My attendance to the San Diego Humane Society Fur Ball had me thinking about animals and hunting. If you have never been to the Fur Ball and you love animals, I highly recommend you check it out. It is great fun, lots of delicious food and cocktails, live music, plenty of terrific prizes to hopefully win, and if you don't win, that's okay. It's for a good cause. Speaking of food, if you are a vegetarian such as myself, most functions offer vegetarian entrees. These are most likely to be filled with cheese, which I like to think is to ease the drunkenness that ensues after they ply you with multiple glasses of liquor to increase the odds of your getting pooh-pooh-faced and raising your hand during the open bidding for a prize worth $300.00 that you get for a mere $2,500.00. If you are a vegan, you are typically screwed unless you prepare far in advance. I tried to be a vegan at one point, having been educated about the evils of dairy by none other than Dan Piraro, the crafty creator of the comic strip, Bizaro, but I became tired of starving to death when all around me were tucking into their entrees with undisguised gusto.

Now, I don't mean to sound lofty. I don't attend many "functions" and I am not a hardcore, card-carrying carnivore hater. My revulsion toward meat stems less from the killing of animals for food than the manner in which these animals were treated prior to, during, and after. The great Mahatma Gandhi's quote about a nation being judged by the way it treats its animals has been exhausted to the point of being a cliché, but damn it, it's true. And I'm no Ingrid Newkirk, that plucky PETA champion whose intentions I admire but whose tactics I use to question, until I met her. I don't bomb research clinics or hurl water balloons full of red paint at well heeled, fur wearing ladies of a certain social-economic status, and I don't march on the steps of the capital building in a lettuce bikini. What I do is adhere to a certain advocacy for the humane treatment of animals. I've always been drawn to animals. One of my own cats has nothing but disdain for me, which worsens with each pathetic attempt to gain her affection. The only cat in the house to send me to the emergency room, I love her none the less.

But right now I am referring not to the unspeakable manner in which most animals are raised in the name of agriculture, but rather them being hunted for "sport". Some would beg to differ, citing our position on the food chain, which is rubbish. Put the gun wielding hunter out in the woods with nothing but his instincts to survive and he would perish. To call hunting a sport is ridiculous, given that a bear, armed with a gun and the capacity to use it, would kick our ass. Not to mention that guns are a relatively recent invention in the history of evolution, and one of the reasons why animals have not evolved to the point of practiced self-defense against humans is they never needed to. This may sound naïve and simplistic to the hunting enthusiast, but to that I say "prove it". It may also explain the little thrill I get when I hear about hunters shooting each other. Prior to the introduction of guns, animals were hunted for food using skill, cunning and primitive weapons. All other parts of the animal were utilized - skin, bones, teeth and tendons, to make clubs, spears, knives, clothing and tools. If you missed your mark, you went hungry, not to mention cold and vulnerable to another caveman dragging your lady by the hair back to his cave. But then along came the gun, and with it, this brilliant idea - "Hey, let's hunt animals for fun!!"

First are the sophisticated hunters, the ones that participate in African big game supervised cullings, or what we less civilized refer to as canned hunts. These hunters are typically patrons of the art of taxidermy. I recently read a story in Vanity Fair about the burning down of Deyrolle, considered to be one of the greatest taxidermy establishments in the world. I hated this masturbatory article and its detailing of the excessive catering to its owner, Prince Louis Albert. 60 firemen had been called, along with 50 French soldiers and hundreds of local police, during which Louis Albert was told "Prince, the army is at your disposal." Hermes issued a limited edition silk scarf named "Plumes", with proceeds going to benefit Deyrolle, and Christie's chimed in "Deyrolle is an institution." Businesses from all of Europe, and for that matter, the world, were willing to donate an outrageous amount of money toward its restoration. I could go on and on but you get my drift. This was not a more deserving children's hospital, or even a bona fide zoo full of living, breathing creatures, but an ancient business (albeit one that had received a considerable makeover), and this entire article glossed over the fact that these animals were DEAD. Two sentences stand out and I shall quote them here: "In taxidermy's modern form, the objective is not static conservation but robust vitality. Stuffed and mounted animals seem to leap or fly from their pedestals." Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but robust vitality and leaping and flying are traits I typically attribute to the living. Here I unfortunately must give credit where credit is due. Prince Louis Albert does attempt to lend to the "sport" of hunting a certain air of aristocracy and decency, and I believe he does think himself to be contributing to taxidermy as a form of historic art, preserving a variety of species in "haunting magnificence", while also attempting to preserve this much beloved establishment who's unfortunate time has come. But instead of using the considerable amount of funds coming from Europe's most influential to create sanctuaries for endangered species, he intends to restore Deyrolle to its former non-breathing magnificence, and the donations of stuffed and mounted death are pouring in from all corners of the globe.

