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Know the West

Thoreau outgrew meat

  Dear HCN,

In "Unarmed but dangerous critics close in on hunting" (HCN, 12/11/95), a Sports Afield columnist quotes Henry David Thoreau in support of hunting. To finish the conveniently incomplete quote, "This was my answer with respect to those youths who were bent on this pursuit, trusting that they would soon outgrow it. No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature." In Walden one also finds, "During the last years that I carried a gun my excuse was that I was studying ornithology, and sought only new or rare birds. But I confess that I am now inclined to think that there is a finer way of studying ornithology than this' and "I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals."

Thoreau, in effect, "grew up." I wish others would follow his example and do the same.

Chris Middings

Burlington, Vermont