What Really Motivates a Hunter?

Whenever an anti asks a hunter why they like to kill animals the answer (unless the hunter is exceptionally evil or unrepentant) is some variation of, “I don’t actually enjoy killing, I do it for the meat”…or, “to control their population”… or some other variation of those validations they think will sound plausible or palatable.

But the truth is not nearly so toothsome—they do it because they get off on taking and possessing another’s life.

You don’t have to lurk in those dark, seedy hunter chat rooms, Facebook pages or message boards to learn how hunters really think or how they view the animals they lust after. One need only pick up a Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife game regulations handout, available at any sporting goods store or rural mini market, and read the following featured article by a WDFW Wildlife Program Assistant Director:

Sportsmanship Evolves through Five Stages of Hunting

by Nate Pamplin

In hunter education, we talk about the five phases that hunters commonly pass through and how our definition of success in the field evolves over time. I think that discussion is valuable, because it provides an important perspective on our approach to the sport.

In the first stage of the five-step progression, most new hunters are primarily focused on bagging their first game animal. My first big game animal was a small ‘forked-horn’ sitka black-tailed buck on Kodiak Island, Alaska–and I couldn’t have been more proud.  

In phase two, the goal shifts to filling bag limits. The definition of a good day for a hunter in this phase would be taking all four forest grouse allowed, not just two.

The third stage is what is called the “trophy phase,” where success is derived by harvesting an animal with a large rack or trophy score. A hunter in this phase may pass immature animals waiting for the opportunity to harvest a trophy for the wall.

A fourth phase is limited-weapon phase, when hunters who have had success with modern firearms put down their rifle to pursue game through traditional implements that present more of a challenge.

Finally, we arrive at the fifth stage–the sportsman phase. Here, hunters find satisfaction in all aspects of hunting, whether sighting-in their rifle with their friends, waiting on a stand for a buck to pass by, or recounting hunting stories with family and friends over a bowl of venison stew.

An important aspect of the sportsman phase—and I’d advocate for every phase—Is sharing the rich tradition of hunting with others.

I ask you to consider your role in promoting the hunting heritage in Washington. Have you introduced hunting to a colleague from work who may have never been hunting before? Have you invited your niece to the shooting range? Do you have time to volunteer with a local hunter-education team? Did you mail a thank-you note to the landowner who afforded you access to their

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

ranch last fall?

Hunters don’t have to move through every stage of the sport before entering the sportsman phase. All of us share a passion for Washington’s hunting heritage, and it’s important we all do our part to keep this tradition alive during the coming season.

….

It’s uncanny how much the statement above mirrors this quote by another trophy taking expert on the subject—the prolific serial killer, Ted Bundy, who told the authors of The Only Living Witness, from his cell on death row:

“At each stage of the process the individual’s feelings would be different. And when he’s 15 it’d be a much more mystical, exciting, experience…than when he’s 50. And when—even within that given hunting expedition—the feeling of sighting the animal would be different than shooting it or showing it to your buddy. Or putting it in the trunk and taking it home and butchering it and having it for dinner…And that’s the way some guys may approach killing their fellow human beings.”

To Breed or Not to Breed

Yesterday I asked the question, “Who is the creeping cancer?” The choice was between the bison—a species nearly hunted off the face of the Earth that is still extinct over practically all its former range—or humans.

The answer is so ridiculously obvious it’s hardly worth asking; while the human species increases by over one million infants a day (1,000 were born just in the past minute), almost every other life form is on its way out of existence.

Thus, when the Seattle Times recently ran a piece by one of their columnists, Sharon Pian Chan, titled “Why I am not having kids,” I felt it was my duty to share the link here.  Chan brings up many good reasons not to breed, but the benefit to the environment was only mentioned once: “…not having a child is the most important thing I could do to reduce my carbon footprint, according to a 2009 study by Oregon State University statisticians. (Of course, like all parents, I believe my theoretical child would have grown up to become a brilliant physicist and saved the world from global warming, so this is a moot point.)”

Possibly…on the other hand it could have grown up to become the next Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Ted Bundy or terrible Ted Nugent.

Chan goes on to point out that by not having kids… “I will have a lot more attention and money to shower on real-life nieces, nephews, mentees and philanthropic causes.” Causes like educating the masses on just how many ways human overpopulation is ruining the planet, perhaps?

Those contemplating childbirth could always benefit from a bit of trivia, such as the fact that though it’s taken all of human history to until around the year 1800 for the world human population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in less than 30 years (1959), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987). During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.

