It wasn't a great way to wake up today: checking my Facebook feed while still in bed and seeing a photo of a deer a relative had shot in Indiana. I felt sad for the dead buck.
But my relative was pleased he'd killed the deer. A bunch of comments from his Facebook friends were universally congratulatory. Nice job. Great looking deer. Congrats and yum! Excellent. What a beautiful rack...
There were more along those lines. My Facebook comment was decidedly different.
Sad, and even disgusting, says this animal loving vegetarian. Hunting for sport is cruel. Got to speak my mind.
After getting a response from another relative defending killing the deer in the name of wildlife management, I left another comment.
I'm just telling you how I feel. That photo made me feel terrible. OK, maybe killing beautiful wild animals is necessary at times. But humans should do it sparingly with sadness, not gleefully. Other commenters are happy when they see a dead deer photo. I'm saddened.
Here I want to explain why I feel the way I do.
Well, insofar as I know the why. Feelings are mysterious creatures. Much like wild animals do, emotions roam freely within our psyches, arising from hidden places and departing to unknown realms.
There's obviously a wide gulf between the way I feel about this photo, and how others do. That's fine. We're all different. I didn't intend to be moralistic or judgmental in my comments. Just honest. Which I'll continue to be now.
I'm not out to change hunters' minds. I'm simply sharing what's on my mind.
My first and only kill for sport.
I grew up in Three Rivers, a small rural town in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Deer hunting was common. The usual progression for a boy was bb-gun, pellet gun, .22, deer rifle. I'd progressed to pellet gun.
A neighbor boy and I were playing around with ours. I aimed at a song bird sitting in a bush. It fell down. Dead. Walking over to it, I remember feeling terrible. A moment ago it had been alive. Now it wasn't. I had killed it for no reason.
After that I never fired a gun at a creature that didn't need killing.
I own several guns now, including a shotgun that is used for doing away with ground squirrels who were burrowing under our home's foundation and wrecking our garden. I never feel good when I kill one. Once I shot a gray squirrel by mistake.
When I realized what I'd done, I felt just like I did when I shot the songbird. Terrible. Nobody taught me to feel this way. My mother wanted me to learn how to hunt. I was an avid meat eater. I'd never been exposed to animal rights ideas (this was the early 1960's).
Killing an animal for no good reason just intuitively seemed wrong to me. Did then. Does now.
I became a vegetarian at the age of 20. Before that, for a while I had continued to eat fish. Then I was served a prawn, all curled up on my plate. As with the bird, I thought, "This animal was alive until it was killed because of me."
I never ate meat or fish again. Forty-six years later, I've got no urge to. Because...
Other animals have conscious lives, just like us.
It bothers me when people de-animalize themselves.
Humans are animals. After billions of years of evolution, we are related to every other living entity, including bacteria, insects, fish, and other animals. There isn't any sort of gulf or divide between us and them. Life on earth is a continuum.
I've read a lot of books about neuroscience and the philosophy of consciousness. This can be complicated stuff. A key simple idea, though, is that what it means to be conscious is this: there is something like to be a conscious creature, something it is like for that organism.
This seems undeniable.
I know there is something it is like to be me. You know this also, for you. Every dog or cat lover understands their pets also have conscious lives. Farm animals too. And wild animals. Including deer.
Before being killed by my relative, the buck was going about its life as a conscious being. Just like we do.
Sure, we don't know what it is like to be a deer. Or a bat. Or any other human, for that matter. It is entirely possible, though, to feel empathy and compassion for other conscious organisms even if we can't know what their consciousness is like.
My wife and I live in rural south Salem, Oregon. Deer abound in our neighborhood. Recently we were about to turn into our driveway when I saw a young buck standing by the side of the road, munching on grass. I stopped the car.
The deer looked at us. We looked at the deer.
Again, I have no idea what being a deer is like. But looking into its eyes, albeit from afar, it seemed obvious that it was like something to be that deer. To kill that something for no good reason, just for sport -- I could never do that.
Science fiction films such as "Predator" show us what it would be like to be hunted by aliens who consider humans to be creatures worthy of being killed for sport. I wonder how a deer hunter would feel as his wife, children, and then himself were killed one by one.
Hey, the aliens are just harvesting us for food, or fun, or any reason they come up with.
They're more intelligent than us, with a better ability to kill. So what if we're conscious, as they are? The morality of deer hunting says, "It is OK to kill another highly-evolved conscious creature for no good reason."
It's not all about us humans.
Look, I understand the argument hunters make about killing deer and other wildlife being necessary to maintain animal populations at a desirable level. This makes some sense. But not a whole lot.
Because the argument is centered on humans. One species, Homo sapiens. The species which is destroying the planet on which it, and every other life form, depends for existence. We are in the midst of a Sixth Extinction caused by us.
