Revisited: Hunting for pleasure

In spite of the fact that I’ve lived in the South for last 29 years, I never quite understood the lure of hunting. I get the part about how appealing it is to get up in the middle of the night to traipse around in the woods while wearing loud or unstylish clothing. In a way, I guess it’s not that different from what I do going off to my corporate job early every morning, if you substitute “cubicles” for “woods.” I understand the camaraderie of hanging out with fellow hunters, sitting for hours of uncomfortable silence in a tree stand and occasionally discharging high-powered firearms in random directions. Again, much like work.

I just don’t get it why the guns have to be pointed at animals.

Don’t mistake me for one of those PETA types. I believe animals have absolutely no rights whatsoever other than to provide us with meaty flanks and maybe entertain us in the home, zoo or circus (though I’m not sure what goes on at a circus qualifies as “entertainment”). But I don’t see the point in searching the outdoors for them when most of their best traits can easily be found in a canned format on aisle 7 or sealed in plastic along the back wall of the local grocery store.

Actually, it’s not even the tastiest meats that are available in the wilds of the South. Here you’re largely limited to deer, possum, squirrels, rabbits and assorted birds, unless you’re lucky enough to stumble across an unguarded dairy farm. I sometimes see the deer gathered in the dark along the side of the road as I drive to work. They usually pause from whatever deer stuff they might be doing to watch me pass, then resume their wild life. Aside from the fact they’re usually clustered together like this, which makes me wonder if they’re talking about me or plotting some kind of deer terrorism, they’re not really that bothersome.

Squirrels (or as hunters say “squirrel,” as if singularizing them reduces the carnage) seem equally harmless. They’re running all through the trees in our yard and provide endless entertainment for our indoor pets watching through the windows — “cat television,” as my wife calls it. When you see them in the road, they’re either so panicked by your approach that they can’t decide which way to turn, or else already run over. The other assorted fauna – badgers and groundlings and such – are completely inoffensive, unless you try to cook and eat them.

Some hunters will argue that they pursue the sport not only for the food and entertainment, but that they’re also helping control the wildlife population. I dislike the idea of a ten-point buck tumbling across the hood of my car and antlers-first into my lap as much as the next person. But there seem to be so many more humane options for population control. Maybe Sarah Palin has some ideas, considering her experience with ruminant control and birth control. We know abstinence doesn’t work, but maybe that field-dressing we heard so much about (which I assume involves clothing the elk, moose and deer so they’re not so alluring to each other) could work.

With autumn now here, the hunting season in my state is now in full swing. This was recently brought to my attention by ads in the local paper for outdoors establishments that sell the necessary tools of death. The “dates to remember” column was particularly disturbing:

Sept. 1 – First segment of dove season. Limit 15 birds per day. We turn these graceful birds into symbols of peace and for their cooperation in this sham, this is the thanks we give them.

Sept. 1 – Canada goose season. Daily limit 15 geese. They’re talking about the same huge creatures we see waddling through the park and defecating at will? They have to be hunted? To me, they don’t seem all that hard to find.

Sept. 15 – Archery season for deer. Later in the season comes “muzzleloader” deer season, eventually followed by “modern weapons” deer season. So first they wound them with arrows, then give them powder burns a few weeks later, then finally escalate to laser-guided grenade launchers. Surely they can think of still more ways to kill deer. Hanging? Lethal injection? Beating them with a crowbar?

Oct. 12 – The start of National Wildlife Refuge Week. For one week, all is forgiven, and the animals are allowed to romp freely across the meadows. Just so they don’t get too comfortable, because next comes crow season and then quail season, both great opportunities for those who prefer eating feathers to meat.

I definitely sympathize with man’s inherent desire to master — or at least hassle — the natural world. The Bible tells us we’ve been given dominion over the Earth and all the animals and fish on it, and we have an obligation to handle this stewardship wisely. And I don’t see anything wrong with having a little fun at the same time by playing with archery equipment and muzzleloaders (whatever they are). I guess maybe it’s just a matter of how you choose your weapon and your victims.

