Hot Dogs Are Gross and Baseball is a Waste of Time

For the past few posts it seems I’ve set out to slay the sacred cows (so to speak) of American culture (and/or counter-culture). First I challenged the cow-haters—those radical anarchists who seek to extract revenge for environmental abuses by attacking the most nonthreatening (and least intentionally culpable) of all the culprits—the cows themselves. Next, I set out to re-revise revisionist history by reminding readers that all people are relative newcomers to this hemisphere and, by their very membership in the human race, destructive by nature.

Now, just to show I’m not in this for any kind of popularity or personal gain, I’m going to end this trilogy by going after two established pillars of standard American society: hot dogs and professional sports. When I say “hot dogs,” I mean the “all-meat” kind, as opposed to the “fake” ones made out of soy or seitan or some other benign, cruelty-free, plant source. “Real” hot dogs were actually an ingenious Yankee invention in response to the question, “What should we do with all the disgusting guts, eyeballs and offal on the slaughterhouse floor” (the proverbial “beaks and peckers,” according to the kid on Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade)? “I know—let’s package it, give it a fun name and market it as food!”

And finally, we come to the most consecrated of American cows: professional spectator sports. Now, I’m all for people getting out and challenging themselves by hiking, skiing, weight training or the like, but sitting around jeering, cussing or cheering at a bunch of overpaid athletes while choking down hot dogs (“real” ones, not those candy-ass, heart-healthy soy dogs) always seemed like a waste of time to me. My question is, why do we need an entire section of every newspaper or ten minutes of the nightly newscast devoted to how the “local” teams did on their rigged little games? I mean really, how are the Seattle Seahawks considered local to fans in, say, Whitefish, Montana, Pocatello, Idaho or Dillingham, Alaska?

If it’s all just for a friendly wager, that’s fine. But otherwise, I just don’t get it.

slingblade

Human Infestation Down One

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/body-of-australian-man-recovered-from-crocodile-infested-river/article13948311/

Body of Australian man recovered from crocodile-infested river

DARWIN, Australia — The Associated Press

Published Monday, Aug. 26

Police have recovered the body of a man who attempted to swim across a crocodile-infested river in the Australian Outback as well as the carcass of a crocodile that was shot by authorities, officials said Monday.

Sean Cole, 26, was snatched by a crocodile and dragged under the water Saturday as he and a friend were swimming in the Mary River during a birthday party.

[How dare they call this river "crocodile-infested"! Crocs have lived there for 50 million years; humans didn't reach Australia and begin their infestation until 50 thousand years ago.]

Northern Territory wildlife ranger Tom Nichols said Cole’s body and that of a 4.7-metre-long crocodile floated to the river surface early Monday. The crocodile was one of four that rangers shot in the hours after the attack.

“We believe that croc was responsible,” Nichols said, though he noted that further tests to match the bite marks on Cole’s body would be conducted.

[How many non-humans have to die when one exalted Homo sapien foolishly decides to challenge a dangerous river, probably in a drunken bet. And what if the bite-marks don't match? Will rangers kill 400 more ancient crocodiles before they find the culprit?]

The river is infested with crocodiles, and officials said that ascroc locals the men would have known that.

“They just did something silly,” Nichols said.

Crocodile expert Grahame Webb, a Darwin zoologist, said he would not give a swimmer an even chance of crossing the 80-metre-wide river.

“Someone swimming in an area with crocs like that … crocs are going to zero in on them almost every time,” Webb said.

Mary River Wilderness Retreat manager Erin Bayard said the resort has several signs prohibiting swimming. Guests are advised not to go within five metres of the water’s edge because of the risk of large crocodiles lunging from the river to drag people in.

[Typical--a human dies doing something silly and at least three innocent crocodiles are killed for it.]

Oklahoma Doesn’t Need Wildlife “Services” to Kill Thousands of Geese…

…, they just encourage sport hunters to do it.

Oklahoma Saturday hunting news:

The Okla. Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the season dates for the next water-fowl season.The most significant change from last season is the increase in the daily limits for geese.

The daily limit for Canadian geese has increased from three to eight.

The daily limit for light geese has increased from 20 to 50. [50? Did they say FIFTY!!]

