Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What is the Thrill of Hunting?

The L.A. Witness web site has an interesting article entitled Blood Lust, which leads me to ask the question, "What is the Thrill of Hunting."

The gray wolf had been on the Endangered Species List until last March. So successful was their comeback that it was determined, over the protests and predictions of environmentalists, that they could safely be removed from protection.

The species had flourished, its population growing by about 20% a year since wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995. This was proof the Endangered Species Act worked, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said when it delisted the wolf in March.

What they didn't count on, apparently, was the efficiency with which hunters would reverse the thriving situation of the wolves.

Some wildlife biologists say the damage is already done. Nearly all of the known wolves in Wyoming’s free-fire area were killed in little more than a month.

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the process needed to put wolves back on the endangered species list.

What I'd like to know is what the attraction is in this so-called sport? It occurs to me that stalking and shooting animals is nothing more than an acceptable version of doing the same to other humans. There were several films about this, you know, the eccentric millionaire who kidnaps people and sets them free on his property giving them a head start before he comes hunting them. Is that it? Is it a way to act out fantasies that are pretty much denied?

Do you think there's a similarity between the good guys who hunt and the criminals who commit crimes with weapons? Or is it just a sport like target shooting but more challenging?

Please tell us your opinion.


CNN reports that today three western states have returned the gray wolf to the list.

The blogs all seem to be in agreement. Maximum Likelihood, Michelle's Live Journal, and with a humorous touch, Seriously Guys. Where are all the hunters?


  1. I have no earthly idea and never have...

  2. I've never had a problem with hunting for food. I've never done it, but I have friends who do. I especially praise those who do it with a compound bow. Seems more fair to me. And deer meat is delicious.

    I liken it to fishing. When I fish, I only keep what I am going eat. No trophies to stuff. That is a magnificent animal and putting it up on your wall seems barbaric. To me.

    But hunting wolves? Unless they are preying on your livestock, that's just evil.

  3. If you think about sports, it typically involves equally matched opponents. Football players, tennis players, etc. all have the same gear. So I always think if the animals can be armed and retaliate fire at the hunters, then it is a sport.

  4. This is such a wrongheaded question I don't know where to start.

    A: It's one of the most challenging activities one can endeavor to do.

    B: It provides food and keeps one's survival skills sharp in case you end up where there's nothing shinkwrapped for sale at the local grocers and keeps one in touch with where meat really comes from.

    C: I often wondered why people never attack fishermen for fishing being a bloodsport but hunting often comes up.

    D: It's not just about the hunt, it's about living with and amongst the land as humans as hunter gatherers did for millenia. One has not lived until one has "made his own steaks."

    E: Because of the reduction of natural predators, game management of many species is required unless you prefer to have them hit by cars and starved to death.

    I have no earthly idea why anybody would ever question something that's been part of human culture since it's very inception. Without the desire for more successful hunts, humans may never have banded together into societies to begin with.

    I could go on for millions of pages or you could go hunting a few times. I think the latter would be more useful. If all you are willing to do is read, I'd suggest you read The Hunting Instinct and Fourteen years In the African Bush to start.

    I don't understand people watching sitcoms but I don't think it should be outlawed.

    And, FINALLY, a lot of ranchers in that region NEVER WANTED THE GRAY WOLVES BACK! They are predators and kill livestock, that's what they do, being WOLVES. The reason that so many got whacked so fast was a lot of people that live in the region NEVER WANTED THEM BACK.

    I was born in Western Montana, I know the people there well (not counting the arseholes from california that have f*cked up Missoula and it's surrounding areas). Wolves aren't welcome on most any ranch and wolves don't stay in State Parks. You can't say "Mr Gray Wolf, you can come back but only live on this 'wolf reservation'."

    Is a 275lb linebacker crushing a 135lb receiver in a crunching tackle "equally matched opponents"?

