“You’re the last one there…you feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes and basically, a person in that situation is God! You then possess them and they shall forever be a part of you. And the grounds where you killed them become sacred to you and you will always be drawn back to them.”
The words of a hunter triumphantly reliving his conquest?
Well, if by hunter you mean a person who stalks and kills an innocent, unarmed victim, then yes.
The quote is from serial killer Ted Bundy, as he sat on death row and mused over his murders to the authors of The Only Living Witness. It seems that, whether the perpetrator is engaged in a sport hunt or a serial kill, the mentality is roughly the same.
Try as I might, it’s a mindset I really can’t relate to. But this quote helped answer a question I’ve been pondering since I came across a freshly shed elk antler on a hike in the forest behind my place. It was thrilling to find a tangible sign of such a proud and noble soul, willingly discarded to make way for this year’s even larger adornment. I’ve experienced a similar feeling of exhilaration many times before when capturing images of wildlife with my camera. The key component for me is the knowledge that the animal is still roaming free.
I hung the keepsake over my doorway. It serves as a reminder that the bull elk made it through another season alive. Conversely, when a hunter proudly displays a “rack” of antlers, they are the result of a kill—an animal’s life was taken so they could claim their trophy.
So why can’t hunters be satisfied with finding a naturally shed horn?
Clearly, they are after more than just a souvenir or symbol of a beautiful living creature. There’s something sinister about their motive—something akin to what drives a trophy-taking serial killer.
For the likes of Ted Bundy, a memento such as a pair of panties or a Polaroid photo helps them to recall the heightened state of arousal they felt while slaying their prey. As with the serial killer, the ultimate goal of a hunter is to play God over a helpless victim and to possess not just their image or their antler, but their very being.