Phillip is a friend I grew up with. He's a hunter and an outdoor writer. More than anyone I grew up with he's lived his dream. Phil Knows me as a tree hugging hippy who loves to pick on hunters.(I tell 'em stuff like if they want to be real "sportsmen" they should try MMA). I don't hunt. I try my very best not to kill the fish I catch for sport. Phil and I have had more than one discussion on sport hunting. he's much more articulate about it than I am.
anyone with an open mind might read this:
Let’s take a more objective look at this thing, if we can.
We all do a LOT of things we don’t “need” to do.
We drive to work, or to the grocery store… an activity that kills millions of animals and humans every year, yet who wants to give up the convenience and “freedom” of driving our own vehicle? We don’t feel like walking, or riding a bike, or taking mass transit.
We eat food produced by mass, agricultural conglomerates that destroy entire ecosystems through monocultural practices, the use of pesticides and herbicides, genetic manipulation, and sheer waste. We could grow our own, or buy from sustainable farms, but that’s more expensive and not always readily available. We don’t feel like tilling up our (non-native, invasive) lawns to plant some basic food crops, or spending more for food that’s healthier for the environment and ourselves.
We live in huge, inefficient single-family housing, displacing millions and millions of square feet of habitat because we don’t feel like living in cramped, multi-family units. We heat and air condition these homes, and power them to watch television, browse on computers, and light up rooms we’re not even occupying at a cost to nature that is insanely out of proportion to the comfort and convenience we receive.
We don’t need any of this for subsistence. Most of it gives us pleasure, or at least comfort. And it’s destroying the world in which we live… animals and plants alike.
Now, on the other hand, you have hunters… less than 12% of the entire country’s population. We go out with the specific intention of killing animals, but we do so under controlled conditions so that our actions are not harmful to the overall populations. In some cases, in fact, killing certain animals benefits the population at large. In other cases, the activity generates money which is used to protect and preserve habitat, fund research to better understand the environmental and ecological balance (for all animals, not just “game”), and, truth-be-told, generate employment for millions of people.
In light of other common human activities, hunting is actually a very benign undertaking.
Specific to the essay you read…
The point of the essay was to challenge the cliché of many pro-hunting arguments with the simple and honest facts. There are many reasons that the sport of hunting is defensible, such as population management and the generation of money through licenses, fees, and taxes. But those are not the reasons that hunters hunt. We hunt because we want to.
Like most other non-essential human activities, if we did not find pleasure in them, we wouldn’t do them. Whether it’s hiking, bicycling, or hunting, we don’t do these things because we have to.
So yes, hunting gives us pleasure. Killing, in itself, does not. I realize that’s a slippery distinction, because without killing there is no hunt. But you’d have to be pretty obtuse not to recognize that there is a difference between the experience of the hunt, and simply killing things. Hunting is not indiscriminate slaughter.
As to the moral “right” or “wrong” of killing animals for sport… that’s one of those things that can no more be justified than religious beliefs. Obviously, if hunters felt the same way about the sanctity of animal life that anti-hunters claim to, we wouldn’t hunt. We see it differently, though.
By and large, hunters recognize the animal in ourselves. Rather than placing ourselves “above” the animals as some would argue, we put ourselves with them. We take a role, albeit modernized and inconsistent, in the natural, predator-prey relationship. Some animals are predators, and others are prey. There is nothing wrong with a lion killing a deer, or with a hawk killing a rabbit. Why should there be anything “wrong” with a human predator taking an animal?
An animal still died to bring me that steak on the grocer’s shelf, or even to protect the soybean fields from which that tofu was derived. Someone is killing animals, daily, for each and every one of us to eat. Why would it be wrong for me to occasionally take the active role in that killing?
Is subsistence the only justifiable reason for hunting? Some hunters would argue (and I agree) that there’s more to sustaining ourselves than stuffing our bodies with food. For hunters, hunting provides a connection and understanding of nature and our places in it. That connection defies rational explanation, largely because it’s not entirely rational. But it can’t be denied, and it doesn’t have to be justified to anyone except ourselves.
The arguments of people who are truly anti-hunting are not entirely rational either. They feel a strong certainty that killing animals for sport is “wrong”. They can’t couch an argument in any logical grounds.
And thus… impasse.
So no. I don’t feel that hunting is “wrong”.
Selfish? Probably. But no more selfish than driving a private vehicle, living in a single-family home, or sitting here now on this computer typing out a message that is largely meaningless… it will not change the world. It probably won’t change your mind.
But you asked.
if you enjoy hunting and reading about hunting you'll love Phillip's blog. The hogblog
he loves those feral hogs.