Whats Up With That? - Katy Byrne


Taking a shot at hunting

Why would anyone hunt for fun? Hunting is often cruel. Sometimes creatures don’t die immediately; sometimes they bleed to death or starve, half hunted, leaving their young to fend for themselves. Are we still primitive? Do we really need to kill? Is it because there is too much violence on TV, or what?

Senseless killing makes no sense.

The December 2, 2012 “Press Democrat” had an article about a deer walking around in Santa Rosa with a crossbow arrow through its face. Graham Malcolm–Wium spoke of the shooting to the Fish and Game Commission, and said it had been wandering the countryside now for weeks, with two fawns. “I’m not against hunting,” he said, “but what happened to the neighborhood buck is sheer cruelty.”

In Sonoma, a duck was found downtown with a dart sticking out of its head. In Pennsylvania they are letting pigeons out of boxes and then gunning them down.  Unfortunately, half of them thrash around in the water until they die.  Then there are the shark fins that when eaten are supposed to make men more virile. They cut off the fins and throw the sharks back in the water where they flail around and slowly die. This is a sexy image?

This is a volatile subject. Every time I mention hunting, people go ballistic. Maybe lurking in the shadows, deep inside us, are centuries-old survival fears. Perhaps our brains are still living in prehistoric times.

Steven Rinella, author of “Meat Eater,” a lover of the hunt, says: “I was hungry in the wilderness and here came a few tons’ worth of caribou. And in the act of doing it, you experience the unconfused purity of being a human predator.” He adds, “It is a time to do what millions of years’ worth of evolution built us to do.”

We’ve been doing lots of things for thousands of years. Does that make them good? I was talking to an acquaintance the other day who told me a friend had been bugging him to go out and shoot some deer. I said, “Oh please don’t.” He replied, “I never get to eat venison.”  I asked, “Why not go to Safeway?” I think he was afraid he’d look like a ‘wus’ if he didn’t. What’s up with that?

When I ask people how hunting could be a sport, they go wild. The topic incites rage.  I asked a group of people from Nevada the other day: “So, are you all hunters? Why would anyone want to kill for fun?” Tempers flew, facts blew, marriages flailed, and alcohol went down. When the vibes calmed, they couldn’t decide about dinner — steak or duck. I sat a bit befuddled, wondering, could humans do something else with their time?

Human beings worry me. We have technology but what’s happened to our heads? Maybe they should be stuffed and hung over the fireplace, too. Let’s face it, the idea of killing isn’t going to die anytime soon.

The thing that bugs me about it is the suffering of innocent animals, and the learned behavior human kids might acquire as they get this hit that being violent is heroic. (FBI sees animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people.) I wonder where compassion is in the human psyche. What happened to values of kindness, safety and trust, within us, between us and other countries, the land and the animals? As Albert Schweiter said, “Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”

It’s a painful subject, but I’m glad I took a shot at it.

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