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June 13, 2006

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Do You Have to Kill to Hunt? Guest columnist Thomas McIntyre on the new World Hunting Association

A Note from Dave: In the half-year or so since this blog came into the world, it's become obvious that the people who read it are far above the average in intelligence and culture. And so for you we have a rare treat: a hunter and shooter whose intellectual attainments, wit, general nastiness, and fund of worthless general information are equalled only by my own--Tom McIntryre (no relation to Reba). Take it, Tom

IF YOU SQUINT enough, you just might be able to make out a descending line of succession from the Baron de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympics, to Pete Rozelle, architect of the NFL, to Mark Burnett, creator of Survivor, to, finally, David S. Farbman, commissioner and CEO of the newly announced World Hunting Association.  For those of you who have been as yet undisturbed by the knowledge of this association, it is nothing less than an effort to cast hunting as a full-blown NASCAR-style competitive sport.  A global tournament circuit is promised, with top professional hunters “competing head to head” in a “man vs. man vs. animal format,” in the words of Mr. Farbman on his web site’s video.  Rest assured, this will be a “cutting-edge (sic) non-fatal hunting competition,” using the WHA’s “patent-pending, respectful” tranquilizing technique, in which the hunters will vie for $500,000, or $600,000, or $300,000 (the figure sidles around somewhat) in prize money by tallying points based on the size of the deer they sedate.  There will be sponsors and product branding; there will be lights and cameras; there will be one of those giant cardboard checks for the winner; and there will be the enhancement of “the image and experience of hunting today and for the generations of tomorrow”—if the generations of tomorrow all happen to be under the influence of the WHA’s respectful tranquilizer.

None of this is to say that the WHA is the worst idea that anyone has ever had, or even the worst to come out of hunting—that whole bison-slaughter thing would rank above this.  But it is a very, very bad idea in so many ways.  Where to begin?

In the first place, tranquilizing a large ungulate is not like playing Whack-a-Mole.  Whatever secret potion the WHA’s competitors use, they will still have to get precisely the right amount of highly toxic serum into a deer’s system to knock him out, and afterward be able to revive him.  Needless-to-say, there are any number of ways in which a scenario like that can go horrendously wrong; and doing it for sport is like putting someone under general anesthesia as an April Fool’s joke.  One part of the world where WHA tournaments won’t be held is South Africa, because recreational hunting for big game with tranquilizing darts, for all of the above reasons, has been outlawed there.

The WHA would like to point to the assorted fishing tours as models for its competitions.  Yet hardly any fishing tournament is held on private stocked waters, while the WHA will involve privately owned deer on high-fenced properties.  No fishing contest I know of includes medicated bass or walleye, and catch-and-release has always been a traditional feature of fishing; in the old days it was called, simply, throwin’ ’em back.  Hunting has never embraced any such concept, and the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset went to some pains in his Meditations on Hunting to denounce the “affected piety” of hunting that attempts to avoid killing—“one kills in order to have hunted.”  This kind of “hunting” the WHA envisions ultimately plays into the anti-hunter’s sneered accusation of “why do you have to kill them?”  (For one thing, it’s much harder to get them to go into the freezer if you don’t.)

And that’s another objection to this sort of travesty, that it divorces hunting from its fundamental purpose of gaining meat for us.  I have a moral right to hunt and capture a wild animal if I intend to eat it, but not merely as the goal of some invented game.  Too many of the once-natural acts that we practice in this world are already bathed in artificial light.  We don’t need to add hunting to the list by reducing its level of authenticity through the use of darts and scorecards.  Though cheerleaders might be nice.

Perhaps the most bizarre claim made by the Commish is that he was inspired to create the WHA because whenever he spent time with other hunters, he noticed that they all seemed “to share a common desire:  to transform hunting to a new level.”  Like a televised competition with prize money and deer collapsing in drug-induced comas?  It’s funny, I can’t think of a single hunter who’s ever mentioned to me that this was a new level he had a burning desire to see hunting transformed into.  Almost every hunter I’ve known has wanted hunting to stay at the level where it is, or if it were possible, to return to an even earlier, simpler, and more genuine one.

It’s hard to imagine the WHA not falling out of its treestand before it ever gets started (already, two of the companies listed as major sponsors of the tour have decided that they aren’t any kind of sponsors, after all).  If a competition is ever held, it’s likely that the boos of the hoards of anti-hunters massed outside the fence will dampen the enthusiasm of the festivities, while the boos of legitimate hunters shouldn’t be any less audible.  It probably won’t be necessary to outlaw an almost-guaranteed fiasco like the WHA; but there’s nothing wrong in doing what you can to shame it out of existence.

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Comments

El-Wazir

Unfortunately, it appears that we've spawned yet another global village idiot. What's next, an African paintball safari? Even better, how about making paintball an Olympic sport?