The world population clock estimates that by 2025 the eight-billionth will be born and in 2045 the planet will be expected to feed and provide for nine billion hungry human beings. All the while the world will continue to see its biodiversity vanish.

Paul R. Ehrlich, author of the 1960s bestseller, The Population Bomb, foresaw peril in the ongoing disappearance of all other life forms except ours: “It isn’t a question of people or animals–it’s got to be both of us or we’re finished. We can’t get along without them. They could get along without us.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

The Infertile Union

So you don’t get the idea I go around unfairly picking on small grassroots groups, here’s an excerpt from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, wherein I take on the Goliath of all national green groups for siding with hunting…

Sport hunters have enjoyed so much laudation of late they’re beginning to cast themselves as conservation heroes. What’s worse is that many modern, influential green groups are swallowing that blather, hook, line and sinker. Maybe they ought to reread the words of Sierra Club founder, John Muir:

“Surely a better time must be drawing nigh when godlike human beings will become truly humane, and learn to put their animal fellow mortals in their hearts instead of on their backs or in their dinners. In the meantime we may just as well as not learn to live clean, innocent lives instead of slimy, bloody ones. All hale, red-blooded boys are savage, fond of hunting and fishing. But when thoughtless childhood is past, the best rise the highest above all the bloody flesh and sport business…”

Henry David Thoreau, another nineteenth-century nature-lover whose forward-thinking writings were an inspiration to Muir, cautions, “No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure he does. The hare in its extremity cries like a child. I warn you, mothers, that my sympathies do not make the usual philanthropic distinctions.”

If those dated messages and mockery are lost on twenty-first-century Sierra-clubbers, Edward Abbey’s sentiment should be obvious enough for anyone, “To speak of harvesting other living creatures, whether deer or elk or birds or cottontail rabbits, as if they were no more than a crop, exposes the meanest, cruelest, most narrow and homocentric of possible human attitudes towards the life that surrounds us.”

Early vanguards of ecological ideology recognized Homo sapiens as just one among thousands of animal species on the planet, no more important than any other in the intricate web of life. They also abhorred sport hunting.

But a shocking turn-around is taking place in the current bastardization of the environmental movement. The Sierra Club and other large, corporate green groups are embracing (read: sleeping with) powerful hunting groups like the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association (NRA). In a transparent effort to appear down-home and therefore more in touch with nature, they’re making the fatal mistake of joining frces with sportsmen whose conservation “ethic” exists only so their preferred prey species can be slain again and again.

The infertile union between super-sized modern green groups and mega-bucks hunting clubs must have been sired by their shared conviction that humans are the most crucial cogs in the wheel of life (or at least the squeakiest wheels in the dough machine). As the only animal capable of coughing up cash when the collection plate comes around, human beings (every last gourmandizing, carnivorous one of them) are the primary concern; their wants must be given priority over those of all other species. Contemporary environmental organizations, seduced by a desire to engage as many paying members as they can get their hands on (regardless of their attitudes towards animal life), must believe blood-soaked money is as green underneath as any.

Forever stagnating in “thoughtless childhood,” members of hunting groups like the NRA live for the day they can register a record-breaking trophy with the Boone and Crocket Club—formed by Roosevelt “to promote manly sport with rifles.” Fund for Animals creator, Cleveland Amory, took issue with the sporty statesman in his anti-hunting epic, Man Kind? Our Incredible War on Wildlife. A benevolent humanitarian for humans and nonhumans alike, Mr Amory wrote, “Theodore Roosevelt…cannot be faulted for at least some efforts in the field of conservation. But here the praise must end. When it came to killing animals, he was close to psychopathic. Dangerously close indeed (think: Ted Bundy). In his two-volume African Game Trails, Roosevelt lovingly muses over shooting elephants, hippos, buffaloes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hartebeest, impalas, pigs, the not-so-formidable 30-pound steenbok and even (in what must have seemed the pinnacle of manly sport with rifles) a mother ostrich on her nest.

But don’t let on to a hunter your informed opinion of their esteemed idol, because, as Mr Amory points out, “…the least implication anywhere that hunters are not the worthiest souls since the apostles drives them into virtual paroxysms of self-pity.” Amory goes on to say:

The hunter, seeing there would soon be nothing left to kill, seized upon the new-fangled idea of “conservation” with a vengeance. Soon they had such a stranglehold [think: Ted Nugent] on so much of the movement that the word itself was turned from the idea of protecting and saving the animals to the idea of raising and using them—for killing. The idea of wildlife “management”—for man, of course—was born. Animals were to be “harvested.” They were to be a “crop”—like corn.