As an aside, imagine my chagrin when the cause of the fire was determined not to be that of which I had hoped, some crazed PETA member hurling mol tov cocktails through the window (I KNOW what I said earlier, but I don't participate, therefore I am faultless), but the work of something much more benign, a decidedly less impressive short circuit.

Crossing the pond, at the other end of the spectrum we have the American hunter. The pick-up truck driving, chrome mud-flap chick sporting, stained wife-beater and 34 inch waist jeans and belt sitting far below a 42 inch gut wearing, proud owner of a Pine Grove 1995 double wide 24x48 foot trailer dwelling, height of cuisine being a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast thinking variety is of whom I speak. These guys really slay me. Completely uninformed about the current state of our environment and the realities of what will happen to America if we don't cease our sense of entitlement to the exclusion of all else, and really not giving a crap even if they were, their God is Charlton Heston, their church the NRA. What possesses these beer-swilling bullies, sitting on their toilets reading Guns and Ammo, miniscule penises hardening at the sight of an A-K 47 semi-automatic, to kill? What drives them to establish themselves as the dominant kingpin of the food chain by shooting innocent animals? Is it a mean boss, an unhappy, let-herself-go wife who resents her lot in life, maybe a couple of unappreciative, paternity questionable kids? Where is the sport in using a telescopic, high-powered rifle, setting a poor beast in your sights where he cannot see, let alone smell you, and pulling the trigger? Animal substituted for boss, wife or kids, meat discarded, head mounted, a trophy to your "skill"?

Not the definition of hunting, but the definition of murder.

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Comments

NorCalCazadora May 24, 2009 @ 10:51 a.m.

Wow, congratulations! This is a really stunning use of stereotype to crush an enemy about whom you obviously know very little.

If you're a vegetarian who opposes the killing of animals for food, that's fine - I totally respect your choice. I really respect you for acting on your values.

But I have zero respect for what you've written about hunters here, because it's obvious there's no intellectual exploration behind it.

I'm an omnivore who has thought deeply about my diet and chosen to eat meat. And as often as possible, I want meat from animals that have lived good lives, so my first choice is wild game that I hunt, and my second choice is local pastured animals that have not been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.

The biggest mistake you've made in this rant, aside from setting up and shooting down a fictional character, is to assume that killing an animal is an act of anger, akin to a retaliatory drive-by shooting. It is, of course, very easy to vilify that. But you couldn't be further from the truth.

We do not hunt out of frustration with our lives; we hunt because it brings us closer to what we have been for most of our time as a species on this planet - omnivores who must work hard to put food on the table.

I'm guessing that comes as a huge surprise to you, that hunters have to work hard to get game. But we do. Animals are not as stupid or defenseless as you appear to think; they are typically endowed with superior eyesight, hearing and/or sense of smell. And they have better camouflage than we humans ever will.

But oh, you say, you have those high-powered rifles and shotguns! You have all the advantage!

Yes and no. Yes, once an animal is in our sights, we do have the advantage - an advantage we humans have sought and developed for our entire time as a species, starting with rocks and sticks and culminating with modern firearms.

But getting an animal within a specified range and in a position where we can get a good shot isn’t as easy as you might think. I have taken my finger off the trigger and watched animals walk (or fly) away many, many times because the shot just wasn't there.

If you want to attack hunting, why not attack the root issue - killing animals - instead of attacking caricatures?

And really, I don't understand why you disdain meat eaters who hunt over those who get their meat from polystyrene trays. We're the ones who have the courage to face the truth behind meat eating - that an animal must die for us to eat it. We don't look the other way as someone else does the killing for us.

Google me, Msgrant. I write about this issue a lot. Perhaps next time you choose to write about it, you can base your vitriol on reality, not fiction. Just be prepared for the upsetting discovery that it's harder to be vitriolic once you realize the people you disdain aren't as stupid as you think.

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David Dodd May 24, 2009 @ 11:42 a.m.

I have no particular leanings toward either side; my father hunted sometimes, and once when he shot a deer we had venison. It remains one of my favorite meats to this day. I do not hunt, it simply doesn't appeal to me. I have no issue with the person who occasionally hunts so long as they hunt for the purpose of consuming what they kill. It is a senseless act of stupidity to hunt and kill for any other purpose, I would hope that this could be a common ground here.

