May 03

The “Sport” of Killing

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.

Action Required—

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.”


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    • Jim Newton on May 3, 2014 at 08:17

    Just one more stipulation. All human to human hunters would be required to be registered Republicans.

      • Don Bay on May 3, 2014 at 13:25

      One modification is necessary: Keep in mind that not all Republicans are obstructionists and nut cases. The Tea Party wing qualifies on both counts: they are obstructionists and nut cases. Some Republicans are simply afraid. Too bad. They are not representing their constituents and they are not governing in the best interests of the nation. Still, I understand your frustration. They are turning America into an international joke.

    • Art on May 5, 2014 at 21:06

    Don…… Clearly, you are spending too much time writing, and not enough time reading or going to the movies. Consider this a doctor’s order: Read “The Hunger Games”…. then go see the movie.

      • Don Bay on May 6, 2014 at 07:22

      Thanks for the prescription, Doctor. Actually, I read “The Hunger Games” shortly after its release to see what all the shouting was about. Mediocre fantasy that reads as if it was written to be a movie. Big surprise there. Zombies sell well these days. Haven’t read the sequels and have no plans to. As for the film, my hearing problem precludes going to the flicks, but I will see if I can watch it on my computer with my trusty earphones. My suggestion is designed more for reality TV, sort of a cross between a National Geographic Special and Dirty Harry.

        • Art on May 6, 2014 at 17:24

        Maybe it’s time for you to write that book. If you do so, don’t be afraid to make it a mediocre fantasy….. and be sure to write it as if it were to be a movie. I would definitely recommend that you watch the movie….. not because the story is so great, but because the director did a spectacular job of creating a future that enabled viewers to briefly suspend their disbelief. All the best to you………Art

          • Don Bay on May 7, 2014 at 13:18

          I wish I lived up to the ability some have believed I have shown over the years. Writing this blog as honestly as I can is something within my reach, but writing a book—even a mediocre one—feels beyond my reach. Daughter Kathy is the writer in the family, and she’s good at it, but somehow the ability eludes me. I appreciate the suggestion, Art. I will weigh it, but I can’t give any promises. And besides, what will I write about?!

            • Linda on May 10, 2014 at 17:49

            YOU……and your take on your life’s experiences to date or a person based on YOU. Gosh, that was so easy for me to come up with and quickly when I read your “And besides, what will I write about?” You are a complex being and have had so many experiences most do not and all the while you THINK and RELATE to the world about how whatever you are doing impacts lives. Fantasy or fiction, it’s a story.

            • Don Bay on May 10, 2014 at 19:07

            You get right to the point! I need time to ponder the elephant I am asked to eat. You and Art seem to believe my checkered career is worth writing about, but the little worrisome gaps that periodically appear in my memory give me pause. Still, I promise I’ll give it thought. Now, what was I saying??? Oh, well, it’ll come to me.

    • Linda on May 11, 2014 at 06:10

    In response to your piece, I recalled a childhood memory of my husband’s. His father was an expert shooter and every year went dove hunting in the desert. He taught his son how to shoot and the necessary precautions in handling the weapon. The first time he took my husband to dove hunt, he was still in grammar school. He shot a dove and it fell from the sky. Unfortunately it was still alive and his father insisted he pick the bird up and break its neck. This was the first and last time my husband went hunting.

      • Don Bay on May 11, 2014 at 13:07

      Randy’s experience parallels my own. As a thoughtless child, I let fly with my slingshot and downed a beautiful bluejay that was scolding me. Shocked and remorseful at what I had done, I had to ask my friend to put it out of its misery. A lesson painfully learned. Here in Sweden, I have hit a deer and a fox when they darted into the road and I was unable to swerve or stop in time. I still carry the horrible memories of those occasions and will for the rest of my life.

      I am unable to comprehend the mindset of hunters. Unless in self-defense, it is simply atavistic, cruel and unnecessary. There is no justification other than bloodlust for such killing. Hunters can twist themselves into pretzels in an effort to justify their “sport,” but it’s rationalization pure and simple. Until it stops, humans engaging in the activity cannot call themselves truly civilized.

    • Donna on May 28, 2014 at 04:45

    I dislike hunting just as much as you do, and have never lived with guns in my family or household I just don’t “get” the thrill some hunters express.
    . I do recognize that some people hunt for food, and some kill for protection. Animals are even culled (what a horrible word) in order to protect areas of the environment.

    Actually, confining animals in a feed lot seems even more cruel that hunting them in the wild, and those cows, pigs, and chickens never have a chance. They all end up in the slaughterhouse.

    Perhaps to be really true to my principles, I should be a vegetarian – but I haven’t quite made that transition yet.

      • Don Bay on May 28, 2014 at 10:30

      Yep, hunting is an atavistic bloodlust that just won’t die out despite the rational arguments against it.

      Very few in America can legitimately claim that they hunt for food. It’s a thin excuse for the thrill of killing a wild animal. Meat is available and is cheaper at the corner grocery. Likewise, “protection” is the excuse ranchers use to allow them to exercise their bloodlust. Raising cattle for food is a nightmare for not just for the cattle themselves who are aware that they are about to be slaughtered, it’s a nightmare for the planet itself. It’s called “global warming” and they contribute their fair share to the gases that are feeding global warming.

      “Culling” is almost always demanded or enthusiastically supported by hunting organizations that see “culling” as an excuse to revel in the thrill of killing. Scientific experts infrequently recommend culling unless it’s for genetic reasons. Nature takes care of thinning the number of predators, of which humankind is the top predator, by the way. Hunters use “culling” as an excuse for expanding the number of deer, elk and moose they get to kill. They are willfully unaware that their favorite hunt victims are implicated in killing the forest by eating the tree bark in the winter.

      Then there is “Butch” Otter who has developed a supple spine in kissing the hems of Idaho’s hunters by allowing the slaughter of wolves despite the outcries of the scientific experts who oppose the wanton slaughter he has enthusiastically embraced to win votes. Talk about the thrill of killing, “Butch” Otter is the poster boy for for atavism.

      Becoming a vegetarian is easier than you think. Having two vegetarian offspring made it easier for us, I’ll admit. You can get all the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet AND a person will never have to worry about overweight. Habits are not easy to break, but they can be broken with a little willpower.

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