A migratory game bird biologist for the Okla. Dept. of Wildlife Conservation
hopes the increased bag limits will lure more people back to hunting geese.

He states “Hopefully, having eight birds (as the daily limit for Canadian geese) will get some folks back into the sport.”

Geese continue to cause nuisance problems in the state. He adds “We are trying to increase the harvest.”

For duck hunters, the daily limit during the Sept. teal season has increased from four to six birds. The limit of scaups during the duck seasons has been reduced from six to three birds daily. The daily limit for canvasbacks has increased from one to two.

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Shotgun Wedding

As all good Sunday sermons should be, this one is about love.

Specifically, the misuse, abuse or perversion of the word “love,” as in “I love guns,” “I love hunting,” or when a hunter says, “I love wildlife.” In other words, any “love” that takes place over the barrel of a gun. I’m talking about the kind of “love” that would be better described as obsession, covetousness or, simply, the egomaniacal urge to possess.

Interestingly, some people (such as psychopaths) who are incapable of actually feeling benevolence towards others, act as if they know the meaning of the elusive “L” word. The terms “trophy wife” and “trophy house” are becoming increasingly popular, but if you care about someone or something just because you own them, it’s not the same as caring about them for who or what they are.

Hunters often claim to care about wildlife—to cherish the animals that they want to kill—but they’re confusing actual human emotions with an avaricious urge to manipulate, dominate and control (the three underlying behaviors of a serial killer, according to former FBI profiler John Douglas).

Hunting is not an act of love, it’s a hate crime. Killing animals for sport is nothing short of abuse. As studies have clearly shown, animal cruelty often leads to domestic abuse and other crimes along the violence continuum.

The serial killing of wildlife is certainly not a healthy expression of love.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

 

For the Bragging Rights

Autumn in elk country would not be complete without the stirring sound of solicitous bulls bugling-in the season of brightly colored leaves, shorter days and cooler nights. Nothing, save for the clamor of great flocks of Canada geese, trumpeter swans or sandhill cranes announcing their southward migration, is more symbolic of the time of year. And just as any pond or river along their flyway devoid of the distinctive din of wandering waterfowl seems exceedingly still and empty, any forest or field bereft of the bugling of bull elk feels sadly deserted and lifeless.

Yet there are broad expanses of the continent, once familiar with these essential sounds of autumn, where now only the blare of gunfire resounds. By the end of the nineteenth century, the great wave of humanity blowing westward with the force of a category five hurricane—leveling nearly everything in its destructive path—had cut down the vast elk herds, leaving only remnants of their population in its wake.

Nowadays, a different kind of rite rings-in the coming of autumn across much of the land. Following in the ignoble footsteps of their predecessors who hunted to extinction two subspecies, the Mirriam’s and the Eastern elk, nimrods by the thousands run rampant on the woodlands and inundate the countryside, hoping to relive the gory glory days of the 1800s.

On the way back from a trip early last evening I saw one such nimrod as I turned at the local mini-market on the final stretch home. I have no doubt in my mind that he was parked there just to show off his kill; the antlers of a once proud, now degraded and deceased bull elk were intentionally draped over the tailgate of the assassin’s truck—clearly on display.

I can’t say that I see just what the hunter was so proud of. It’s not like he personally brought down the mighty animal with his bare hands. Elk follow a pretty predictable path this time of year, and the bulls are distracted and preoccupied with escorting their harems around. Taking advantage of them during their mating season is about as loathsome as anything a human can come up with (and that’s saying a lot).

All a deceitful sportsman has to do is blow an imitation elk bugle to lure a competitive bull within range of their tree stand or wait in hiding above the herd’s traditional trail to the evening feeding grounds. When the procession passes by (right below the camouflaged killer’s perch), the most challenging thing for the sniper is deciding which individual animal to shoot or impale with an arrow.

The fact that they let groups of cows and young spike bulls pass by and wait for the largest, “trophy” bull is proof positive that they’re not hunting for food, but rather for sport—and for bragging rights.

