They are not yours

It’s been tough work the last 18 months, becoming a hunter, and not because the discipline itself is so multifaceted.

Video by Adam Moffat.

The difficulty has to do with hunters, and with hunting itself as it all too often practiced in the US. I’ve heard endless chest-thumping bravado, about “smoking” an animal and cultivating a killer instinct. I’ve read endless stereotyping of tree hugging, bleeding heart, REI types who don’t understand the wild and out of either ignorance or malice are enacting a conspiracy to make all hunting illegal (be it via the introduction of “Canadian” wolves, or a variety of equally absurd schemes). I’ve witnessed folks advocating, with total seriousness, the annihilation of all predators so that human hunting can become the sole agent of inter-species regulation.

I’m not trying to say that all hunters are idiots prone to overindulgence in the bias to which they are entitled. I am saying that when you’re becoming indoctrinated in a social sect whose cultural underpinnings you do not share, the dogmatic fallacies which underwrite many axioms are easy to see.

This has been good, insofar as the experience has given me cause to question many of the things I take for granted. And I strive to be open-minded in the future, best to learn more. But I cannot be patient with the anthropocentrism which still exists, relic of the 19th century, in 21st century American hunting.

The North American model of game management is hailed for its democratic ideals, preserving as it does animals on public lands, accessible to all within the limits of the law. What is almost never discussed here is the modest place hunting holds in this model of conservation. The idea that we preserve habitat and ecosystems so that we’ll have more things to kill for generations to come is no longer tenable. Not because we preserve large parts of the natural world for reasons which do not have to do with our own interests, I’m enough of a Humeian to think that an impossible notion. Rather, we preserve the world as it exists outside our influence because good human wisdom is admitting we’ll never be able to know everything we don’t know. We will need that reservoir of knowledge down the road, and it won’t exist without foresight and restraint. Hunting, intelligently and conservatively managed hunting, is and will be essential for the future of human development, because we are hunters and we’ll lose a lot if we forget that. But continuing wildlife management as nothing more than a more democratic, empirically informed version of Victorian hunting estates is sickening in it’s myopia.

My hope for hunting is that this sentiment dies off in the next half century, and if it takes a dip in hunting demographics to achieve it, so be it. I’m optimistic about a lot of my generation.

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3 thoughts on “They are not yours

  1. Hi.

    I had to go do a half hour of dishwashing to contemplate and organize my views on the topic.
    My first impression and thoughts were, “oh no, not another extreme, hardcore, epic, psyched, activity.”
    Ref. http://www.banffcentre.ca/mountainculture/festivals/2005/film/awards/everyday_extreme.asp

    I’m not a hunter myself, but I have no problem with it whatsoever, many friends and family members hunt. Just keep it sensible. I think we have a similar view on that in the end.
    When analyzing the “extreme hunting”, I’m still left with a positive feeling. I’m glad it highlighted the difficult part of hunting, quite realistic in the end. A counterbalance to classic hunting, where often you park you car, walk a few hundred meters to a good spot, shoot and then tow the animal with a motorized vehicle. Kind of like bushcraft actually – off topic mini rant, I go out with bushcraft friends from time to time. It was also a reminder on why we ditched hunting for agriculture, it’s just so tough, time-consuming and un-secure to rely on hunting meat for survival.

    To finish off, on a more practical side of things. I can see this being a good move for brands like under armour. There are a lot of veterans in the world at the moment, especially in the US. For example recon trained personnel, that simple have no use for their skills anymore. I know that can be depressing, so a hobby like this is tailored for them.

    For the hunting community, I do hope this would become more popular to raise the bar for all hunters so everyone would embrace the whole span of hunting.

    1. For me the video clearly presents a lot of the best things about hunting, and a lot of the more silly ones. Sitting a wallow dawn to dusk could be defined as extreme, but it takes a lot to see the similarities (mental) with hucking a cliff.

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