View Full Version : The moral toughness of hunters ???

November 18, 2002, 10:53 PM
From the Denver (com)Post, 11/18. Thought this guy might, just might say something worthwhile. Nevermind.

"By Ed Colby

Monday, November 18, 2002 - After he shot off his big toe, my dad lost all interest in guns. He lived to fish, but he never took me hunting.
When I came of age, I bought an army surplus British .303 rifle and went forth into the Colorado hills above Loveland to hunt. I had no idea how, really. I walked in the woods for a while. When I heard shots, I sat down by a clearing, thinking a deer might come by. I learned this hunting technique from reading Outdoor Life magazine.

After a time, I heard rustling in the brush, and a deer emerged at the far edge of the opening. When I fired, the animal instantly dropped. Euphoric, I ran to it. A wave of revulsion and remorse swept over me, but like anybody determined to shoot a gun, I pushed my emotions aside and did what I came to do.

It was only after that second shot that I realized, to my dismay, that I had killed a fawn. Not a spotted fawn, like Bambi, but a "yearling fawn" - one that had probably been born in the spring of the previous year. She was at least as big as a German shepherd. Yet when had I aimed at her, she hadn't looked like a fawn at all. She just looked like a deer.

As I gutted my kill, I tried to convince myself that I'd shot a "small doe." Over and over I told myself that. This self-deception worked until I got back to the car with my prize. There another hunter congratulated me. "Nice little fawn," he said.

My shame and humiliation was not yet complete. When my mother saw the tiny carcass hanging in the garage, she recoiled in horror. "It's a baby," she gasped. "How could you?" Then, "Get it out of here."

I no longer hunt, but I don't mind if other people do. Hunters exhibit a certain moral toughness. They accept that eating meat means killing. They understand that the natural world is not Disneyland.

I define hunters as those who harvest animals for food, not "sportsmen" who collect heads or amuse themselves by shooting prairie dogs. Hunters act out humankind's oldest provider instinct, while the others seem merely wanton.

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to hunters from Texas, Alabama and Kentucky who come out West every fall. I don't exactly understand why they can't just shoot a deer back home (maybe there are none left), but I suppose this must be a ritual they love. They get together with their buddies, sleep in tents, drink some whiskey, play cards and maybe they even get lucky and kill an elk while they're out walking in the woods.

If they are fortunate, nobody has a heart attack or gets lost or stranded in a snowstorm. As long as a healthy number of animals remains when the season ends, I don't see the harm. The herds normally need thinning so that deer and elk don't suffer the ultimate cruelty of starvation.

I can also see that hunting provides jobs and income in rural areas that need it. Plenty of farmers and ranchers manage to survive with the help of hunting-lease income.

If anyone wants to feel sorry for animals, feel sorry for chickens raised in crowded little cages. Feel sorry for calves force-fed milk and butchered for veal. Pity pigs "produced" on factory farms. These animals have in common that they usually live in harsh circumstances before we kill and eat them.

The deer and elk at least roam wild and free. They fight and mate and raise their young. One day they will die, as we all must, perhaps killed by a mountain lion or a pack of coyotes, a car or starvation or disease. Or a hunter.

You say you never eat red meat? Then nothing I say will make any difference. You also show a kind of morality - and my hat's off to you. As for the rest of you, I recommend that you hunt.

With luck, you'll discover intimately what few people truly comprehend. Afterward, a T-bone on the grill will never look the same to you.

But when you finally place your quarry in your sights, and you're about to squeeze the trigger, do yourself a favor. Make dead sure it's not a fawn.

Ed Colby is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia."

November 19, 2002, 01:14 AM
i'm not sure what to think of the article...i don't see his point, other than he's got a platform to take a few shots at hunting.

Fred Hansen
November 19, 2002, 02:31 AM
Hmmm... His dad shot his own toe off.

The son can't figure out what he is, or is not about to shoot, and his remorse over shooting a yearling is every other hunter's fault.

I would say that it sounds like the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

November 19, 2002, 04:40 AM
I actually liked that article.

He recognizes that there are all kinds of folks out there. Indeed there are.

He also says that if you're a vegetarian you are showing some kind of commitement to personal values. Much as I dislike that, it's true...

