Hunting Perverts Kids’ Natural Affinity for Animals

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that the serial killer, Keith Hunter Jesperson, first got his taste for killing animals at the early age of six. I bring this up again because of the fact that our potential vice president-to-be intends for his 10 year-old daughter to get her first taste for killing deer this fall.

Candidate Paul Ryan said in a recent interview with the Safari Club International: “Lately, I’ve had the great pleasure of introducing my children to the hunt.  I have some two-seated ladder stands, so I take my kids with me for deer gun season (one at a time of course).  I also take my kids pheasant and duck hunting.”

Children are impressionable and easily influenced in their pre-teens. What kind of person wants his daughter to imprint on the killing, death and dismemberment of a creature as beautiful as a deer, duck or pheasant before she’s even old enough to date—let alone drive a car? And what kind of society encourages its children to learn to blast living beings out of existence? Are we trying to send a message to our youngsters that non-human life has no value and that an animal’s death is meaningless? Or are we purposefully trying to recruit more serial killers like Keith Hunter Jesperson, Jeffry Dahmer, Zodiak or Alaskan trophy hunter, Robert Hansen, who began their fledgling murder careers by killing animals?

The media has largely joked-off Paul Ryan’s plan to corrupt his little girl with killing, but when there are innocent lives at stake, it’s no laughing matter. In some cases it’s the hunting industry and their state game department puppets that are to blame for pushing kids into the killing fields earlier and earlier. Although no state issues a driver’s license to anyone less than 16 years old, most states don’t even have a minimum age for shooting at an animal with a gun.

In direct answer to the drop in sportsmen’s numbers over the years, meddlesome state game departments are encouraging grade-schoolers to get a taste for killing (thereby perverting their natural affinity for animals). For example, Alabama opens deer season two days early for children under the age of 16 (so they’ll have a better crack at “bagging” one), and Maine holds a “Youth Deer Day,” allowing pre-season bow hunting for children ages 10 to 16.

Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf and A Whale for the Killing, wrote the following about his indoctrination to hunting in his foreword to Captain Paul Watson’s Ocean Warrior:

“Almost all young children have a natural affinity for other animals, an attitude which seems to be endemic in young creatures of whatever species. I was no exception. As a child I fearlessly and happily consorted with frogs, snakes, chickens, squirrels and whatever else came my way.

“When I was a boy growing up on the Saskatchewan prairies, that feeling of affinity persisted—but it became perverted. Under my father’s tutelage I was taught to be a hunter; taught that “communion with nature” could be achieved over the barrel of a gun; taught that killing wild animals for sport establishes a mystic bond, “an ancient pact” between them and us.

“I learned first how to handle a BB gun, then a .22 rifle and finally a shotgun. With these I killed “vermin”—sparrows, gophers, crows and hawks. Having served that bloody apprenticeship, I began killing “game”—prairie chicken, ruffed grouse, and ducks. By the time I was fourteen, I had been fully indoctrinated with the sportsman’s view of wildlife as objects to be exploited for pleasure.

“Then I experienced a revelation.

“On a November day in 1935, my father and I were crouched in a muddy pit at the edge of a prairie slough, waiting for daybreak.

“The dawn, when it came at last, was grey and sombre. The sky lightened so imperceptibly that we could hardly detect the coming of the morning. We strained out eyes into swirling snow squalls. We flexed numb fingers in our shooting gloves.

“And then the dawn was pierced by the sonorous cries of seemingly endless flocks of geese that cam drifting, wraithlike, overhead. They were flying low that day. Snow Geese, startling white of breast, with jet-black wingtips, beat past while flocks of piebald wavies kept station at their flanks. An immense V of Canadas came close behind. As the rush of air through their great pinions sounded in our ears, we jumped up and fired. The sound of the shots seemed puny, and was lost at once in the immensity of wind and wings.

“One goose fell, appearing gigantic in the tenuous light as it spiralled sharply down. It struck the water a hundred yards from shore and I saw that it had only been winged. It swam off into the growing storm, its neck outstreched, calling…calling…calling after the fast-disappearing flock.

“Driving home to Saskatoon that night I felt a sick repugnance for what we had done, but what was of far greater import, I was experiencing a poignant but indefinable sense of loss. I felt, although I could not then have expressed it in words, as if I had glimpsed another and quite magical world—a world of oneness—and had been denied entry into it through my own stupidity.