I qualify my statement only to then support Ms. Grant's contention that there are plenty of people that hunt and kill merely for sport, only to employ a taxidermist to skillfully construct trophies as proof to humankind's insatiable desire for dominance of the animal kingdom. I once worked for a man, wealthy and with the capacity to do many great things, who enjoyed trips to Africa. Him, and ostensibly others like him, paid thousands of dollars to go out in vehicles, armed with the latest technology in firearms, and shoot and kill as many different types of animals that they could find.

These animals were then stuffed, or mounted, and brought back to be shown as trophies. He constructed a large room in the manufacturing facility, with glass walls so that all could see his wondrous and awesome trophies, which was kept at optimum temperature to preserve his pride and ego. Every sort of animal was represented in that room; several lions, a tiger, an elephant head, and more. Perhaps fifty in all.

Ms. Cazadora, hunt to your heart's content. But to strike this blog entry down as fiction is naive. And as possible proof that all things happen for a reason and in a timely manner, I am shortly leaving to witness a bullfight. One can say that the bull would have been killed eventually and that I might have even consumed some of it. And the meat will be sold, cheaply, and some of it donated to the poor. But what I am going to witness this afternoon is further proof that humans, some humans, view the killing of animals as sport.

I will write about this bullfight without prejudice, but going in I realize that while people are paying money to watch talented horses and horsemen, they are also paying to watch a man kill an animal. You're correct, Ms. Cazadora; the people you disdain are not as stupid as you think.

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NorCalCazadora May 24, 2009 @ 12:44 p.m.

Most hunters are not Africa trophy hunters; nor are most hunters the ignorant bubbas msgrant describes. The vast majority of us hunt because hunting satisfies a deeply human drive that has been stifled by modern civilization, and hunting puts food on our tables. Really good food. Far better than most non-hunting omnivores eat.

It's convenient to attack the extremes in an effort to discredit the norms. For example, I could just as easily denounce all animal rightists by writing about the terrorists and saboteurs among them. But wouldn't that be silly? Yes, I think it would, even though I disagree with animal rights activists.

It should really come as no surprise that I would resent it when someone uses a grotesque caricature to describe what I (and many people just like me) do. If msgrant wants to attack caricatures instead of attacking the core issue, msgrant should expect to get some backlash.

As for the additional issue you bring to the table, refriedgringo, yes, there are humans who will pay to watch all sorts of violence for all sorts of reasons, whether it's boxing, mixed martial arts, cockfights, dogfights, bullfights or - historically - to-the-death gladiatorial matches. But I'm sorry, that's not hunting. That's watching fights.

What's the difference? Don't hunters "get off" on the kill, just like the people at the bullfight?

I certainly don't. While the hunt is exciting, the kill is the hard part - you have to face the fact that you've just taken a life.

Am I the exception? I don't think so. I think about it and write about it a lot because I'm a new hunter and a writer - I examine everything I do. But I've talked to a lot of other hunters about this, and what I've found is that while we may rejoice in a good shot, because it means what we have practiced and worked for has paid off, with very rare exception we regard the death with sadness and great discomfort. Yes, I know a couple people who don't suffer from those pangs, but they are the exception. And they still eat what they kill.

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MsGrant May 24, 2009 @ 4:04 p.m.

You say on your website one of your quests is to "combat misperceptions about hunting". I suffer no such misperceptions. I have a difficult time reconciling "love and respect" for animals with wanting to "become good at" killing them. To each his own.

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NorCalCazadora May 24, 2009 @ 5:35 p.m.

I understand that is difficult for non-hunters to reconcile - I never would've imagined it possible until I started hunting and experienced it myself. And of course I would never urge you to hunt, because obviously you've chosen a different path. Far be it from me to tell you your choice is wrong for you.

But I'm very glad to hear you suffer no misperceptions about hunters. I'm glad you're aware the vast majority of us eat what we kill, that a trophy isn't the main reason most of us pull the trigger, that we are doctors and lawyers and college professors in addition to plumbers, janitors and sanitation workers, that many of us are fit and well-dressed and do most of our reading anywhere but on the toilet.

I just wish I'd seen that in the piece you wrote here, rather than stereotypes and extremes.

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David Dodd May 25, 2009 @ 12:47 p.m.

Ms. Cazadora:

There is a moment of dead reckoning, when the hunter pulls his or her gun up to sight a target. It is a living, breathing, and living target up until the moment that your brain tells your finger to pull the trigger. Less than one second after your index finger moves backward against the trigger, if successful, an animal has died. While, assuming that you decide to then dress and eat what you've killed, I certainly take no issue with your choice, many others will simply point to that moment of reckoning.