There are many reasons for this ecological disaster, which is being exacerbated by global warming -- another example of the human propensity to wrongly believe, "It's all about us." Meaning, we can do whatever we want to other life forms and the planet, and everything will turn out fine.
Wrong. It won't.
Thoreau wisely said, In wildness is the preservation of the world.
With every bit of wildness destroyed, so is the world. A wild deer is priceless. I'm no Thoreau, but whenever I sense deer, coyotes, racoons, cougars, and the many other animals that live in and pass through our rural neighborhood, I feel enriched.
I can't understand how anyone feels that a dead deer is more valuable to humanity, and the world, than a live deer. I look at the photo of the buck killed by my relative and feel a deep sense of loss.
Wildness has to be preserved. Or we won't be.
It isn't possible to draw a line and say, "It's OK to destroy wildness up to this point, but no further," because history tells us that this line keeps on being pushed in the direction of more destruction.
One dead wild deer. No big deal. There's plenty more beautiful majestic bucks where that one came from.
That's the attitude of hunters. Humans know best. Killing wildness is fine. It's all about us. Other animals exist to serve our needs, not to exist as conscious creatures on their own.
I disagree. I have since I killed that song bird at age 12 or thereabouts. I'm pretty damn sure I always will.
Lastly, my wife wants me to mention this additional truth.
If some deer need to be killed to "cull the herd," it makes no sense to kill the best specimens with the best genes and largest antlers. This is exactly opposite to what happens naturally.
Wolves and other top predators kill the weakest animals, not the strongest. This leads to a healthier herd, a natural balance of nature. But we humans jump in and interfere with nature's wisdom. We irrationally fear and hate top predators like wolves and cougars, killing them needlessly almost to extinction.
Then humans complain, "There are too many deer."
Or, if the population of top predators has been allowed to recover, hunters gripe, "There are too few deer." Either way, we've messed around with nature's wildness, and nature is telling us Back off, you idiots. Understand that you are part of nature, not separate.
Do you feel similarly upset when a cheetah eats a Gazelle? Or a bass eats a minnow?
I don't like to watch those nature videos on natural geographic or wherever where a cheetah chases a terrified gazelle, catches it, and then chews on it, still alive, but that's nature. I didn't like watching when I was a kid and my cat caught and killed birds and mice and would play with them like a toy, still alive, but that's nature. They were training. Practicing for later hunts. Was it horribly cruel? Yes. Did I try to stop them when I saw them? Yes. But it is natural. Nature is cruel and often gruesome. It's hard to look at sometimes, but turning a blind eye to it doesn't make it go away.
You're right, we are destroying nature all over. We are by far the worlds worst "invasive species". We as a people need to find ways to cut tht crap out. But we also need to do our best when we can to help maintain the ecosystems that we have. One way in which we do that is hunting. We are natural predators and have always been a primary predator for many prey species. Yes, our tools have changed, and have made it so we can take stronger members of the prey species, and that can be negative. But if you've seen the deer population in places like Indiana, you'll no we aren't exactly decimating the population with these tactics. The deer are doing just fine. Their numbers are higher than they have been in many years. They are actually overpopulated in most areas. But they are very strong and healthy (except in those areas where overpopulation is wildly out of control and there is not enough food, primarily parks where hunting is illegal).
The argument about not taking the strongest of the herd would be a good one, IF you were still in favor of harvesting 100's of thousands of deer, but leaving stronger ones. But if you are NOT in favor of large deer harvests, then you are not really thinking correctly in terms of what is best for the group as a whole, so worrying about whether some of the strong ones are taken is sort of useless. Without hunting, NONE of them would be strong. They would all be weak and sickly. Is that better? (By the way, the idea that hunter's only shoot large bucks is an incorrect one. Yes, many hunters dream of the chance to take a "trophy" buck, but deer tags are given out in such a way that limits the number of bucks taken, and most hunters are most interested in just getting meat for their freezer, and not so much about getting a buck. Mostly does are taken, and not only the largest and strongest. Deer of all shapes and sizes are taken. Basically a random sample. Not ONLY the weak, young or old, but also not ONLY the strong.)
You mention shooting the ground squirrels because it is necessary to protect your home's foundation. Well shooting deer is absolutely necessary to protect the entirety of our Indiana wildlife. When deer populations run unchecked, they literally eat EVERYTHING within reach. You used to see it at Brown County state park. There were no ground plants. There were no leaves on trees below about 6'. (It was called the "browse line" and you could see it throughout the whole forest. Perfectly trimmed. Not a leaf to be found below that level) and why else you would see was scrawny, malnourished deer. Literally with their ribs showing. All because they lived in a large area where hunting was forbidden. The forest foundation was being destroyed, and something had to be done to stop the deer from doing it. And the answer was to reintroduce their natural predator. Man.
Posted by: Zack | November 02, 2014 at 09:10 PM
Zack, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I have a few reactions.