Fortunately, a faithful few are seeing through the murky sludge spread where green fields once thrived. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Captain Paul Watson (founder and president of about the only group still using the word conservation to mean protecting and saving animals) recently took another in a lifetime of steadfast stands by resigning from his position on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. He refused to be a part of their whorish sleeping with the enemy—their pandering to sportsmen by holding a “Why I Hunt” essay contest, complete with a grand prize trophy hunt to Alaska. To think of how many trees were needlessly reduced to pulp for this profane effort when the answer to why hunters hunt was so succinctly summed up in just one sentence by Paul Watson, “Behind all the chit-chat of conservation and tradition is the plain simple fact that trophy hunters like to kill living things.”

Just as the naïve young girl who falls for the charms and promises of a sunny sociopath learns, the hard way, about his hidden penchant for abuse and violence, the Sierra Club and other middle-ground eco-friendly groups may soon learn the dangers of looking for Mr. Goodbar in all the wrong places. How will they divorce themselves from this unholy alliance when the affair goes sour and sportsmen reveal their malicious, hidden agenda by calling for another contest hunt on coyotes or cull on cougars, wolves or grizzly bears to do away with the competition for “their” deer, elk, moose or caribou?

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Repugs From the Pit of Hell

I voted today; filled in my absentee ballot, that is. I wasn’t real keen on any particular candidate, just wanted to get it over with so I don’t have to think about politics for a while.

I’m a private person, and I respect other people’s right to their privacy. I don’t expect anyone to publicly declare how they voted if they don’t want to. I will tell you, though, no Republicans (or Repugs) got my vote.

Sure, there have been a few good Republican leaders in the past. Abe Lincoln comes to mind. And I thought Washington State’s1970’s-era GOP governor, Dan Evans, was a decent man—until I learned he was so tight with Ted Bundy that he vouched for the notorious serial killer’s character in a written testimony to a Florida court of law when Bundy was on trial for the brutal murders of numerous young women, including a 12 year-old girl.

It’s common knowledge that Ted Bundy was a staunch Republican. He campaigned for a number of prominent GOP candidates and likely would have fancied himself as a future contender for that party, had reckless behavior not gotten him arrested and prosecuted for his extracurricular activities.

Another active Republican serial killer of note, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, can’t seem to keep his mouth shut on the campaign trail about his murderous urges, as well as his intent to train his 10 year-old daughter to become a conscienceless killer like her daddy…or Ted Bundy.

The reasons the Republicans didn’t get my vote are many—they all have to do with threats facing the diversity of life on Earth. (Sorry, but concerns about the economy do not trump the continued habitability of the planet.) Now, if you don’t believe the scientific evidence for global warming, by all means vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket—they’re the anti-science candidates—as long as the things those two do believe in don’t put you off. Freedom of (or from) religion is one thing, but anthropocentric ignorance at the expense of the environment is not a God-given right.

There’s a new breed of Republican stalking the streets of D.C. these days, and they take their religion dead seriously. Ask Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA). He called evolution and the Big Bang Theory, “lies from the pit of Hell” at a “sportsman’s” banquet at the Liberty Baptist Church (be sure to check out the heads on the wall behind him here).

While just yesterday, Indiana Republican Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, said he believes pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen.” Clearly, to Mourdock, every sperm is sacred, even if it came from a violent rapist (never mind that procreation was the furthest thing on the perpetrators mind.)

For his part, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan worked shoulder to shoulder with Missouri republican congressman Todd Aiken to try to redefine rape as either “legitimate” or some other unfortunate scenario that these two guys don’t think should warrant a woman’s right to choose whether or not to bring forth another human life into this overcrowded world. In other words, if a woman became pregnant as the result of some loveless, devious act of seduction that was slightly less violent than their idea of “legitimate” rape, she would be forced to spend the next nine months carrying around an unwanted child (Like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, pregnant with the Devil’s spawn).

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney plans, if he becomes president, to cut funding for birth control to developing nations. None of these Republicans seem to be aware of the staggering human overpopulation problem threatening the future of all life on this planet.

And I’m sure if you told them our species was solely responsible for causing an ongoing mass-extinction on a scale not seen since the K-T extinction event that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 and a half million years ago, they’d really look befuddled. After all, wasn’t the Earth created by God for Man only 10 thousand years ago? And if Man overcrowds the Earth and destroys the atmosphere, isn’t it just “something that God intended to happen?”

 

Ryan: Boy Scout or Dangerous Psychopath?