____________________________

The first portion of this post was excerpted from the chapter, “The Fall of Autumn’s Envoy,” in the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

In the Name of Sport

It’s Monday morning, August 20th, and although autumn—the traditional season for hunting—is over a month away, I’m already hearing the echo of gunfire emanating from the hills around my place. If I weren’t so damned informed, I’d be thinking, “What the hell is someone shooting at this time of year?” But unfortunately I know all too well…

Judging by the intensity of the rifle report, it is not the sound of a kid with a .22 blasting at bottles or pigeons this time. Considering that the noise originated in an area where black bears and blackberries are numerous, there’s no doubt in my mind that the shooter is a bear hunter. The wild berries are just now ripening and, since bear hunting season begins on August 1st here in Washington, the loathsome scum who enjoy making sport of animal murder are out trying to end the life of a humble being whose only focus these days is filling up on fresh fruit.

Adding to my frustration, there’s no way I can hike up there and check out the situation. My right foot has been out of commission for about a week now, ever since a log rolled onto it while I was cutting firewood. Every time I try to walk on it, the pain and swelling gets worse so I’m stuck having to sit with my foot elevated, wondering whether one of my neighborhood bears has been shot to death or is now suffering from a painful gunshot wound.

Misfortune and misery are already all too common. The last thing this world needs is for a few selfish people to thoughtlessly cause suffering in the name of sport.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

 

If I Were a Hunter

I’m proud to say I’m not a former hunter. I never had to kill an elk or a bear or a swan or a goose to know how bad I would feel about it afterwards. My “problem” might be too much empathy; I could readily imagine the sense of self-loathing that should come with destroying such beautiful and noble beings.

When in my youth I had to put down a wounded buck deer I’d hit with my truck, I found myself apologizing to him even as I made the cut that put would him out of his misery. I knew I’d never want to go through that in the name of sport.

The only time I hunted for food was during a brief live-like-an-Indian phase. I had enrolled in an “Aboriginal Life Skills” course— the same one that the author of “Clan of the Cave Bear” later took to learn how Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man may have lived. I carved a bow out of a young juniper tree and with this mighty weapon, I shot a harmless chipmunk. The arrow didn’t kill the poor soul outright, but knocked him to the ground, wounded and trembling.

As I dealt the creature it’s death blow with a club, I felt no ancient, sacred pact with nature; no mystic bond with the great chipmonk spirit; no connection with the circle of life. I felt only an overpowering urge to end the suffering I had caused this individual.

One of this blog’s regular readers posted the following quote to the comments section of “Honor Thy Father and Mother, Except When They Misbehave.” I don’t know who made this statement, but I can relate to it. If I were a hunter, this is just the kind of conclusion I could see myself coming to:

 

“I hunted for 30 years. For various reasons, mostly because my father did, and my grandfather did. Yes, we ate what we killed, but I never felt I was hunting TO eat, after all, I had food whether I killed anything or not.

I never felt I was hunting for “wildlife management”. I never picked up my rifle and said “Well, I am off to do my duty for wildlife management by killing an animal”.

I never did hunt for “trophies”. Whatever one describes that as.

I didn’t even consider my “milenias old roots”, though I occasionally did use one of my grandfather’s rifles, now 100 years old.

I guess I hunted just because I did. At first, killing was thrilling, then anti-climactic, then distasteful. Then you begin to wonder why you are doing it.

After pursuing elk for 7 years in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, I got an easy shot at a 6 point bull and passed. If he could elude me for that long, what business did I have to kill him and hang his head where people who had never experienced his world could look at him…..not in his magnificence, but in an artificially posed mount, supported by premolded styrofoam. Would I have gained anything from the experience? Who would gain? Who would be better off had I ended the animal’s life?

I began to look at hunting differently. It certainly isn’t needed by anyone or anything…….most animals are not hunted at all, and do just fine. Hunters continually harp on deer overpopulation…..but deer make up less than 2% of what they kill. And there are now alternatives to hunting deer.

In November 1989, I was shot by a deer hunter, while on my own property. The irresponsible hunter left me for dead, and my twelve year old son loaded me in a truck and drove me 40 miles to a hospital. That didn’t dampen my enthusiasm, though, and is not the reason I quit, but it did give me a solid taste of what the animals endure.

