Hunters: Say goodbye to your "macabre sport'

  Dear HCN,


Once again I am treated to the inane and meretricious propaganda of an "ethical, wildlife-loving hunter" in Ken Wright's review of David Petersen's book Elkheart (HCN, 9/28/98). Mr. Petersen expounds the same logically absurd argument that tries to justify recreational hunting not as the macabre sport it is, but as a need for meat and for ungulate control. I doubt that Mr. Petersen as a published author is in need of wild meat for his survival. He uses the atavistic, hunter-gatherer palaver to justify his blood lust in the 20th century of ritualized killing. The domestication of animals bred for the purpose of food (or they would not exist otherwise) has eliminated the need for barbaric Neanderthal consumers to hunt wild meat.


Hunting is not ethical just because you eat what you kill. I don't see Mr. Petersen wearing animal hides, tracking down his prey on foot and killing it with a stone knife or spear that he fashioned, nor do I see modern hunters utilizing the entire carcass for their survival needs.


Hunting nowadays is merely some psychological need to recapture the archetype primordial hunt that not only brought in food but revitalized manhood. Mr. Petersen confuses the need to hunt, (his illusion) with the fact that modern hunting is merely a way to flatter the vanity of the male ego. He preaches 18th-century values of survival while comfortably residing in the 21st century, where one can easily overwhelm any wild animal with ultra-high-powered technology. What is ethical or sporting about that?


It is a strange, morally bankrupt ideology that preaches conservation and a deep love of wildlife, while the principal objective is to kill animals in order to provide more animals to kill. Mr. Petersen's "love of wildlife" and his "conservation" ideas would be better served, ethically sound and less contradictory if he would preach appreciation of wildlife, ecosystems, natural history and land ethics instead of covering his hands in blood.


Recreational hunting needs to become as extinct as the passenger pigeon. The coonskin cap mentality was valid once upon a time on the frontier. Trivial wild-meat eating and the illusion of the archaic hunt are as much a dying remnant of our culture as is the wilderness you exploit by harvesting its creatures. True wilderness, recreational hunting and cattle ranching on public lands are being left behind by our high-tech society. Wilderness will be excruciatingly missed, the other two merely footnotes to history.





Stephen Gies


Billings, Montana


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