He also says everyone who is not a vegetarian should hunt. I agree, it would teach people about the real world and real life.

But the woods would be awfully crowded that day. I'm glad not everyone hunts, but I wish everyone was as willing to allow others to engage in the pastime of hunting as much as Colby seems to be...

November 19, 2002, 06:13 AM
You have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He gave hunting a try. For whatever reason, he decided he doesn't want to personally kill and dress his own food. He understands that some people do enjoy it and they are performing a useful service by regulating wildlife.

But unlike most media/democrat/liberal/Peta Morons, just because he doesn't like a given activity, he doesn't find the need to stigmatize the people that do enjoy it and he doesn't try to ban the activity altogether.

November 19, 2002, 10:02 AM
This seems like a case where the guy needed a little bit of fatherly teaching to be successful. It really stresses the importance of passing on to others the information and attitudes/outlook you have.
There's no way my father would have thrown out a deer because it was too small. Once it's dead you might as well eat it, can't bring it back to life. He would have said good shot, but then he would have teased me about bringing in a baby and probably added something like a good hunter doesn't shoot babies, but let's them go to grow up and has the patience to wait for a real deer. And I would have gotten the point.
But then my father wouldn't have given up hunting and guns because of a toe.

Navy joe
November 19, 2002, 08:16 PM
Excellent article. Just because he is incompetent as a hunter does not mean he has no insight as to hunting. He correctly assesses the need for hunting and the hypocrisy of people that could eat steak all day long and still have bad things to say about hunters.

As far as veggies, I have a few in the family, more power to 'em in convincing themselves that a grilled ****take mushroom is meat. It ain't. Now don't most of those earth-crunchies wear Birkenstocks? You know, the ones with the leather straps.

Especially appreciated his point on the inherent cruelty of commercial animal husbandry. Shoot a wild turkey, you'll find it's not a Butterball since it actually got a chance to use its muscles instead of being confined and slowly turning into juicy white meat. Not that I won't eat domestic meat, do it all the time.

Art Eatman
November 19, 2002, 08:51 PM
Interesting article; interesting responses.

I have a bit of a different take about the "moral toughness" of a hunter.

I was about six years old when my grandparents got their farm/ranch operation up and running. 1940. I spent a good bit of time with them during WW II.

You wanna eat chicken? Catch one, either wring its neck or chop its head off. Dip in scalding water, pluck, and then butcher.

Bacon? Ham? Slaughter a hog, catch the blood, skin and butcher.

Veggies and such? Well, go out to the garden and remove the cutworms from this or that plant and squash'em. Between thumb and forefinger. Gather the various veggies when ripe, do the peeling and all, and then do the canning.

Don't want to lose eggs or chickens to predators? Spread strychnine on a piece of bread, place outside henhouse at night; remove carcass of possum or coon in the morning.

Kill various snakes that either go after eggs, or the rattling kind that hang out in the haybarn. Be careful when grabbing a bale of hay; something might buzz at you.

All the above was very common for the vast majority of Americans until the demographic shifts of the nineteen-teens through the nineteen-thirties.

And even later, for some of us.

To me, then, there's no moral toughness whatsoever in shooting Bambi. While there is generally more social ritual to the hunting than to killing a chicken, the end result is no different. But to get all wound up about the morals of hunting is in many ways equal to getting all wound up about the morality of eating any old meal at home.

As a caveat, this is all different from the ethics of fair chase and that aspect of hunting which derives from respect for a game animal.


Fred Hansen
November 19, 2002, 09:20 PM
But to get all wound up about the morals of hunting is in many ways equal to getting all wound up about the morality of eating any old meal at home.Precisely.

November 20, 2002, 05:11 PM
If you don't feel a little bit somber after shooting a deer, it's time to quit deer hunting.

That's just my opinion.

Of course the best parts of hunting all happen befor eyou take your shot. Once you make the shot the rest is work.

Kind of reminds me of something I frequently say: "The fishing was great, the catching wasn't so good." It's not always about the end results.

Art Eatman
November 20, 2002, 05:46 PM
Dunno if "somber" is the word, but to me there has to be respectability in the taking of any life. Maybeso similar to the allegation that the Indian apologized to the spirit of the deer or buffalo before beginning the hunt. In a larger sense, it's tied into the notion of some Greater Power that set up the system--and you show respect to His children, whatever sort they may be. Doesn't matter if it's bird, deer, fish or carrot.