First, I'm sure you agree that while humans are animals, we are the most evolved animals. Our consciousness, intelligence, and sense of self-awareness are much different from other animals.
So just because other animals kill for pleasure, or instinctually, this doesn't mean that we should only aim that high. Human morality encompasses much more. Increasingly, it includes conscious animals who suffer needlessly because of human actions (hunting for sport, factory farming, cruel research practices, and the like).
It may be that some thinning of animal populations by humans is needed, now that we're screwed up natural ecological processes.
However, one of my main points in this post is that this should be done sparingly and sadly. Not gleefully. Whenever I see someone posing with a big smile next to a dead big horn sheep, or whatever, in the sports pages of our local newspaper, I feel sick to my stomach.
Wow. What a man. Or woman. He or she killed a defenseless creature at long range with a high-powered rifle. Gutless. Cowardly. Go to Hawaii or Africa and try to kill a wild pig with a knife if you want to prove your bravery. Hunting takes no courage and little skill, just some technology.
So I'm looking for more human compassion and sensitivity from hunters (and yes, fisher people, because fish feel pain and suffer) than I'm getting and understanding. There is a gulf between those of us who feel the pain of animals killed needlessly, and those who glory in this.
I'm not sure what causes the gulf. I don't think it is voluntary. Those who enjoy killing for sport are as helpless in their enjoyment as those, like me, who feel terrible about animal suffering are in their distaste for this.
I hope that, with time, humans will evolve culturally (and maybe even genetically) to widen their sense of concern further beyond their own species. Presently most people only love animals that inhabit their homes, or barn yards. Wild animals are viewed as creatures to "harvest," or to kill for enjoyment.
Yet when a kitten or puppy is trapped in a well, people go crazy trying to save it. Then they go home and eat factory farmed chicken, cow, or whatever. Doesn't make sense.
Posted by: Brian Hines | November 02, 2014 at 10:01 PM
"Hunting takes no courage and little skill, just some technology."
I think you have a false idea of how hunting works. It absolutely DOES take skill and hard work to be successful on a consistent basis. Most of the hunters I know put in a lot of work before the hunt, scouting locations, considering factors like food sources, wind directions, sight lines, prey trails, etc. then (if we are talking about deer hunting, usually a tree stand or climber they put up high in a tree). And even with all of this, a LOT of the time they end up sitting in a tree all day, and never getting a shot at anything.
You also make the comment that it should be done sparingly and with sadly. If it were done sparingly, the deer would still be wildly overpopulated. In Indiana last year 125,000+ deer were killed, and yet they still are in a huge abundance all over the state. We need at least that many to be taken. If we don't, the other animals and plants of the whole ecosystem suffer. And as for doing it sadly, if it was something that people took no pleasure from then nobody would do it, and now the whole ecosystem is screwed unless we form teams of paid snipers who just go through the woods picking off deer strictly for population control (which would be hugely expensive, and no better for the deer)
You mention that maybe some thinning of the herd is necessary now that we have screwed up the natural processes. But man hunting animals IS one of the natural processes. We have been the apex predator in these areas for thousands of years. From the time of stone chipped arrows. Removing man from the hunt would be even more damaging than removing other predators like wolves. It is a part of the natural processes for us to hunt prey.
And remember, this is all coming from a non-hunter. I can't personally do it. But I do know that it is a necessary thing, and I know it takes hard work. So I congratulate my friends and family members when they are successful in the hunt.
Posted by: Zack | November 03, 2014 at 03:48 AM
I've not yet responded, Brian, because I know we have differing opinions about this, and neither of us are likely to waiver on our opinion, but I feel like I have no choice, but to respond. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but much of what you say (especially in your blog) does not resonate with me, and, well frankly, is hypocritical. You claim to have killed ground squirrels in an effort to protect the foundation of your home. Consider this. Those squirrels live a much more social lifestyle than deer. Deer are polygamous and don't have the "family" feeling your portray them to have, and are you sure you culled only the weak ground squirrels? Wait, that would be counter-productive because the strong would keep breeding. My point is, killing one animal, regardless if you felt guilty or not, is no different than killing another. Bye the way, how much of the animal was used? Seems like a little senseless killing may have taken place. I mean, I'm sure the dogs would have loved them. I didn't harvest this animal with "high tech" equipment from long range. I harvested this animal from 10 yards with my bow. Flint knapping isn't a skill I possess, so I did buy my tips. You claim there is no good reason to kill an animal (other than your squirrels, of course) yet I consume the meat from this animal. You choose to be vegetarian, and I choose to eat meat. Venison is the only red meat my family eats on a regular basis. I like to live off the land and provide my family with everything I can as naturally as possible. This is far more humane than any farmed meat. For the record, I don't condone predator hunting. I don't do it myself for two reasons; 1- If I'm not going to eat it, I don't kill it, 2- population control. In over thirty years of hunting, this is my biggest buck to date. I am primarily a meat hunter, but when I harvest a large buck, I am proud. This will provide a substantial amount of meat for my family. If you feel predators such as myself should kill the weak or sick, then I should be shooting fawns, because natural predators would be eating those first. They are dumb and easy picking, but something inside me doesn't let me. I have killed young ones in the past, but I prefer not to (even thought they do taste the best). I do have great respect the animals I harvest, which is part of the reason I would rather hunt with my bow, but I also take pride in what I'm doing.
