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March 05, 2006


emptypockets, I doubt anything in your post was inaccurate, but neither did I find it "complete." I am not a hunter, but the hunters I know don't consider "DeadEye" Dick a "hunter." I would invite you to consider reviewing the comments section at FireDogLake immediately following DeadEye's shooting Harry. There are a lot of hunters who read and comment at FDL. For example "immantentize" is imo in the top 15 commenters at FDL and he "shoots birds" in Texas. IMO your post would have been stronger if it had mentioned that we have killed off the big mammals at the top of the food chain with us, bears, wolves, and coyotes. Some hunting is necessary, to cull the herd of deer for example. IMHO your post would have been stronger if you had mentioned that a lot of hunters share your sensitivities or at least do not share DeadEye's. These hunters are natural allies in respect for animals, in the fight to preserve wetlands as well as a lot of other conservation and environmental concerns that affect animal habitat. If you choose to post on this topic again, I would also invite you to consider integrating it with some of the really fine work DemFromCT has done on the Avian flu. We (the world) may be facing some incredibly tough decisions on sustainability and famine very soon, if this virus does what many fear it can. Thanks for the post, though, it was thought provoking, well written, and well edited.

Personally, those "researchers" got off easy. There is no scientifically-valid reason for the torture of animals for the purpose of "testing" makeup and household products. Too many so-called "scientists" are nothing but over-educated scum, and that company should have been blown up.

John, thanks for your comments -- I will read the other posts you recommend. My post above was by no means meant as anti-hunter -- in fact, the illegitimacy of canned hunts is one of the few areas where animal rights groups and hunting groups agree! (The national greyhound organization has also spoken out against field coursing, for that matter.) Your point that the post was incomplete is well-taken (any post on this subject is going to be) and you rightly recognize one area I glossed over here for the sake of sticking to one thesis: that treating any life callously can quickly lead to treating all life callously. Population issues and disease issues (I didn't mention cockfighting, for example, which is a major cause of avian flu spread; or the chronic wasting disease (elk version of mad cow) that the caged hunt breeders can be petri dishes for). But, yes, not all hunters do it over the internet or in petting zoos, obviously -- I am concerned with the minority that do.

TCinLA, blowing up labs you don't agree with is equal to blowing up countries you don't agree with. There are useless scientists just as there are useless hunters, that much you have right. The rest of your comment is simple hate speech, and belongs with the rest of it -- not here.

Thank you so much for the way you took my way-too-clumsy "incomplete," comment. Obviously you are much more informed about the positive aspects that ethical hunters bring than I am. OT, I live in Wisconsin and from your comment, you are obviously aware of the Chronic Wasting disease among our deer, I did not know that Elk had been affected. OT Coyotes are making a comeback here in urban areas, and I have been surprised by their breathtaking grace and intelligence. I really look forward to learning from your next post, as I did from this one.

I read about chronic wasting disease (CWD) concerns in both elk & deer here in New York -- from what I understand, it has been found only in deer in your state Wisconsin; but also in captive elk herds elsewhere in the US and in Canada.

Another topic I became interested in while reading about all this is the idea of a shrinking animal "middle class" -- fewer species that straddle the categories of 'work' animal and 'companion' animal. This middle class includes rabbits, which are pets & food, and to a degree turtles, and mice that are pets, pests, and research subjects. But it seems to me that people used to have a more personal relationship with their work animals (chickens, pigs, cows) that now are very foreign to most of us; and at the same time our companion animals (dogs, cats) are being elevated to the status of family members, sometimes to a disturbing degree. It seems to me this trend parallels the black-white "us vs. them" xenophobic mentality we are developing as a nation.

At one point I began looking up how much we spend on our pets compared to how much we spend on, for example, homeless humans. The numbers are soft, but it is roughly as follows: the federal gov't spends $1 - $2 billion/yr on the homeless, and we as individuals spend $15 - $30 billion/yr on our pets. That makes it sound like we are spending 10x as much on dogs and cats than on humans, which in dollars we are. But we also have a lot more pets than there are homeless in the US: 350 million pets, compared to about 750,000 homeless (that is the number homeless on a given night; throughout the course of a year that population will be made up of shifting subsets of a much larger group).

It works out to us spending about $88 per pet-year, and $2000 per homeless person-year.

Just something else to think about.

Definitely out of touch.

When I was in my early teens, I spent summers at my uncle's hunting and fishing cottage in the same Wisconsin sand county Aldo Leopold wrote about. My uncle worked in a factory in Milwaukee and my cousin and I would stay at the cottage during the week alone, fishing for trout for many hours every day and picking pickles to earn money. We knew every riffle, every bend and every straightaway in about six miles of trout stream and we fished them constantly.

My uncle would come up on weekends drink a little, shoot guns, fart around in the garden, eat our trout, and leave us with a stocked fridge. He let us use his tractor to get to lakes in the area we fished for bass and northerns and to go into town for supplies.

In the town of Westfield, the hardware store had a pool indoors that was stocked with big rainbow trout. Every time we went to the store, we took a look at trout so much bigger than the wild ones we caught they practically looked like a different species. Sometimes we'd put a nickle in a little candy dispenser that, in this case, dispensed trout meal. We'd throw the meal into the pool and watch the big trout roil and thrash, fighting over the trout pellets.

You could also pay to fish and it cost by the pound of what you caught. We fantasized about these pen trout.

One day my cousin couldn't resist. He had pickle money in his pocket and plunked down a five dollar deposit. The store owner gave him a little fishing rod and put a pellet of trout meal on the hook. My cousin dangled the hook into the pool and instantly "caught" a three pound rainbow. The store owner gutted the fish, wrapped it in newspaper and took my cousin's money.

We went home with the trout, sick, disgusted with what we'd just done, and hating the whole idea of that hardware store pool. That there was no challenge, no artistry, no drama put the trout hunt in it's starkest terms: we were killing for our own entertainment and to stroke our egos.

From that day on, I still fished, but I hated catching and killing them for anything other than meat. As an adult I don't fish unless I'm backpacking. Trout in mountain lakes are a high quality food source I don't have to pack in.

You have to eat and I like to eat trout and salmon just fine. But taking pleasure in killing anything is bizzare. To kill for a trophy that impresses your friends or buffs your image is beyond sick. My cousin and I could see that when we were thirteen.

But taking pleasure in killing anything is bizarre. To kill for a trophy that impresses your friends or buffs your image is beyond sick.

kaleidoscope, I think that is the key distinction: not whether one is killing beasts or men, but whether one is killing for a useful purpose or purely for the pleasure of killing. Thank you very much for the story; it is well-taken and appreciated..!

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