“I never hunted for sport again.”

There is a 50-50 chance that an avid (and possibly rabid) bow hunter, who is taking “great pleasure” in perverting his young children’s natural affinity for animals, could become our next vice president. Let’s hope Mitt Romney doesn’t lend Ryan his magic underpants for the upcoming debate with Vice President Biden. Our family values are really at stake this time.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

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27 thoughts on “Hunting Perverts Kids’ Natural Affinity for Animals

  1. The story of the Snow Goose is not unlike what I experienced last hunting season as a Snow Goose, crippled by hunters, limped along in the muddy trenches of the hunting field, calling after her disappearing flock (http://bit.ly/VBFIw2). I understand the mechanics of how people shut down emotionally, as Mowat describes. But to this day, I still can’t fathom how hunters can not only witness this, but actually *cause* this level of suffering over and over again, throughout their adult lives, without any sense of the regret that eventually overcomes those who finally put down the gun. As with many hunting incidents I’ve witnessed, the sight, the sound, the emotion, and the wretched heartache of the situation lives with me forever and pierces my thoughts in quiet moments. It saddens me beyond repair that the heart can be so hardened as to be immune forever to the cries of suffering from our nonhuman kin.

    • Still not sure if some of those people aren’t born immune, without a heart to harden…
      These lines in your blog post– ‘Almost every state has hunter harassment laws that penalize persons who interfere in any way with a hunt. This precludes retrieving fallen birds that are still alive on a hunter’s turf, or rescuing an animal dying slowly from a bowhunting wound as the hunters wait out its demise’– makes me think the state wildlife lawmakers are as heartless as the hunters lining in the muddy pits.

      • GB Shaw said: “Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity; and fashion will drive them to acquire any custom.” One need look no further than the book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” to see where all that can lead: perfectly ordinary, everyday folk completely comfortable with shooting thousands of unarmed men, women and children in the back of the head because of their ethnicity. At least those killers could claim they were acting “under orders.” What excuse can people hunting for “sport” offer?

        As far as the state “hunter harassment” laws are concerned, as philosopher Steven Best and countless brave veterans of the civil rights struggle will testify: if a law is inherently unjust, you BREAK IT!

      • Right, and how much more unjust can a law be than to criminalize the rescuing of an injured animal?
        And you’re right, hunters don’t have the excuse of following orders–their acts are self-motivated.

      • Pete I agree with you entirely in principle. Logistically speaking — I’m curious about the experience of others here — I’ve personally made choices that are situationally based on being alone and dealing with the violent individuals I’ve encountered. It’s not an excuse not to stand defiant in the middle of a hunting field, because I know standing up for what’s just and humane is not supposed to be a walk in the park, nor an exercise in personal indulgence. I’ve had to fend off physical assaults for intervening on behalf of animals, and my safety is often the price I’m willing to pay for what’s “right.”

        The biggest problem with hunting is that it almost always takes place entirely out of view of other individuals … including any acts of civil disobedience on display. I think the key to countering it on site would be organizing a public viewing, as it were. It’s obvious that the laws and funding structures are skewed to favor hunting interests at every turn, and justice for animals will never be served as long as this entrenched power rules the law. I think countering it has to be a multi-pronged approach, including a challenge to, as you say, laws that are horribly, wretchedly unjust and condoning of the worst facets of our culture and character.

      • Ingrid, I deeply admire your courage and grit in facing down armed goons in secluded locations to help abused animals. Prudence would dictate choosing ones battles carefully when dealing with heavily armed thugs in the woods — there is no advantage to being “accidentally” shot for the cause.

        My view is that when fighting an opponent on their own terrain (and the good, old US of A is nothing if not the sport hunter’s promised land) you try to turn that opponent’s advantages against him; specifically: try if possible to be always accomapanied on rescue missions by someone (preferrably someone with a video camera), never go into the woods unless armed, as is your much-ballyhooed Constitutional right, and be familiar with your state’s laws regarding self-defense (recent events in Florida come immediately to mind). If the NRA’s goal is to supply every American with lethal weaponry and put them all on hair-trigger alert, than let’s adopt that swaggering demeanor as our own and make the best of it. Bullies only prosper when their victims are defenseless. I’ve read repeatedly in CASH newsletters stories about property owners who choose to post their land being badgered, vandalized and abused by incensed hunters. I can only say that these same hunters would have come away the poorer had they tried anything like that on me!