Mark

Sounds like a bunch of smoke and mirrors to me.

"If it's almost a sport, You'll see it here.....!!!!!"

BTY--darting drugs into any wildlife in New York State by us Commoners is a major no-no.

“to share a common desire: to transform hunting to a new level.”

Maybe he hunts with Kathryn Armstrong.

Concerned_Soldier

Yeah I agree sounds dumb!!

But before we went to IRAQ, we trained with a all new type of muntion, called a sub-munition (Don't quote me on the name) but needless to say, it was small paint ball about the same dia. of a 9MM and well, if you have ever been hit by a paint ball, try multipling it by 10 to get the real effect of one of these sub-munitions. Kind of cool at first, that was until you got hit!

just my $.02!

V/R

C_S

Doug

This will be as stupid as the can hunts where. Not hunting at all.

tom

years ago a buddy and i contemplated the idea of catch and release hunting. we thought it would be cool to stalk an animal, shoot it, have our picture taken, then have the animal get up and run away, to be hunted again another day. i can easily fill my freezer with venison and antelope where i live, today, because we enjoy a five week season but when i pull the trigger, there is finality to the shot. imagine having the ability to hunt a full season, take more than one trophy and still fill the freezer. my issue with the entire WHA is $$$$$$. i fish for the joy of fishing and release every fish i catch-if i could "shoot" more game animals, but fill my freezer with the legal limits, that would be pretty sweet.

matt

to tom:

you are precisely the kind of person i wouldn't hunt with (note that i used "person" and not "hunter" in reference to you).

B. Cameron

Where to begin? Perhaps with the shortest and easiest answer.

To Tom: Fill a photo album. Shoot film, not bullets. Fill the freezer, then consider wildlife photography. I think you might find some true enjoyment in such an approach.

“the image and experience of hunting today and for the generations of tomorrow”

Say what? How do they plan to televise the incredible experiences one takes part in when hunting?

The images and experience can never be accurately shared or reproduced - except through the sharing of field time with friends and family.

How can they televise the pre-dawn of May, walking through dew-covered fields with a shotgun on one shoulder and a bag of dekes on the other? How can the televise the multitude of sensations that go with that? The sky lightening, the first sliver of sun breaking the horizon, the faint smell of fresh leaves, the chill of cold feet in damp boots, and the sudden rush of adrenaline when that first gobble echoes through the woods?

How can they share the experience of a November morning, stomping through calf-deep snow to a favorite tree stand, bundled into as many layers as will fit under your camo, wriggling fingers and toes to stay warm? Can TV adequately communicate the gentle hush of a winter woods in a falling snow? The whisper of individual flakes landing, piling up in the fields? The questioning snort of a nervous buck?

Can watching a hunt on TV ever compare to the feeling of learning something new from a respected mentor? Be it father, family, or friend, that shared experience can bind two people closer than nearly any other life event.

It should be obvious by now: hunting is, for me, far more than putting meat in the freezer. Honestly, if it was just about meat, there are less time-consuming and far less frustrating ways to do it. Hunting is a time to share with friends and loved ones, or a time to better explore oneself alone with nature. There is no closer connection to primal man than to be afield with only a weapon and one's own wits to survive.

Radios? Pagers? Cell phones? GPS? Not in my deer woods. My time in the woods is for me - to enjoy the gifts that are out there, see new things, and learn - about my world, my friends, and myself.

None of that can ever be shared on a TV screen. If the experience and images of hunting are to be preserved for future generations, it is because each and every one of us makes an effort to take friends and loved ones, siblings and children and even parents, out into the woods with us to share what we have. Some of them won't "get it". Some will. Our legacy is only as good as we make it...

R McBride

B Cameron said it much more eloquently than I can. I guess this ridiculous plan is just another way of giving a vicarious thrill to a whole lot of people who are too lazy or too afraid of the responsibilities they face in the big outdoors to go out there and hunt for themselves. Or maybe they would like to but don't have the guts to admit that they actually killed something.
Has anyone else ever been accused of barbarism for hunting by someone who was eating a steak dinner at the time? I have! I have also been criticised for hunting by a very earnest person who wore leather shoes and a very smart leather jacket. And this in a country where deer released into the wild have become pests and have to be controlled to protect our forests.
Those of us who honour the animals we shoot and who care for the environment in which they live need never be ashamed of hunting. People who want to turn it into a spectator sport should be!

Kevin

Dear Mr. Petzal,

I'm sure that Mr. McIntyre feels humbled by your lofty comparisons.

Mr. McIntyre,
You write well. Welcome to this holy blog.

I think that hunting means different things to different people; and I'm talking about people that take some sort of killing device afield. I'd like to think that there would not be an actual market for this darting thing to get going.