Posted by: Corey | November 03, 2014 at 04:26 AM
Corey, thanks for sharing your point of view. That's all we're doing here -- trying to understand how different people can perceive deer hunting in different ways. Here's a few reactions from my perspective.
I don't seek out ground squirrels to kill them. They invade our yard. These are California ground squirrels, an invasive species here in Oregon. I've never killed a native squirrel, except one time by mistake, when I felt terrible. We did our best to deal with them non-violently, including live trapping.
So this gets to my main point in this post. What I focused on is how some people, like me, look upon animals (both wild and domestic) as living beings with conscious lives who are very similar to ourselves in many ways. After all, humans are animals of the mammalian variety. My wife and I kill nuisance animals sparingly and sadly as a last resort.
Other people see animals, especially wild ones, as objects that humans can deal with as they want to, including killing. I respect the need of "primitive" cultures to hunt for food. This rarely is the case in the United States. You and most other hunters don't need to kill a deer to survive. You just like to kill deer.
I do understand the wildlife management rationale for deer killing. But this is a minor reason, I suspect, for hunting nationally. I've never heard a hunter here in Oregon say, "I hunt deer to protect the environment from over-grazing." This doesn't seem to be nearly the problem it is in other parts of the country.
But if wildlife management somehow is the main rationale for deer hunting, how do you think hunters would react to this proposal?
Make all deer hunting subject to strict controls by expert wildlife biologists. Only as many deer as need to be killed to reach a population target would be "harvested" each year. The meat would be donated to homeless shelters and such. Hunters would do their hunting as a community service. They wouldn't take home any meat, nor any trophy heads/antlers. Nothing. No photographs of a kill would be allowed.
I suspect that interest in hunting would decline dramatically. This would show that hunters kill deer because they enjoy killing deer. (In my hypothetical scenario I'd include free counseling for low income hunters to show them how to qualify for food stamps if they truly are so indigent their family is lacking enough food.)
In summary, my point in writing this post is just to illustrate the different ways people can look upon hunting wild animals. This is an emotional intuitive thing, not a rational analytic thing. I realize that every hunter can give reasons why killing wild animals is a good thing.
However, psychologists know that emotions are a big (probably main) driver of decision-making. Meaning, we feel that we want to do something, then we find reasons to justify it. Rationality is a part of decision making, but not the biggest part usually.
So I'm fascinated by how some people feel a lot of empathy for animals, both wild and domestic, while other people don't. I'm certainly not saying this is a conscious choice, or that it carries with it broader moral or ethical implications.
For 45 years, as a vegetarian I've had lots of conversations with meat eaters along these lines. Clearly dietary choices aren't rational. For example, meat eaters will say they love animals, but have no problem being responsible for animals raised and slaughtered in cruel ways.
Again, we're all emotional and intuitive creatures, not "Spock-like" cyborgs. I'm not out to change the minds of hunters. I just wanted to share my own perspective on hunting, and learn more about why hunters feel it is fine to kill wild animals. You've helped with that, so thanks.
Posted by: Brian Hines | November 04, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Appreciative Reader, regarding your comment about using HTML tags in a comment...
Actually, your comment was indeed published in bold, as was your succeeding comment, because you'd included a tag for boldface in your comment (which I have edited out).
I don't recommend using tags for this reason. As you said, for some reason they tend to remain "on" rather than being turned off by the appropriate ending tag.
This means that all comments after a comment that used boldface, or whatever, takes on the appearance of that comment. I then have to edit the "offending" comment to take out the HTML tags.
I leave a lot of comments and don't find that an inability to use bold or underlining or whatever much affects my writing. So I recommend sticking with plain text.
Posted by: Brian Hines | November 09, 2014 at 07:09 PM
A friend stumbled across this and shared it with me. I noticed a few things in your post and subsequent comments that compel me to respond. First, I am not a hunter, but I do raise animals for the purpose of providing meat to my family and to sell for others to use for meat. But I have received meat from friends and family that have hunted and I do benefit from hunting in other ways, which I will get to in a bit.
I feel like you can't comprehend how people can actually be a part of the process to kill the meat that they eat, and I think that your inability to understand the mindset involved in that also extends to those of us that are farmers or ranchers.
