an arrow shot by a compound bow go halfway through a good-sized tree.
Why do hunters hunt? Today, we can rule out the necessity for getting food although some hunters rationalize their killing by saying that wild meat (animals, fowl and fish) is more natural and contains fewer harmful compounds (how about health food stores, folks?). The most frequently stated reasons motivating hunters are “having fun” or “getting out in nature.” Fun!
Inasmuch as the great majority of hunters are male, one reason could be male bonding. Seems to this observer that “having fun” or “bonding” can be gained through any number of other activities that are considerably less harmful to the environment and without the “fun” of killing an animal. Want to get out in nature? Try hunting with a camera instead of a gun. Try bird-watching instead of blowing the feathers off a poor bird.
Given the number of appalling negatives to hunting and killing, my contention is that so-called “sport” hunting should be banned. If hunting is to continue, then at least one other possibility exists as an outlet for the “thrill of the hunt,” the “thrill of the kill.”
A Swiftian Modest Proposal—
In 1924, the author Richard Connell published a short story titled The Most Dangerous Game. It tells the story of a man who finds himself on an island being hunted by a big game hunting fanatic who enjoys the thrill of the hunt but has gotten bored with the usual animals. Humans are much more intelligent and interesting. With that as my springboard, here’s a suggestion that could appeal to the committed hunter: let those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the thrill of the kill, hunt a creature of greater intelligence and cunning, another human. It’s hunting, but it greatly evens the odds.
Such a hunt would require rules and an enticing reward for participation. Here are the basic rules and reward I propose.
- All participants would be volunteers and would have to be as evenly matched as possible. There would be a novice level, two or three intermediate levels and an expert/professional level. Both sexes will be allowed, but female participants would usually be required to compete against females. Alternatively, there may be categories of male versus female, but both would have to fulfill the other requirements.
- Participants would be tested and required to be approximately equal on their knowledge and experience in the outdoors and on survival techniques.
- There would be offered one-day, three-day or one-week hunts.
- Both participants would have their choice of weapons: knives, the same caliber guns, or bows (or any combination), but both would be required to agree on the same weaponry.
- The terrain would have to be agreed upon.
- The award for the survivor would be immunity from prosecution and ten million dollars tax-free.
I’m sure readers can suggest other rules. Please feel free to make suggestions as well as to offer any criticism of my proposal you would care to offer.
My proposal aside, the “sport” of hunting is not just atavistic, grossly unequal in outcome and harmful to both animal life and the environment, it is unjustified and caters to greedy politicians who are always looking for reelection. Moreover, those politicians willingly bend the knee to the outsized influence of the hunting (killing) community. The sport can easily be replaced with target shooting and competitive events if the gun lovers need some outlet for their “fun.” But, of course, that wouldn’t satisfy the blood-lust of the hunter. Steps need to be taken now, not forty years hence.
I ask readers to loudly raise this issue in their area. Expect the usual outcry from Republicans, hunting organizations and the National Rifle Association (NRA) when “tradition” is threatened, but hang tough and keep raising the issue. Recruit like-minded friends. Attend political town hall meetings. Sound off. VOTE! Until this outrage is ended, animals and birds will continue to be killed by intrepid hunters who just want to have some blood-soaked “fun.”