In other words, it isn't stereotypes, extremes, nor caricatures that you are going to be arguing against. Instead, it is the moment of reckoning - that your brain can give a command to your finger that others, including myself, cannot give - that you will find yourself arguing against.

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MsGrant May 25, 2009 @ 3:49 p.m.

I see no happy median. You kill. For fun. There is the rational part of me that wants to say "well, if you haul your kill home, skin it, eviscerate it, butcher it, and then wrap it into tidy pieces in white paper, along with the organ meats being utilized for whatever purposes deemed necessary for survival, then freeze it to last you a certain time", then by all means, carry on. The rub lies in the fact that you don't have to, and I doubt, by your own admission of queasiness, that you ever have, other than the kill shot. Maybe you haul it home. How good that must make you feel, to be sent out for "more meat", you being selected as the killer de jour. By your own admission, you eat the meat of other animals felled by your friends. You buy meat from sustainable sources, then claim you hunt because you disparage the way animals are raised in the name of agriculture. Therefore, you do this for fun. Also, for a sense of belonging to something. There is also the attention you receive from being a female hunter, and being a champion of shunning the norm. Your numerous references to your Sacramento Bee article speak for themselves. As a woman and a feminist, I am not proud of you. I find you pandering to a certain male mentality of slaughter that makes you stand out as a maverick amongst us less-informed "girls". I've shot a gun. I hated it. And it certainly did not make me feel like one of the boys.

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NorCalCazadora May 25, 2009 @ 6:45 p.m.

Refriedgringo, that is precisely what I argued MsGrant should have done - argue the true point of debate here, instead of attacking hunting by presenting a grotesque caricature of the hunter. I don't think that would pass muster even on a junior high school debate team. It's sloppy and lazy.

MsGrant, I'm glad you're finally debating reality (for the most part) instead of a caricature. I understand that you cannot stomach the killing of animals for any reason; I did not expect to change your mind.

You take a few leaps in your criticism of why I hunt, but here's the one that needs correcting the most: I have made the decision to eat meat. Saying I don't "have to" hunt to get my meat suggests that it's somehow better to buy it at the store and let someone else do the dirty work - the killing, the gutting, the butchering. However, there's another way of seeing this: Most meat eaters don't "have to" buy their meat at the store; they could choose a path that gives them more personal responsibility and awareness about the implications of their choice. Tell me, why is it worse to hunt because one enjoys hunting than to eat meat without giving a single thought to the life and death of the animal on the polystyrene tray? What, it's OK to eat meat if you don't enjoy acquiring it? If you stick your head in the sand? I reject that. I find people's disconnection from the source of their meat to be a huge contributor to a waste of animal lives (and deaths) that came at a high cost to the environment, society and human health.

Also, I don't consider you less-informed because you don't hunt; I consider you less informed about hunting because it appears you have not gotten to know your enemy. I have vegetarian and vegan friends, and I talk to them so I can understand where they're coming from; can you say the same? If you can, did you proudly show them what you wrote in your original post here?

But yes, I enjoy hunting. I enjoy it because it connects me to what I am - an omnivore, the product of tens of thousands of years of omnivorous diets. It re-establishes my kinship with the animal kingdom (chock full of carnivores, omnivores and herbivores) from which humans have so carefully - and dangerously - extricated ourselves. That's the sense of belonging hunting gives me. If that offends you, then so be it.

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SDaniels June 4, 2009 @ 6:50 p.m.

Lord, anti- that first was the funniest deer video--almost fell out of my chair!

On taxidermy, I once presented at a Berkeley conference around Halloween, with the theme of the "Undead." I presented on the human taxidermic practice of "plastination." Unfort, the Web page is no longer up, but a colleague gave a paper on Walter Potter, the eminently creepy Victorian taxidermist. The link below gives more than an idea of what his work was all about. Tea parties with kittens are among the most disturbing of the tableaux:

http://seesomethingstrange.blogspot.com/2009/05/walter-potters-victorian-taxidermy.html

As for the hunting, I don't like it any more than you do, MsGrant, and find hunting for purely recreational reasons abhorrent. However, I do feel more at ease with those who hunt meat legally and locally in order to feed themselves. I disagree that we as human beings have a deep "need" to hunt or even consume meat, but would agree with NorCal that to condemn alimentary hunters is a puzzling and hypocritical attitude on the part of those who consume meat from environmentally disastrous and ethically unsound factory farms.

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nan shartel Jan. 27, 2011 @ 8:28 p.m.

i don't see this listed in the blogs Lorie...was up wid dat homey???

do i need to buy stronger readers???

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