I raise pigs and chickens for meat. My in-laws raise the same, plus cattle and rabbits and they also hunt. It's not for the thrill of the kill, or even the hunt/chase; it's to provide food (and provide household income from sold meat/eggs, either as a supplemental or full-time income). Many hunters you claim only want to kill for enjoyment also maintain vegetable gardens and do as much as possible to live off the land. It's more affordable to do so, long-term. It's not that this is the only way they can put food on the table (i.e., the poor are the ones who hunt); but it's the way they prefer to put food on the table. It's a way to be more self-reliant and self-sustaining. It's not really about Doomsday Prepping or that sort of thing, but a way to keep part of our society from being lost. I see the same thing with so many other things from canning/preserving, quilting, crocheting, sewing, and many other things that people used to do for themselves instead of going to the store and buying mass-produced, poorer quality stuff. It's important that we as a society don't forget how to do these things or focus so much on technology doing things for us that we forget the trade occupations and skills needed to survive.
The biggest problem I see with your post and comments is that you are so insistent on believing that hunters love to kill, relish the thought of being responsible for the death of an animal and take enjoyment in the pain and gore of it. While I'm sure there are some who do enjoy that aspect, most hunters don't revel in the gore of it all. They understand that the animals they hunt and eat are sentient beings, perhaps more than you because they have studied and followed them and seen them up close and learn so much more about them by being out in the wild with them. Farmers and ranchers spend more time with the animals they raise, so they know and understand that the animals are also sentient beings and have personalities all their own. I notice that in my pigs all the time. One pig is excitable while another is laid-back. Most of them love to be petted on and have their backs scratched and they crave touch. They are playful and mischievous and stubborn. I provide them with feed of proper nutritional value, more than adequate shelter and room to move around (acres and acres worth of land), and lots of attention and affection. But at the end of the day, they are being raised for eventual butchering. That doesn't mean that I don't understand they are living beings that deserve respect or that I somehow revel in the thought of it dying. I don't. What you seem to ignore is that people are capable of seeing and feeling the paradox of being sentient, compassionate beings who biologically have been meat-eaters. People can be conflicted or struggle with the concept or they can accept it--not out of callousness but out of a thoroughly-examined, rational thought process.
By ranching or hunting, the animals are living a more natural life than they would be in a factory-farm. By raising my own pigs and chickens, I can ensure proper nutrition and watch for any diseases or issues instead of trusting a big corporation to do so. The recent outbreak of PED in large-scale pig farms, especially the corporate ones, is less likely to occur with your small-scale farms, like mine. But I feel you would lump all of us into together as cold, unfeeling monsters when I'm doing all that is in my power to ensure that the animals I raise have the best life possible while they are on this earth.
You talk about how it bothers you that people have de-animalized themselves in terms of being separate entities or superior to other animals. There is another aspect to that de-animalization that you overlook. Humans were hunters and gatherers long before our modern times and inventions, and those hunting and gathering instincts may still be laying dormant somewhere in our collective consciousness. As you say, we are animals as well and to ignore that aspect of ourselves and how we survived through centuries is just selective thinking.
Another thing that jumped out at me as selective thinking was how you are willing to kill the squirrels threatening the foundation of your home but can't fathom
It is also hypocritical to say it was necessary to kill those squirrels while contending that hunting to control population is human-centric. How much more human-centric can insist upon protecting a building--a man-made structure--by killing squirrels is somehow a more moral choice than hunting deer or feral hogs to protect other animals or crops that feed BOTH humans and animals? Because my crops feed both my family and animals. We have a garden and what we don't use goes to the pigs. Our pastureland is for hay for the animals, so a feral hog herd--or even one hog--can do substantial damage to that source of food for our animals, not to mention kill other animals and livestock. It's less human-centric than saving a man-made structure.
There are also state laws and regulations that prohibit relocation of feral hogs or limit it to places that might not be economically feasible to travel to, so killing them tends to be the easiest and most effective method. To touch upon the "weakest animal" argument a bit as well, with feral hogs, the better meat does come from the female and smaller hogs; hormones play a part in making the meat tougher in the boars. So, a boar kill might not result in useable meat, but it does help take out the bigger hogs that can do damage or even kill livestock. As you can see, there are many factors involved when thinking about hunting besides the "thrill of the kill".
Because that is why it is important to maintain control over the population of many animals--not because of some bloodthrist. We, as humans over the course of our existence, have established ourselves as the primary predators by eliminating most of the natural predators of these animals. So, it is extremely important that we humans realize our responsibility for that and to act accordingly to maintain that balance. Since there are so few wolves and other predators to maintain the balance, we have to...and with our intellect we have the ability to reason and plot out what is too little or too much. It's not about being superior or thinking other animals serve us humans; it's about realizing our place in the ecological system (whether it was natural or we made damaging mistakes in the past to put us in this place) and accepting the responsibility to maintain the balance of ALL ecosystems--not just ours or a few select species, but of all the ecosystems that could go out of balance in a chain reaction if say feral hogs took over and destroyed many plant ecosystems. If we can benefit from the hunting because of the meat, that doesn't inherently make it selfish or human-centric. By using the meat, we ensure the animal's death wasn't wasteful(in the sense that we created a waste problem with the dead animals) and we are participating fully in our ecological system.