  5. One thing to add regarding "keeping of trophies".

    Souvenirs. Memories. The animal is dead and you have eaten it. What good is it to waste a beautiful hide or rack of antlers or fashion something out of the body parts that would otherwise be thrown away? This is different than people that collect dead animals for trophy rooms to impress their friends, often including animals they didn't even hunt, but purchased from taxidermists.

    Was it wrong to make an Oryx hide into a sheath for my favorite hunting knife or should I have left the hides and bones to the bush pigs, warthogs, and hyenas?

  6. i don't hunt, never have, never likely to --- seems like too much work for too little reward to me. i can see some attraction in walking the wild and getting close to wildlife, but i can do that for recreation without the added difficulty of trying to kill said wildlife --- never mind trying to drag a carcass out of the woods and field dressing it. not for me, those two.

    that said, i don't get the logic of folks who think modern hunting is "unfair" to the game. sure it is; that's good. "fair" hunting seems like it would be much more likely to wound animals, to kill them slowly and inhumanely, and to end up leaving wounded animals in the bush to die. that's sloppy work, and added suffering, for no more reason than some abstract "fairness" --- i don't understand that. which is why i don't agree with single-shot hunters, much less muzzleloader season.

    the "fairest" method of hunting would be running around the woods naked, slicing deer throats with a hand-knapped flint knife. i can't speak for the deer, but if it were me, i'd rather be shot.

  7. I often think that IF there would be some sort of world wide disaster wiping all the supermarkets out most of us would die in a month.

    For my parents and grandparents it was a totally normal thing to kill a chicken. Me? my chicken comes nicely and hygienically wrapped in clingfilm from the chiller cabinet at Sainsbury, and it would take me a long time to even contemplate wringing one poor chuck's neck. I suppose a hungry stomach could do that though.
    But sport?? I cannot see anything "sporting" in that.
    Kill an animal if you are hungry but not for the fun of it.


  8. nomen:
    Here in .tx.us a $64.00USD hunting license entitles you to seven deer, 5 wild turkey, bag limits (like fish catch limits) of birds and small game, catch limits of all legal fish to catch, and all the feral and non-native species you want.

    That's a lot of meat for the money if you are successful. Some of us prefer to garden and hunt our own meat and fish our own fish rather than go grocery shopping just like some people like to make their own bread.

    I used to make beer as a hobby and got out of it as a hobby except the odd batch for the hell of it because the savings and enjoyment weren't in line with all the washing of bottles and hassle of bottling and ferments gone wrong. Somewhat like why you wouldn't bother going deer hunting?

    Around here, you can't throw a rock without hitting a white tail deer or rabbit...there isn't a whole lot of effort involved.

    That said, there's been quite a bit of effort involved in my African and Rocky Mountain hunts. Enjoyable in a different way. Why just take pictures when you can see what they taste like? I never understood photo safaris...go around pestering dangerous beasts with nothing but a camera...seems like suicide to me.

    Different strokes for different folks. I'm with you on deer preferring to get zapped by a high powered rifle, often in the brain, than stabbed with an arrow, gutshot with a muzzleloader, or chased down with spears...much quicker and more peaceful exit in life to use modern tools.

    Almost no game animals die of old age, anyway. Starvation, disease, and cars get them if predation doesn't. Humans are the only animal arrogant enough to think it deserves to live to it's body's "natural" old age.

  9. I knew Mike would get a Assfull of Thomas Boot for that statment. You were a tad over the line, Mike.

    Definitely if hunting was so "Unfair" why would there be a market for gross and humiliating things like buying vials of Doe urine? Or those goofy Camouflage jump-suits?

    I'm a shooter, I LOVE game meat, and I LOVE the outdoors. But I don't hunt. Why? because all the scouting, stalking, waiting, and patience is a lot of work for the hunting licenses I'd need to buy (and I'd have to go out-of-state in Maine, as Mass is a fucking MESS for hunters!)

    Really the point I don't get are people who eat store-bought meat (I know you're a veg, Mike) but yet think hunting for meat is barbaric.

