Why I'm Not a Hunter
Please understand, that the Tundra PA's post in no way changes the way I view her excellent writing, her passion towards her patients and her community or the frequency with which I plan to continue reading her outstanding blog.
Though I'll never be able to justify for the needless killing of an animal for sport, I am in no way deriding her. I don't believe that my feelings represent a personal failing on my part nor that that lack of acceptance is based on a narrow-minded world view. I do sense however, from what I've read of her, that the Tundra PA, though not embracing my opinion, would not believe so either. I merely wish to reflect personally on how her post affected me.
As an urbanite who has never experienced hunting as a part of my culture her description was chilling. It also struck me as inexplicable.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a confirmed carnivore and harbor no illusions of where my meat comes from. I also understand the need for hunting for food. But hunting for recreation? I'll never "get" that. I'd never interfere with anyone's right to engage in this legal pastime and I thoroughly accept the enormous historical and cultural significance hunting plays in the measure of just who we are as Americans. I also understand and accept the importance that guns play in the psyche of American values. I'm not one to seek limitations on the populace's right to keep weapons for hunting or for the protection of oneself and one's family.
But killing animals for some type of aesthetic rush will always be an alien notion to me. I found the explanation of the Yupik Eskimo's approach to hunting convincing given the context in which it undoubtedly arose. However to invoke it now, in this modern age, to justify purely recreational hunting strikes me as both self-serving and even self-deluding:
When the animal stands facing the hunter, it is offering itself to be taken for the hunter’s needs; it knows this and makes the offer willingly. The hunter must be worthy of the offer, seeking the animal with an attitude of respect and gratitude.To believe this explanation is to project one's internalizing of desires upon a less than sentient being. This is no more rational than Ahab's attribution of towering malevolence to Moby Dick.
"...makes the offer willingly"? How can the moose's behavior be explained in any conceivable manner other than that it simply didn't perceive the threat before it? To imagine that it was in some way offering up its life is fanciful and even repulsive. Do modern students of nature find the notion of an animal committing suicide while assisting the hunter to realize some aesthetic ideal in any way plausible?
Moreover, my sense is that the apparently self-evident notion (at least to those other than myself) that "the hunter must be worthy of the offer," is equally self-serving. To me, this is a concept that is derived mainly from the desire to avoid cognitive dissonance. In other words, 'if my mind and heart are pure, then the commission of this otherwise questionable act will maintain its moral basis.'
Again, I'm not trying to take away anyone's right to hunt. Nor am I even seeking to discourage those inclined towards this activity from continuing to pursue it. I only wish to portray my personal response to an act that I find incomprehensible.
...she felt deeply the respect and gratitude that were the animal’s due; but even these were surmounted completely by her awe at the magnificent beauty of the animal. He stood facing her head on, six feet tall at the shoulder, displaying the full width of his chest and his mighty eight-point rack, calmly chewing on young willow shoots. Perfectly still, he looked at her.
“Thank you,” she whispered, as she gently pulled the trigger.