The description that Mr. McIntyre has given of the WHA seems to me to be of a fellow that is trying to use "hunting" as a vehicle (notice the NASCAR pun) just to make a lot of money. I don't think that someone that really loves hunting would be involved in such an endeavor.

As for folks that want to interact with nature, but leave no "footprints", I'm not sure that this can be accomplished. Anytime we go afield we leave our mark, no matter how unobtrusive we may try (if we try) to be.

I don't believe that not killing is the answer. If we really wanted to be ultra humane, we would just stay home and grow vegetables. This goes for trout fishermen that practice complete catch and release and look down their noses at those that enjoy a fish dinner; to that Australian Croc Goober that expounds on how he loves the "beautiful" animals that he catches on his TV show. Some released fish die, not necessarily immediately, from their "humane" encounter. Aussie Steve stresses the crap out of the poor creatures that he catches to inflate his ego and promote his show. Humane hunting involves a quick (not always possible, as hunters we must have the stomach to accept this responsibility) merciful death of a living creature.

Great! I'm starting to get pissed. I guess that Mr. Farbman should come to Texas where I live and get his sorry idea going. We shoot stuff behind high fence and at feeders. We raise big deer through breeding programs for our big egos and we obviously have too much money (whining about lease prices). It really isn't all that bad here, but it ain't all that good either. If Mr. Farbman comes around here, I'm prepared to "boo". I've even written letters to editors...yes..I'm a toughy.

Oooops...got a go...got Survivor taped :)

tom

It would be hard to improve upon the foregoing comments, but I must say "Only in America", where everything is commercialized and made competetive if at all possible. I love to fish, but fishing contests give me a headache and I have nothing but contempt for the whole concept. Extending the idea to deer hunting is beyond idiotic and I wish the purveyors of this plan nothing but the worst of bad luck.

Jim Dicken

I can see a competition that would use a gun of sorts, and challenge hunters to get close to their game... IE a camera / rangefinder. The closer you get the more points you get. ONE picture per animal. Tests the nerve of the hunter and is a real competition that does not endanger the animal.
NOW the problem is do we really want to paint hunting as a non lethal sport. NO. Hunting is a tool to control the wildlife. With the growth of civilization living with Lions and Grizzlies is not a great option. I realize we have lived with them for centuries, but in the past they as much feared us as we feared them. Now that we no longer hunt many predators due to near extinction, they no longer fear us.. IE the cougar attacks in California, Black Bear in Tennessee, and Alligators in Florida... although I dont think Gators have a brain large enough to recognize man as anything other than food.
The new generation of kids brought up in schools by PETA loving teachers and PETA funded programs need to understand that wildlife needs to be controlled and hunters do that, like it or not.

Ron Reddon

Farbman's "Blunting for Dollars" was just the next logical dive to the bottom for the High Fence/Low Ethics pen shooter crowd. Blunting an animal with a drug-filled arrow shot out of a compound bow is just beyond the pale, and these people should be ashamed that this twisted idea ever made the light of day. One would think that after the Bellar's Place disgrace, these High Fence outfits would be a little more attuned to at least try to pretend they have a shard of hunting ethics left in their moral makeup, instead of flooring it on their race to the bottom.

Jeff Olsen

I was born and raised in Western Michigan. In that magical place, I learned to hunt, fish, and trap from my father, uncle, and great-grandfather. It was a way of life, a bonding experience, an a way of celebrating God's fantastic creations.

When I got older, I left Michigan to pursue a career in the military. (All the men in my family, on both sides, have served, for at least three generations.) I had the opportunity to hunt and fish in my travels. (I thank the individual states for recognizing a serviceman's post as legal residence for the purpose of obtaining licenses and permits.) Throughout my travels, whether it be the famed trout streams of the Northeast, to the swamps and bottomlands of the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Delta, there is one universal truth. People of all walks of life both love and cherish the outdoors and the hunting and fishing opportunities it provides. In addition, regardless of the location, people suppliment their diet with wild fish and game.

I can recall one particular fishing trip, when a couple of fly fisherman looked down their noses at me desperately trying to make a fly rod do anything but tie knots. However, they changed their tunes once I had a fire built and began cooking up my hard earned catch. They even stopped by to share a couple of tips over a cup of coffee. Complete strangers, miles away from "civilization", breaking bread and sharing fellowship; this is as much a part of the experience as the act of harvest.

Every year, regardless of our individualy hectic lives, my freinds and I take time to share in a hunt. This is always done on public land, without a guide, using fair chase methods. When a deer or hog is taken, it is an individual, solitary experience. Once the animal has been downed, we help each other retrieve it and get it back to camp. Once back at camp, there are a few photos snapped for the scrapbook. Then we process the animal right there in camp.

