I am comfortable with the food chain, and I’m no PETA-belonging tree-hugger. I eat meat, wear leather, smush bugs, and own pets (dogs and cats, maybe an aquarium soon). I try to choose products like free-range chickens and eggs from nesting hens, and I eat beef because it seems that most cows have a pretty cruelty-free life (up to the last part, at least). I stay away from things like veal and pâté, which can’t be produced in non-cruel ways, and I don’t wear (nor buy as presents) any type of fur, since most fur bearing animals are raised solely so that their fur can be harvested for adornment, whereas the vast majority of leather comes from cows that were processed for meat, which is a necessity of life (sorry, vegetarians).
So, while I believe that man has the right to exercise his place at the top of the food chain, I also think that it is the very definition of humanity that we not objectify the natural world or feel that we have to right to do anything we want to animals, no matter how cruel or selfish, just because they are animals.
There’s a summary of my animal politics. I’m pretty much in the middle of the pack, in my experience, and I’m certainly not an extremist of any stripe.
David the Deer, Meet Goliath the Goober
However, I cannot even begin to understand “sport” hunting. In fact, I assert that there is no such thing as “sport” hunting, as sport implies some sort of contest between competitively matched opponents, and the last time I checked deer hadn’t started carrying high-powered rifles, or even wearing bullet-proof vests. No, in today’s world hunting is nothing more than ritualized killing. Slaughter for pleasure. Torture for gratification.
I can hear some of you out there saying that I don’t understand hunting (or fishing). But I do. I was raised in South Texas, and the opening of deer season was a national holiday for the males (and some of the females) in my family. Also, my family members ate what they shot or caught (for the most part), and were all from an income bracket where the game and fish brought into the household helped extend the meager family budgets. As a boy I had pellet guns, shot birds around my house, went hunting with my uncles, and fished 2-3 times a week in the summer. However, as I got older (mid-teens) I lost my taste for it, realizing that I did not experience the “thrill of the hunt”, and instead started to question my own humanity because I was attempting to kill simply for sport.
Bloodbath and Beyond (turn of phrase courtesy of The Simpsons)
And that’s really what it comes down to. Hunting is about killing. Period. Hunters can try to rationalize that it is about being outdoors, applying skills that allow the hunter to get close enough for the kill. But you can do all that without killing. Take a camera with you – no zoom