Posted by: crazy pig lady | January 11, 2015 at 05:50 PM
Your comment about the photos. Yes, they can be disturbing to see and it can pain even those of us who are involved in raising animals for meat. I don't relish the pictures, but I do understand it. It is a trophy; it is a momento; it is a way to share a moment passed down from generation to generation. It is a way for the Wildlife Departments to document what type and size of deer are in certain areas. A high school classmate of mine holds one of the state records for deer. The Wildlife Department took their own pictures of it; they also wanted the head and rack to display...so it's not just hunters looking for trophies. It's also conservationists. Taxidermy isn't just for hunters. Look at natural history museums. They are full of taxidermied animals as a way to preserve them, a way to educate us about the animals. The concept of taxidermy is morbid but it serves a purpose. The problem with your comment is that taxidermy isn't just a construct of hunters and to ignore the useful aspects of it is, again, selective thinking.
Your comment about how guns are cowardly. So, you'd rather someone viciously slice an animal? I'd think that you'd want the most effective, least brutal way to kill if you are concerned with the animal's suffering. Bow and gun are both fairly accurate, and do take a vast amount of skill to make an effective, humane kill shot. To say that guns are cowardly and require little skill does a huge discredit to anyone who has ever trained to use a weapon, either for "sport" or target practice, for personal safety, or for their careers in law enforcement or the military.
To touch upon something Corey mentioned in his comment about "predator hunting", the only time I have ever killed predators is when they were actively going after my livestock or pets. We've had a bobcat attack one of our dogs, but she survived that attack. We've had a coyote attack another dog, and he unfortunately didn't survive that attack. It's a very heartbreaking thing to do to put down a pet, but his wounds were too great and he was suffering. I have killed possums who were killing my chickens. Relocating possums only make them some other farmer or rancher's problem.
The only dead animal picture I have ever taken is when a hawk killed one of my chickens in my backyard. I took the picture not for the gore or to revel in the death of the chicken, but to make sure I could later identify the hawk and find out what I could do to prevent it from getting more of my chickens. One factor that I had to think about was if it was legal to kill that particular breed of hawk, and making sure I knew exactly what breed it was is essential to that, if it came to that necessity.
You also speak of the squirrels invade your yard (a human-centric notion) and of how the species of squirrel is from out of state (again a human-centric notion of boundaries). But you can't seem to fathom that deer or feral hogs could be much more invasive and cause much more damage. And you can't seem to fathom that the feral hog population used to be the extreme southern part of the country but has now expanded into most of the country. And you think that ecological factors for hunting are minimal? That minimalistic view of ecology is something I just can't fathom.
You make a point to say others view wild creatures as objects, but you ascribe that trait to ALL hunters (and by extension farmers and ranchers who do raise and kill animals for meat). The point I want to reiterate is that most farmers, ranchers, and hunters are not as simple-minded as you imagine them to be. They can understand the contradictions and complexities quite well and they can and do appreciate the animals as conscious beings.
You said, " respect the need of "primitive" cultures to hunt for food. This rarely is the case in the United States. You and most other hunters don't need to kill a deer to survive. You just like to kill deer."
It's not just a "primitive" culture that hunts for food and to imply we should abandon hunting altogether is a dangerous concept. We, as a species, will loose that skill that might be useful again in the future. As I spoke of earlier, the loss of the knowledge and skill of many aspects of self-reliant survival is a scary thing. We lose hunting, canning and preserving foods, sewing for practical purposes, crafting, the trade professions....and so on.
The US-centric part as well bothers me. We do have to think globally as well. We are all humans no matter geographical location. And as you say, we are all animals and not separate.
In many cases, killing a deer is not true life-or-death survival. But to jump from "you don't need" to "you just like to kill" is a gigantic leap in logic. And again, selective thinking to ignore so many other reasons for hunting, as I have presented.
You say, "Make all deer hunting subject to strict controls by expert wildlife biologists. Only as many deer as need to be killed to reach a population target would be "harvested" each year. The meat would be donated to homeless shelters and such. Hunters would do their hunting as a community service. They wouldn't take home any meat, nor any trophy heads/antlers. Nothing. No photographs of a kill would be allowed."
It's a logical fallacy to assume that a decline in hunting after a proposed change like this would because people wouldn't get the thrill of the kill. First, they would still get the thrill of the kill; just not the bragging rights. I think the bigger reason for a decline would be not allowing the hunter to take the meat for themselves. Because,for all our good qualities, humans are selfish creatures. Some would do it for charity, but many would want to provide for their own families FIRST. How do modern charities work if not being given money or goods that are extra to a family and not the main income? I know I don't give to a charity until I know my bills and living expenses are paid for that week--to do otherwise is financially irresponsible to my family; to expect something different from a hunter is ludicrous. I think this is the part where you really start reaching in your logic.