Personally, I find there’s nothing quite so relaxing and invigorating at the same time as experiencing this mystical place where civilization meets the wild. With the scent of my freshly mown lawn still hanging in the air, I enjoy the crisp sound of a newly opened bag of fire-ant poison. The smell of the pesticide blends with that of the grass as I stalk across the back yard in search of those rounded mounds of reddish dirt. When I locate one, I dip my old jelly jar lid into the granular mix and gently disperse it across the ant hill, watching with a primeval sense of accomplishment as the doomed creatures fall prey to my caring but lethal stewardship.

In that moment, the hunter and hunted form a tandem as old as time. I brush furiously at my shoe to try to get them off of me.

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10 Responses to “Revisited: Hunting for pleasure”

  1. morethananelectrician Says:

    There are some hunters that have some issues with the processed meat industry and the methods used to enhance the “product.” I kind of hover in the middle of all of the issues…generally indifferent on the matter.

  2. annedemonium Says:

    Yeah, killing stuff for fun is a tad psychotic if you ask me. I am in law school in the south, and coming from Kennedy’s Massachusetts where gun ownership is a cardinal sin, I really don’t get what is so fun about watching animals suffer and die needlessly when the grocery store is right up the street. Perhaps if these hunters spent a bit more time at their local animal shelter, they might have a bit more empathy for the animals they maim.

    We covered this topic extensively in one of my classes, and the level of stupidity that ensued was staggering enough for me to cover it in my blog:
    http://www.annedemonium.wordpress.com

  3. tom1950 Says:

    PETA can also mean “People for the Eating of Tasty Animals”. An endeavor I subscribe to on my annual Colorado Elk hunt every October. Yum.

    T.O.M.

  4. Phillip Donnelly Says:

    Without meat, humans would not be what they are today. Let’s assume that that is a good thing and conclude that without the first part of the hunter-gatherer hyphenated noun we would still be in the trees and not blessed with the enlarged brain that allows Davis W to post and me to comment. So, in spite of my vegetarian abhorrance of eating meat, and therefore of killing animals, I must admit that hunting once had a purpose. A protein-rich diet has made us what we are. But surely now, with that protein available in from a variety of other sources, we should eschew flesh and repress the carnivore within. And as for hunters, I’d quite like to hunt them.
    Perhaps I should start an assosciation of vegetairian hunter hunters. We could stalk the forests at night, appearing from the undergrowth armed with animal rights pamphlets and Ghandi MP3s. And if that did not persuade them, we could threaten to sing Morrissey’s ‘Meat is Murder.’ Even if it didn’t dissuade the hunters from slaughtering innocents we would at least scare away their prey.
    So, join ‘Hunt the Hunters’ today and collect your kilo of tofu.

  5. annedemonium Says:

    I’m telling you, I have the best solution ever:
    http://annedemonium.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/rant-law-school-idiocracy-healthcare-deathcamps-and-motorcycles-more-valuable-than-tuition-paying-law-students/

  6. tychy Says:

    american hunting is unimaginative and kinda lame… in england, the ruling class hunted foxes whilst dressed in pink jackets and blowing bugles – i think that this shows Nature who is boss.

  7. fakename2 Says:

    Davis I live in a thoroughly suburban area of Tallahassee, but not long ago one of my neighbors confessed that she and her husband secretly shoot squirrels with BB’s in their backyard, and eat them. (I think that’s against the law–the shooting part anyway–but I’m not turning them in.) I’ve got some issues with squirrels. And pigeons. And fleas. And mosquitos. And fire ants. But I only try to kill the latter three. It’s all so complicated.

  8. thirdcoast61 Says:

    There have been times when I’ve wanted to shoot my neighbor with a BB gun, does that count? Excellent work Davis, I too mainly hunt Fire Ants.

  9. pigeon hunter Says:

    shooting birds in the woods is fun because we could have meat for dinner, this was an interesting experience

  10. chaendeura Says:

    hunting for pleasure, pleasure for hobby, hobby for health, health for live… amazing nice post, thanks for share…

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