To hunt or not to hunt

Why do people who don't know or care anything about hunting, feel indebted to express their opinions and to pass judgment on hunting?



By Dwight Schuh, Senior Editor

Why do people who don't know or care anything about hunting, feel indebted to express their opinions and to pass judgment on hunting? I can understand attacks from animal rights fanatics, whose motives are clear enough. But many writers and "journalists" who attack hunting aren't really animal rightists. They simply seem compelled to express their views and opinions on any and all topics. Why? I've come up with three reasons.

Pure Ignorance

In his commentary on 60 Minutes on November 26, 2002, Andy Rooney started out talking about newspapers. "Newspapers are better than they used to be," he starts out innocuously enough.

But two paragraphs down he digresses into this: "The Burlington Free Press has a story about shooting deer with a bow and arrow. Hunting deer with a rifle is one thing but shooting at anything with a bow and arrow is barbaric. Imagine all the places you could hit a deer with an arrow and not kill it."

The only possible explanation for that statement is pure ignorance. Apparently, as he reads through the newspaper, Rooney discovers something called bowhunting. He obviously knows nothing about it, but what difference does that make? Andy, being Andy, is qualified to form a judgment on any topic, and since he has a forum for spewing that judgment to the world, why not?

If Andy comments from a point of such ignorance on the topic of bowhunting, how do we know he doesn't do the same in all of his commentaries? Heck, Mickey Rooney could do better than that, and he's dead. Actually, Mickey Mouse could do better. (If you want to tell CBS what you think of Mickey and his commentaries, go to www.cbsnews.com.)

Orchestrated Bias

In the spring of 2001, ABC Primetime (www.abcnews.com) presented a report on the Safari Club. Now, we can all form our own opinions on SCI, and not even all hunters would agree here. But that's not the point. The point is that ABC presented a one-sided view of SCI without ever looking at all the good things the organization does (SCI has probably put more money into wildlife conservation than all animal rights groups combined). Even more to the point, by extension, Primetime vilified SCI in order to orchestrate a statement about hunting in general Â'“ that a few bad apples mean the whole barrel is bad.

Now you would think a news medium like ABC would take an objective, unbiased view, wouldn't you? Fat chance. Who was their expert witness on the Safari Club and trophy hunting? Wayne Pacelle, of the Humane Society of the United States. Do you think Wayne Pacelle presented a favorable view? Or even an objective view? Fat chance.

Oh, ABC did quote a couple of SCI guys, but only to make them look like buffoons. The network certainly didn't interview any respected hunters or professional biologists who could have shed a positive light on - and the truth about - hunting. Again, when a network airs such orchestrated bias in relation to one topic, can we believe any of their presentations? You decide.

Personal Feelings

On December 6, 2002, National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com) ran an essay called "To Hunt or Not to Hunt," by Rod Dreher. It was subtitled, "Confessions of a one-time deer slayer."

The story begins: "I was a successful deer hunter exactly once. And it was the last day I ever hunted deer. Killing that big, beautiful animal for no good reason left me disgusted with myself."

He goes on to describe the events of that horrid day in graphic detail. To punctuate the trauma he suffered from hunting, he later tells how he shot a squirrel, which did not die immediately. "What, for God's sake, was the point of this?" he agonizes.

In essence, his essay makes a broad statement about hunting based on his personal feelings and observations. He was hunting "for no good reason," because "I didn't want to hunt deer for sport (I didn't eat venison)" And, of course, he takes the obligatory pot shot at SCI and its "rich men who pay tens of thousands of dollars for the dubious privilege of shooting rare animals, many of them virtually caged" Finally, he concludes by telling how his dad, who was a good hunter and had "over 30 whitetail bucks- on his tally sheet" gave up hunting because he got tired of killing, as if this was the moral high ground.

Far be it from me or Bowhunter magazine to try to convince anyone they should hunt. That's a personal decision, and hunting is not for everyone. But to suggest that because hunting is wrong for one person (Dreher), or that because some people ostensibly hunt for the wrong reasons (rich SCI guys), or because one man (his dad) got tired of killing animals, means hunting is fundamentally wrong is absurd.

If guys like Dreher want to contemplate their bellybuttons, fine. But why do they feel indebted to share the contents of their bellybuttons with the rest of the world? The fact that an individual was hunting "for no good reason," doesn't mean the rest of us do. Some of us hunt for very good reasons, and we get tired of the attacks by ignorant people who don't understand that.

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