You say "I'd include free counseling for low income hunters to show them how to qualify for food stamps if they truly are so indigent their family is lacking enough food."
The level of condescension in that comment is overwhelming. First, as I've said, many can afford the grocery store but CHOOSE not to because of the exact reason you fret about--the suffering of animals. Many don't want to support factory farms or corporations with a history of abuses and unethical practices. Many want to be self-reliant and not lose skills that we humans have relied on to survive for centuries. So to take this down to to the level of being condescending just shows how ill-informed you are on the subject.
"For example, meat eaters will say they love animals, but have no problem being responsible for animals raised and slaughtered in cruel ways."
First, I am responsible for how I raise the animals I do eat. That is a huge responsibility that I don't take lightly and I strive to give make their time on earth the best it can possibly be. They want for nothing and receive ample affection and respect. But to insinuate that all meat eaters are responsible for all the actions of everyone who has ever killed an animal--humanely or cruelly--is ludicrous. Are vegetarians responsible for every living plant on the planet and extinction of plants? No. And to say that meat-eaters "have no problem" again makes not only hunters, but meat-eaters, simple-minded people who are not capable of having more than one thought in their head at one time. You ignore any rational, thoughtful response that shows that meat-eaters, hunters, and even non-hunters who understand the concepts involved in hunting. It is not an easy subject to think about and it is very complex and there are contradicting thoughts and emotions about it; but to continually portray hunters/meat-eaters as simple-minded leads right into my parting thoughts....
I will close with this quote from you, "Meaning, we feel that we want to do something, then we find reasons to justify it. Rationality is a part of decision making, but not the biggest part usually."
I'd say that people can find ways to justify any logic they have, even to the point of insisting others have bloodlust and a desire to kill when there are rational, logical reasons for hunting. People can be willing to ignore the logic to keep on believing that they are somehow superior to others because of their choices in food and how they obtain that food.
Posted by: crazy pig lady | January 11, 2015 at 06:52 PM
I think the issue here is simple. I would not shoot a deer with an arrow or a gun, because I would not want it done to me. I would not kill an animal, because I don't want to be killed. I think this issue of overpopulation is merely hype for those who love to kill. Of course, those who love to kill, would not like being killed. Lies and games-people are so good at hiding the truth. Notice, the over population of deer, as if deer have a magical energizer battery, how convenient,e unlike robins, or blue jays, or frogs. Deer have to acquire a bad reputation or there would be no excuse to kill them.
Posted by: Sue | September 19, 2015 at 10:19 AM
You should not be shooting the squirrels and bitch about other people killing animals. When I was ten I got my first gun. I know now that guns are very addictive. I did my share of murdering animals. What really disgusts me is when I see these dimwits on television. You can hear them breathing heavily like they've just ejaculated. Humans are the worst animals on Earth. Most of the animals we slaughter and eat are herbivores. Funny isn't it. It ain't difficult to kill animals. Anyone reading this who thinks it is, well is full of B.S. I have done it and thank God I don't anymore. Deadeye Dick-----Kurt Vonnegut
Posted by: Flynn | December 23, 2015 at 02:10 AM
It's 2016 now and a whole hell of a lot of people are growing tired of the pictures, the crassness, the killing and the loss of wildlife. Your perspective is valued now more than ever. Hunters, especially trophy hunters are killing far too many animals. Especially in America and Africa. Conventional 'hunters are conservationists' theories are being called to the mat and new science says this is not the real or whole story. It's time for a change and as we speak up that change is and will continue to happen. These animals are not ours to kill at will for fun and glory. Times are changing, hunters need to step up and change with them.
Posted by: Devin miller | September 23, 2016 at 07:25 PM
For hunters to be aware of their kill being sentient, conscious beings that WANT to live, whether they feel bad killing them or not, that makes them just THAT more evil to wrongfully take that life away, for whatever reason they have. If youre going to fully take in the existence of another creature and kill her anyways, you are worse than those who dont.
Posted by: Kelly W. | December 02, 2016 at 11:25 AM
It is hard to find anything online that goes against hunting. It's disgraceful!
If the hunters were hunting for the good of the planet, and not because they have this desire to take a life, why is it that they look forward to their hunting trips? Why do they have all of these sayings, like "if it's brown it's going down"? Why do the brag and take pictures of the lifeless bodies? .... because they don't have respect for life! Possibly because they are sociopaths!
If they want to do something noble or meaningful for the planet, how about planting some trees, volunteer, maybe mentor a kid?
Someone commented on the hunters claiming it's a sport that takes skill. Hmmmm, skill? To invade someone's environment, quietly and shoot them from a distance? It's absolutely cowardly!