        On the subject of hunter harassment laws, I’m baffled that no one convicted of violating them has, so far as I’m aware, appealed the decision to higher courts. One might think that the ACLU could take time out from defending the rights of jihadists and pornographers long enough to address such a genuine threat to freedom of expression. But I guess limousine liberals have other priorities.

      • Pete, I have an acquaintance who’s adamantly against hunting, who owns a large tract of farm land stuck between a huge swath of hunted land. His land is coveted by hunters since he’s cultivated it to provide ample habitat and safe sanctuary for waterfowl and other wildlife. He’s been vandalized in the way you suggest, his anti-hunting signs torn up, his fences cut and so forth. The harassment is so excessive and constant, I believe he’s considering selling which will be a great loss to the wild animals who find sanctuary on his property.

        People don’t realize how ruthless the worst among the hunters can be. The fact that any “no shooting” or “no hunting” sign is generally shot up is indicative of the pervasive mentality.

        As far as being armed, I learned to shoot in my 20s — skeet and target rifle, no living targets ever. Since that time, however, I’ve developed such an aversion to guns because of what they generally signify in my experience, it would take a lot for me to upturn that paradigm. But your point is well taken. If we lived in the same neighborhood, I might take you up on your tutelage. ;-)

  2. >>>”….I saw that it had only been winged. It swam off into the growing storm, its neck outstreched, calling…calling…calling after the fast-disappearing flock.”<<<

    If that image doesn't break a heart….nothing will.

  3. >>>” as if I had glimpsed another and quite magical world—a world of oneness—and had been denied entry into it <<<

    Couldn't help but wonder – do any of you think that this might be the the one powerful difference between us and hunters?

  4. I finally had to print off a copy of the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife hunting schedule so I can avoid getting shot and/or witnessing the slaughter of innocent beings.

    They had a youth duck, goose, coot, snipe, and pheasant hunting season statewide Sept. 22-23. Nothling like training our youth to be killers and preparing them for our next war(s).

    It looks like is going to ban sport hunting.
    See: Costa Rica Costa Rica poised to ban hunting as sport in Latin America first
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/03/us-costarica-hunting-idUSBRE89205X20121003

    I want to move to Costa Rica.

  5. If anyone wants to hear the conference, I have an 888 number and a new refernce number. You can hear the full conference. 1-888-284-7564 reference number 2935881#

    Do not forget the # sign at the end of the reference number. Pass it on :)

  6. It’s sad that a father is teaching his child to kill for fun, but what is also sad is that Paul Ryan is apparently exploiting his daughter for political gain, to get (or strengthen) the support of his pro-hunting base. “Look at me, fellow hunters, I am so much one of you that I am even teaching my own kids to hunt. So give me your votes!”

    • Maybe it’ll backfire and those who truly care about animals will be put off by him and his pandering…

      • I think if Ryan is doing it for political gain, he’s taking a risk. My personal thought? I think he’s just a very weird person with no compunction about killing…after all, his big dream is to get the “grand slam” (all wild goats in the world…I think there was mention of 7 different ones in various locations) and he was not hesitant to say so. He’s of that ilk. No good. Something very lacking in his psyche.

      • What is lacking is a Soul. He is void of any true empathy. Despite growing up with a Dad and Granddad who hunted. I still managed to hold fast to my love of animals. My Dad hunted because we were very poor growing up. Some winters we lived solely on our canned good from the garden and the ducks he had hunted to feed his young family. He would always tell me what he did he had to do and he did not like it. When things were better, he stopped hunting and sold his gun. He loves his garden most of all :)

  7. Above, Pete mentions CASH – Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting. It was a nudge to visit their site which I haven’t seen in a while. The hunting accident figures are stunning: http://www.all-creatures.org/cash/accident-center.html And yet it continues virtually without change. Unbelievable.
    My local newspaper “sports” section is switching gears from fishing to hunting at this time of year. I noticed the other day they did allude to trespassing on posted land, which was amazing in itself, since the sports writer is so pro-hunt. But along with it, a warning to NEVER confront a hunter in the woods…to call the DEC. I felt like it was an admission that hunters (armed) can be dangerous if you piss them off. Especially when they think no one is looking!

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