The non-hunter would be shocked at the "dinner party" that commences once the venison starts cooking. Often times, other hunters/campers join in the festivities. Many of these people have become friends whom we call and e-mail during the year until the next hunt.

These impromptu celebrations all have a common theme... WE EAT WHAT WE KILL!!! This is impossible to do if one is using tranquilizers or only photography.

Hunting and to an extent fishing (except catch and release which I seldom practice), have that finality of death and sacrifice of an animal. People need to respect this as a part of being human and/or omnivorous.

The anti-sportsman must remind himself that the fish at the market once swam the free waters. He must also be reminded that cows are not born and raised in styrofoam packages wrapped in celophane. Someone must kill an animal in order for it to be packaged in family sized portions.

It is obvious to those of us who hunt that killing is as much a part of the process as breaking gound is part of raising vegetables and grain. It is part of the human experience. Considered by some an ugly experience, but necesary none the less.

Some would argue about the methods used, i.e. firearms, bows etc. being inhumane. I have seen several USDA inspected slaughter houses that are far more barbaric than anything a hunter could conceive. For those disbelievers, I welcome them to tour a chicken processor.

A duck or pheasant properly hit with a shotgun blast will die instantly. If, by chance, the bird is only wounded, the hunter will immediately fire a second shot. The process is over in a matter of a few seconds. The same is true of other game.

I have seen prolonged panic in the eyes of cows, pigs, and sheep as they are sorted and shuffled into a processing facility. Many times these animals are merely stunned prior to being hoisted upside down and having their throats cut. This is what it takes for the meat to be delivered to the market. One should remember, just because it's clean and neatly packaged in the refrigerated case... it didn't get there by magic.

Justin

Great post Jeff. I've had run-ins with people who hate hunting but I've seen them picking up chicken in the grocery store and grilling out. They think it just gets magically put there I guess. Always find it interesting to see the look on people's faces when you say you hunt. Some just haven't been exposed to it, but what they don't realize is anything taken in the woods is done much more fairly than anything they buy on a shelf.

Matt

Sort of reminds me of a stunt dreamed up shortly after the movie Jaws came out. They were planning on having some clown go to Somoa for a "fight to the death" with a wild great white shark (nevermind that whites don't live anywhere near Somoa). Never happened, though.

Kevin

Jeff,
Very nice post! ...the part about your hunting experiences.

Going to a slaughter house is a very eye opening and sobering experience. I wish that conditions were better for the livestock, but I'm not going to take time out of my life to change things at this time, nor am I going to stop eating commercially prepared meat and poultry. I think that all meat-eating non-hunters owe it to themselves to visit a commercial slaughter house.

Peter Caroline

Turning hunting into a catch-and-release "reality show" is a really boneheaded idea. It definitely plays into the picture that PETA and the Animal Left people want to paint of hunters. It's in the same league as that Internet hunting nonsense. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.

Paul

To the WHA and all the people that would support such a despicable practice... Didn't your mother tell you not to play with your food?!

Greg Russell

The entire idea is as obnoxious as an idea can be. We`ve been having the very same discussion at the Mike Hanback Big Buck blog at the Outdoor Life site, and it`s obvious that the people with a hunter`s heart are against this silliness, and will not tolerate it.

One suggestion is to contact whoever might be silly enough to be a “proud” sponsor of this pathetic event, and explain why you will no longer be considering their product. If enough of us do this, it will hit home for them rather quickly.

Will we NEVER see the end of the insanity the quest for money will take us to?

Adam


I know I'm coming in late on this one, but I wanted to put in my two cents nonetheless.
After reading Mr. McIntyre's blog, I felt a certain disgust that I haven't felt since I first heard of online click-n-shoot hunting. I find it unlikely that anyone could conceive a more appalling exploit of our beloved pastime. Surely all of those who participate in WHA's spectacle will be denied entry to the
"happy hunting grounds" outright for their offense. Sadly enough, for these scorned few, the purity and sacredness of hunting goes competely unnoticed. It is simply unadulterated ignorance, and yet, it is ignoramuses like Mr. Farbman who manage to find their way into the public spot light.


To all REAL outdoorsman, we must remain aware of the progress of Mr. Farbman's inane proposition and others like it. If any of these ideas manage to find some kind of entity in the outdoor world, the mouse clickin', dart gun shootin', parking lot huntin', big game poachin' SOB's of the world will ruin and inevitably destroy hunting as we know it.

Papa Joe

I believe that each and every sponsor of this unreal organization, Should be listed in every official sporting publication and broadcast on every "true" hunting program then each one should be boycotted by all the "true", hunting and sporting person. However, I can't get myself to believe that this "joke" will ever see the light of day.




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