    Totally cool with hiring others to kill and butcher their meat, but god forbid somebody decided to skip the middle man!

  10. Not a hunter myself, from everything I've heard, it's the strange mix of exhilaration and sadness that comes from holding dominion (and ultimately ending) another powerful animal's life.

    From a philosophical standpoint, I'm more interested in why we DO feel a connection to some animals more than others, and why or how this connection lies on such a sliding scale.

    People do love to moralize, but the only really clearcut moral positions are out-and-out vegans or NRA-card-toting carnivores.

  11. What about me, Ryan? I resigned my life membership with voting privileges from the NRA because I thought they were allowing too many gun control laws to pass. =]

    As to brutal treatment of animals, I've worked in slaughterhouses. Hunting ain't got nothing on slaughterhouses as far as brutality goes.

    I have gotten paid to cull coyotes and deer and I was much nicer to them than we were to the pigs and cows in the meat factory.

  12. Well, to a certain degree I agree with you, Tom. I'm interested why so many people (myself included) do feel more ambivalent about slaughter houses than we do about hunting. By any standard, it's worse for a chicken or pig in a slaughter house than a hunted deer. I think it comes down the personal connection - slaughter houses are institutionalized, whereas hunting is a very personal experience.

    The same argument goes for bullfighting in Spain. Those bulls lead pampered lives... until they're goaded and killed over a ~30 minute period. What's worse?

    And culling, for environmental or safety or economic reasons is a very different and completely justifiable story. Folks who oppose that are at the vegan end of the crazy scale, in my opinion.

  13. Ryan,
    Personal anecdote warning

    I once lived in a place where we had a "cat lady" that fed feral cats on her property (she did not keep them in her home like internet cat ladies) and they were terribly destructive of property of surrounding homesteads and of the local wildlife.

    Her husband took to bludgeoning them and poorly shooting them with a poor air rifle because he hated them and what damage they were causing. I (statue of limitations are up) fed them 4.5mm/8.06 grain match grade pellets in the brain stem. She said to me "I know I'm nuts about feeding all of them, but at least you kill them properly and cleanly and don't wound them like my husband does."

    As for institutionalized vs personal killing, I never really grasped meat as a concept until I'd gutted my first fish and wrung the neck of my first chicken, which I did poorly and it got up, still well alive, with a slightly off kilter neck and I had to catch it again and dispatch it properly. I was teased and berated mercilessly for months after that chicken incident for causing an animal to suffer instead of killing it properly.

    On a tangential note, this evening I had the pleasure of the company of a friend of mine and his sons for dinner, Texican style. He's had to dispatch feral humans as part of his LEO and Military career. We talked about a lot of things, guns and hunting included, and there wasn't a bit of either one of us that wanted to re-visit those old wounds that never heal in the mind. It's pretty easy to kill a monkey if you are a hunter or a farmer, but it's really hard on a person to kill a human, even in entirely justifiable and unavoidable (unless you wanted to die yourself instead) self defense cirumstances.

    None of us has ever raised a glass to the death of a human. We raise our glasses to forgiveness and not letting fear and hate cause you to become one of the humans that ends up getting culled or to be deserving of such.

    Painting hunters as bloodluster murderers is silly. Yes, there are such sick people that exist, but there are sick dentists that finger-f*ck their patients while under sedation to get their jollies...

    All humans are fallible, but one must not always look for the worst in things. I'm sure if you look for the worst you will find it, but why would you want to?

  14. Kristi, Thanks for your comment. I was thinking that too, but I found Nomen and Tom's explanations very interesting. The idea being that the closer to "fair" we get when hunting the crueller it becomes. Fascinating.

    I also enjoyed the comments about the difference between hunting for game meat and what comes out of the slaughterhouse. I became vegetarian for exactly that, because I don't want to support the mass production.

    Ryan, Thanks for your comments too. I'm somewhere in the middle of "out-and-out vegans or NRA-card-toting carnivores." I like to philosophize though.