I'm part of that system. Why should there be any sort of "moral toughness" in getting my hands dirty? In acquiring food?

"Morally tough"? Naaaaaah. Grown up. Normal adult. Aware of the realities of the world in which I live.

And aware of my own mortality, for that matter...

:), Art

November 20, 2002, 07:24 PM
Killing game always makes me reflective. It's sort of a let down that the whole thing is over, but there's also the wave of good feelings and success.
I do wish that people were more sensible about where their meat comes from. Then again, knowing where steak and boneless chicken breast meat comes from might turn the world into some nightmarish veggie-only "PETA world" such as Arthur C. Clarke has envisioned, in which no one eats "Corpse food".

HAHA-the auto-editor removed the "s" word from ****ake mushrooms. :)

Art Eatman
November 20, 2002, 09:16 PM
One of the strange little female creatures on one of the early-morning TV shows went all wiggly and "Ooo-ie!" at the idea of boiling a live lobster. Katie Couric, that's the one.

Her reaction typified for me a major problem among people in today's US of A: A total divorcement from understanding of the realities of the world they live in.

Milk comes from a store in a plastic container; who needs dairies? Beef and chicken come cut and wrapped from the grocery; who needs feedlots or "chicken factories"? Similarly, bacon; who needs hog-farms? Water comes from a tap; who needs dams and reservoirs? Magic happens when you wiggle the handle on the bathroom "facility"; who needs those horrible "waste treatment" facilities? (We once called them sewer plants, or "skunk works".) Lights happen because of a switch on the wall; who needs those nasty old power plants or transmission lines?

And who needs all those blue collar ruffians? Just because they make it all the afore-mentioned facets of life possible doesn't mean that all us really-neat elite need be concerned about their opinions about life.

Glad I don't live in that world.


Smokey Joe
November 22, 2002, 02:04 AM
Art, you DO live in "that world." There is only one world. It is getting inhabited more and more by the type of people who get "oo-ey" about boiling lobsters. You and I are of the minority. And Katie Couric influences more people than you and me put together.

I understand what you're saying about the disconnection in some people's minds between the conveniences society wants and the messiness required to produce those conveniences, though. It gets worse: They think something magic happens when they press the accellerator of a car, so the car goes faster. No law of thermodynamics, no friction, no Newton's Laws, no nothing. Just magic. In movies, the magic is that Clint Eastwood fires off a blank (not even pointed at the guyÑactors are careful about that!) and the bad guy falls "dead"Ñthey think the same skill and effort level will produce successful hunting if they think about it at all.

What we have to hope and pray is, that these "oo-ey"people stay apathetic about their voting and disorganized about their politics. If they get militantly oo-ey, and seriously organized, we can kiss our guns goodbye. But it won't matter, because a little while later, we will have to kiss our country goodbye too.

Fortunately, the dream that most of these people live in extends to every aspect of their lives. Everything that happens, happens by magic. No logical thought on their part has any effect, so why bother to think logically. I know this is scary, but I believe it to be true. I would be delighted to be shown to be wrong.

This is getting really depressing. I wish I didn't believe it.

Art Eatman
November 22, 2002, 10:38 AM
To remind us of Ladybug's questions about CabelaWorld, this "Divorcement" factor brings in another facet of many in America: Ownership creates skill, just in and of itself.

How many guys have you ever met who act insulted at the idea of taking a training course in the use of that handgun they just bought--their first handgun. (But if they add a scope, they'll start to actually hit a target.)

How many guys would be truly insulted and get all ory-eyed if you tell them they can't drive a carll, worth sour apples? I've seen some in the early stages of sports car racing. They're gonna show the world. Humility comes when they get lapped within a few minutes.

The flip side of the skill and knowledge coin: I've known guys who were continually in a swivet over the cost of car repairs. They didn't do their own repairs because they didn't know how. My comment ran along the lines of well, they got a degree in engineering or geology via books; how about buying a shop manual and some tools? The obvious problem was that they didn't want to get their hands dirty.

And so in today's world many people equate your or my lack of concern about dirty hands during food-gathering, with moral toughness.