Today the Huffington Post covered Paul Ryan’s mixed record on the outdoors. Of course right-leaning bowhunters were thrilled about their candidate’s choice for a running mate (yes, the majority of hunters are red-state Republicans, but they do come in all political stripes.) It’s no surprise that the NRA gave him an ‘A’ rating. Hailed as “the last Boy Scout” by none other than Rush Limbaugh, Ryan must have earned his merit badges in cruelty to animals, pandering to weapons manufacturers and “virtuous” selfishness (one of the only two bills Ryan has ever ushered into law during his congressional career was a cap on excise tax on bowhunting equipment).

Sure, presidential candidates pandering to gun lobbies or seeking to secure the sportsmen’s vote is nothing new.  From the likes of Teddy Roosevelt with his head-hunting safaris here and in Africa, to John Kerry with his backfiring cammo-clad goose-hunt-media-stunt, to Dick Cheney blindly blasting at birds (spraying lead at anything or anyone that moves),  politicians have shamelessly courted the hunter vote while helping to promote the wise-use twaddle that “hunters are the best environmentalists.” For
his part, the great “varmint” hunter, George W. Bush, penned executive order 13443 on August 17, 2007, encouraging more hunting in parks and on national wildlife refuges.

Cleveland Amory, founder of The Fund for Animals, had this to say about President Roosevelt in his anti-hunting epic, Man Kind? Our Incredible War on Wildlife: “Theodore Roosevelt…could not be faulted for at least some efforts in the field of conservation. But here the praise must end. When it came to killing animals, he was close to psychopathic.” Dangerously close indeed (think: Ted Bundy). But don’t let on to a hunter what you think of their esteemed idol, because, as Mr. Amory put it, “…the least implication anywhere that hunters are not the worthiest souls since the apostles drives them into virtual paroxysms of self-pity.”

Amory goes on to write, “…the hunter, seeing there would soon be nothing left to kill, seized upon the new-fangled idea of ‘conservation’ with a vengeance. Soon they had such a stranglehold [think: Ted Nugent] on so much of the movement that the word itself was turned from the idea of protecting and saving the animals to the idea of raising and using them–for killing. The idea of wildlife ‘management’–for man, of course–was born.”

Though Roosevelt probably killed more trophy “game” animals than all our other presidents combined, in terms of a potential policy maker who could spell doom for wildlife and wilderness for generations to come, Ryan is even more dangerous. His budget plan calls for selling off public lands to private individuals, essentially turning the last of the wild places into high-end private game reserves for trophy hunting. Some of his ideas make the so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act,” which would open our national parks and refuges to hunting (a bill Ryan enthusiastically supported) seem almost tame.

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Portions of this post were excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

Where Your Sympathies Lie

Some people are animal people and some are people people, while others claim to love everyone equally. The fact is, whether consciously or not, at some point we all have to make a choice as to where our sympathies really lie.

It seems that all but the most saintly of us has a limited quantity of compassion. If it’s too focused, a lot of individuals can get left out, but spread too thin it’s not much good to anyone.

Animal advocates are often some of the most caring people around, yet  at times it appears as if they don’t have a whole lot of compassion for the people who abuse animals. Though nearly Christ-like in many ways, most animal rights supporters actually have a limited empathy allotment, so they tend to save theirs for the victims—not the perpetrators—of cruelty.

Although biologically there’s no real difference between us all (except that new studies have shown hunters suffer from DMGD, that emotionally crippling Diminutive Male Genitalia Disorder), the simple fact is that people are different from one another in the amount of empathy, guilt or remorse they are capable of experiencing.

When animal rights advocates look at their own culpabilities, they take responsibility and work to change their actions. This is something you cannot expect from willful animal exploiters. Those who knowingly mistreat can’t be made to feel shame for anything; they’ve built up a wall of rationalization eight feet thick. Nothing gets in. They can’t or won’t be changed, though they may profess a profound transformation to their parole board.

Such was surely the case with Ted Bundy, before he ultimately confessed to the brutal murders of thirty young women (many of whom he decapitated and—like a typical sport hunter—kept their heads as trophies to help him relive the kills).

When the day of Ted Bundy’s execution finally came, people in Florida were weighing in on all sides of the issue. On one extreme were folks chanting and carrying signs like, “Thank God it’s FRY-day,” “Bye-Bye Bundy, and more power to you” and “Hey Ted, don’t forget to file an appeal in Hell” expressing their displeasure with the serial killer’s horrendous acts. At the other end of the spectrum was a virtual fan club of Ted Bundy devotees and groupies, one of whom had married him surreptitiously during his sentencing hearing.

Most people’s reactions were somewhere in between the two, depending on their sympathies. As always, mine are with the victims.

Wildlife photography Copyright Jim Robertson