I guess I just started to understand that the animal I was looking at through a scope was not just a target, but a living thing. A thing that suffered when shot, a thing that I had no right to kill, though I had the privilege to do so, by virtue of paying another person a fee for a license. Think about that. The animal is minding his own business when you go into a store, pay a fee and walk out with a license to kill the animal, what a deal.

I shot the last animal that will ever fall to my gun in November 1992. I hunted until January, 1997.

In five years, I discovered I could love the outdoors, and it’s experiences, which I still dearly enjoy, without killing. The guns stay at home when I take to the field now, though I keep the rust off them by frequent trips to the range to break clay targets or make little groups of holes in paper, and I have turned more to shooting competition for satisfaction and achievement.

Is hunting worse than factory farms? No. Does that make hunting right? No.

Am I responsible for the death of animals, even though I am a vegetarian, don’t use leather or fur? Sure. One only need observe the bugs on my truck grill to see that. But I have decided to minimize my impact on animals and work to help them, rather than kill them.

I have a lot of making up to do.”

Living off the Land: another Excuse for Sport Hunting

Hunters often claim, “I’m not a sport hunter; I eat what I shoot,” as though the end (the act of consuming a carcass) justifies the means (the unnecessary killing of a wild animal).These people choose to live in areas where “game” is abundant, often because local wildlife agency policies have eliminated natural predators or favored one species of grazer over another. As ruralites, they pretend they are “living off the land,” practicing a pseudo-subsistence lifestyle. Whenever a person has all the modern conveniences at their disposal—a truck with GPS, a cell phone, a four-wheeler, a cooler full of beer and groceries and a warm house or shack to go home to—they aren’t really hunting to keep from starving, they are in fact just sport hunters in disguise. I should know, I was nearly sucked down that slippery slope once myself.

Years ago, I went through a brief live-like-an-Indian phase and enrolled in an “Aboriginal Life Skills” course— the same one that the author of “Clan of the Cave Bear” later took to learn how Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man may have lived. For me, it was not so much an anthropological study but more of a wilderness survival course.  Our final assignment:  a ten-day back-country excursion armed only with a blanket, a knife and an ample supply of biscuit roots and wild onions gathered prior to the expedition. Although our tribe of modern-day abos had plenty of the nutritious tubers to go around, much of our time was spent out hunting for animals to roast in the fire pit.

I carved a bow out of a young juniper tree and the class instructor lent me one of his blunt-tipped arrows. With this mighty weapon, I shot a harmless chipmunk. The arrow didn’t kill the poor soul outright, but knocked him to the ground, wounded and trembling. I had to finish him off with a club like some brutal character from a cave-man story. I was praised by the folks back in camp, but felt anything but pride for my feat.  The tiny morsel of chipmunk flesh was cooked in a rock oven, along with a porcupine the teacher’s assistant clubbed to death that same day.

We were taught how to tan animal skins using deer brains, fashion knives and arrowheads out of obsidian and build crude wooden shelters; but the main lesson I learned from the course was that we didn’t need to be slaying animals in order to survive. We were acting like a bunch of sport hunters out playing games at the expense of the resident wildlife.

The thing that brought that message home with clarity was when some of our group started baiting deadfall traps for the mink we occasionally saw along the banks of the river we fished. Mink meat is practically inedible, but their fur is quite a prize for those wanting a treasure to show off to others. Trapping the mink was not aiding our existence; it was another form of recreational carnage.

Ultimately, what I gleaned from the experience was something almost too taboo to suggest: I realized that even primitive societies must have had times when their relatively austere hunting practices provided them with far more resources than they ever needed for basic subsistence. They were no longer killing simply for survival; at some point humans started doing it with a motivation nearer to that of a sport or trophy hunter. (Only later did I discover that prehistoric man used fire to drive animals off cliffs, resulting in the annihilation of whole herds or the extinction of entire species.)

 Modern people who claim to want to “participate in nature,” but depend on technology at every turn to spare them any physical discomfort, are actually just sport hunters at heart. A bear lives off the land, chipmunks (except for the regulars at my bird feeder) live off the land, moose live off the land, but today’s hunters live off grocery stores and burger joints—sporadically supplementing their hoard with the spoils of their latest sport-disguised-as-subsistence hunt.