I'm not afraid to be judgemental here. Hunters most likely don't have the ability to read and comprehend a great novel, train for a sport (where there might be some competition and challenge), improve their mind or their body. This is the "hobby" they choose. To sneak up on an animal (not even at a close distance) and kill them. How about if we take their guns away and dropped them off in the middle of the Bronx at midnight. Would they be just as tough?
Lastly, why is it, if you show a hunter that you don't agree with hunting, why do they feel the need to try to make you understand every reason why they hunt and want to convince you that their "hobby" is necessary?
I'm sorry anyone got offended. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
One more thing, Brian don't complain about people taking the lives of animals when you yourself kill them. Learn to cohabitate.
Posted by: Lisa | January 01, 2017 at 12:01 AM
Thanks for this nice passage. I agree with you. We human as an advanced animal, should develop a better way to improve the environment for wild animals. By Killing to control the population, I don't think that's a good idea. My home country China has a big population and it causing problem, but if could we use killing to control the population? Then how do we choose which ones to kill? It doesn't make sense at all. Think about ourselves, we all have families, if one of our family died or killed, we all feel sad about it. Deer has family too, of course they feel sad when they lose their family or friends. And how could be do this to them? This way of population management causing people stop thinking about developing a better way for it.
And, as you said, a lot of people left comments as "good job" or something. Well, I don't think it is a good job at all, especially those people do killing for fun, not for food. Killing is not fun, not matter what. And their target does not have a gun to challenge with them. So I only think these people are cowards, unless they do this as practice and they hope one day they can become a soldier and kill terrorist or bad guys I would think they are heroes.
Hunters, if anything I said is not something you want to read, I'm sorry. But still, I wish, as a hunter, please respect what you are killing, don't waste that life, at least treat it as a food please. If you want a trophy, please go to kill a terrorist and bring back their head or weapon as your trophy. Or, at least one day you can go to do it. a deer head doesn't means anything success to me. I will do join army to kill terrorist one day when I finish all other things what I need to do in my life. if I die there, I won' regret. But I won't kill animals, that's no challenge, and it's meaningless.
Posted by: Claude | February 13, 2017 at 02:59 PM
Interesting read, listen "Spot" , Although I respect your right to your opinion, I disagree. I have been hunting since I was about 7 years old. I was born and raised in SE Alaska where if you did not have a boat or plane you did not go anywhere. Hunting was a way of life and since I have incisors in my mouth, being human, I was designed to eat meat. It was a way of life and I was taught to obey the laws, not kill for fun and use what you kill. I had a trap line at age 13 and sold the pelts for extra money. Hunting taught me responsibility. I now live in the lower 48 (states) and continue to hunt every year. I eat everything I kill, and if there is a trophy involved, bonus! I have killed and eaten just about everything that walks the northern hemisphere, (although I do not recommend Muskrat) I even ate some dog meat when the military, stationed in Korea in the early 80's. .
Does this mean I am a bad person, No! I don't break the law, pay my taxes and take care of my family.
I don't imagine anyone growing up in a large metro area could ever understand this. I am not doing anything illegal or immoral, what I do find upsetting is having to listen to some Hippycrite (pun intended) who gets their food from the supermarket telling me how to live my life and making judgements based on irrational assumptions. So you don't eat animals, but I bet you still wear leather shoes and belts. At least I don't have to depend on getting my food vicariously through someone else. I really don't really care what other people think, it really does not matter. If you have any education or common sense and believe math as a science all your concerns are for not. Why? Because of simple math and sustainability. I'll explain, at the turn of the 20th century (1900) the world population had reached 1 Billion humans. In 2017 there are now over 7.2 billion people on earth. No amount of conservation can turn the tide, There are simply too many people, without a major war or deadly virus there is no saving the planet. So grow up, quit being delusional and get on with your life.
P.S. Three weeks ago I shot a beautiful Cinnamon colored black bear, the meat is great, (most of it was made into sausage) and my taxidermist is making me a nice bear rug, all legal. Later Spot.
Posted by: [email protected] | October 25, 2018 at 04:57 PM
And in 2019? I was looking for some commentary on hunters and their pictures...this was an interesting thread to read. I mean, I think I get it.. hunting and all, food, blah blah... what I don't get, is taking photos with their kill and then posting to social media...and indeed the gleeful nature of most of those photos. In FB group, this guy posted a photo of himself next to his deer kill and wrote commentary on how he suffered a stroke the week before and how getting back to "nature" and doing "nature" things (like hunting I guess) has made him feel better.... and honestly, it took everything in me not to comment back to him.. "Um, you had a stroke? Then you should probably eat more leafy greens..." LOL but I'm not sure if the joke or the irony of his photo and commentary would pass that group. Hunt responsibly fine, but leave the photos for your own scrapbook. Geez.
Posted by: Tricia | November 04, 2019 at 07:56 AM