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
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.”