The “Euphoria” of Killing?

When a friend sent me a link to an article about a popular new pro-hunting book that came out within a week of the release of my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, I knew I’d have to think of a way to respond. As it turns out, the author of The Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, a young woman from New York City (who decides to emulate Sarah Palin and take up hunting), has made that an easy task.

She came right out and spilled the beans about her feelings (or lack thereof) when she opened fire on a pheasant (one of Dick Cheney’s favorite targets) and made her first kill:

“It felt incredible. It really felt pure. Like euphoria to me. It was just this amazing rush of excitement and pride and relief, and I know this word gets overused a lot, but it was empowering. I didn’t believe I had it in me to do that. It shocked me.”

There’s nothing like getting in touch with your inner psychopath, I guess.

In the article, the author of “The Mild” relates that she was also surprised that she didn’t feel much guilt afterwards. Though rarer than their male counterparts, female psychopaths share the same trademark characteristics: a lack of empathy, remorse or guilt.

It’s curious that she chose a pheasant as the first victim of her quest to live off the spoils of nature, since pheasants are non-native, farm-raised birds who are often kept in captivity like chickens or turkeys before being released into fields frequented by hunters.

I saw this unnatural process for myself back in my early college days. At the time I’d enrolled in a wildlife “management” course, during my brief flirtation with the notion that a true animal lover could find happiness working for the “Game” Department.

Thinking it might help me get ahead in the field, I stopped in to volunteer at a local wildlife “recreation” area. The “game” manager that ran the place was busy herding pheasants from a pen area into a cage. Though only a about foot wide, a foot high and six feet long, the cage was intended to contain a dozen of the big birds. To my delight, one of them got away before he could close the cage door. But the pheasant’s freedom was short-lived—within a minute a shotgun blast rang out and one of the bird hunters “recreating” there soon walked by carrying the carcass of the half-tame “game” bird. I decided on the spot not to pursue the field of “wildlife management” any further.

Presumably the purpose of The Call of the Mild is to inspire more people to take up arms against the wildlife. Let’s hope it’s not successful. However, it does give me an idea for tomorrow’s blog post: “The Day Seven Billion People Decided to Hunt Their Own Dinner.”


14 thoughts on “The “Euphoria” of Killing?

  1. Good post, Jim.

    I can understand the euphoria of hitting a target. Shooting trap or skeet is a lot of fun and one gets that feeling when the clay “pigeon” explodes with a good hit. Video games are similar, I guess.

    But then one has to walk up to the bird and watch the life force drain from his body. This should be where the empathy kicks in and one feels remorse, knowing that it was far from necessary.

    So the author’s lack of any feelings along the line of guilt, is disconcerting.

  2. This is the same woman who wrote the article about why it’s more ethical to kill your own dinner vs. buy it shrinkwrapped at the supermarket. I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that a concern for being ethical in her choice to hunt is far down on her list of reasons for hunting.

    • Plenty of peoeple have objected to the violence in video games on the grounds that they make people more apt to be violent to one another. So why allow and encourage senseless violence to animals through hunting?

  3. One can also get satisfaction out of getting that perfect photograph. Much harder, too. You have to get closer (unless you have a thousand dollar long lens and a sturdy tripod), have a clear view, have enough light, have the subject posed right, and many other variables. And it doesn’t involve real or virtual violence.

    “There’s nothing like getting in touch with your inner psychopath…” Great line, Jim!

  4. I live in a major(ish) city in scotland sandwiched amongst a main road, beach, university, river and green technology park. There are families of deer here that on occasion have come right up to our fence. Nicest of all is knowing that where we are nobody is going to shoot them. As for getting close enough to them to get a worthwhile shot with my little canon compact digital camera, probably ain’t going to happen.

    • It’s great to be able to see deer and other animals when they don’t have to fear being shot at. They are a lot friendlier and more approachable, though I don’t really advocate anyone pursuing them with a camera hoping for a trophy “shot.” As I mention in the final chapter (“A Few Words on Ethical Wildlife Photography”)of my book, pursuit for any purpose can disturb them.

  5. Thank you! It seems so clear to me that finding enjoyment in hunting is a psychopathic character trait, but it is so rare to find anybody else who can understand that.

  6. Pingback: Honor Thy Father and Mother—Especially When They’re Right | Exposing the Big Game

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