Hunting culture

This is a subject that I’ve wanted to touch upon for awhile. First, I’d like to make something abundantly clear: I am not against eating meat and I am not against killing animals in order to eat them. That’s the way nature intended it. Animals wouldn’t hesitate to eat us. But I think that there’s a definite and distinct difference between hunting culture and hunting in its purest form.

Look, if you hunt to put food on the table, great. I wouldn’t blame you nowadays with all the crap that they pump into a lot of livestock raised for the purpose of consumption. And I especially wouldn’t blame you if you lived in northern Canada about 100 miles from the nearest grocery store, and hunting is your only way of surviving during the winter.

But if you’re a weekend suburban hunter who has a lifted truck and wears camouflage to restaurants and banks, I’ve got an issue. People who belong to this group are usually representative of what I call “hunting culture.” To them, hunting isn’t a way to provide a family with food. It’s a weekend excursion simply to kill things. It’s a competition to see who can kill the biggest and most, who has the most antlers on the walls. Assholes in this category usually have bumper stickers like this plastered all over their pickup:

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This kind of hypermasculine drivel is typical of this group of people. These are the kind of people who usually argue that hunting is a sport. It’s not a sport. There’s nothing competitive about it. Unless you’re giving the deer guns, I’d say there’s absolutely nothing noble or sporting about sitting up in a tree and shooting a creature that has no idea you’re there from 200 yards. The ultimate problem with this attitude is that it equates being a man with killing something.

I know that animals aren’t people and nature is nature, but you shouldn’t ever take joy or pride in killing something, even if it’s a bird or a deer. It’s a necessary action to kill to eat, but it feels a little perverse to derive joy or satisfaction from killing something else. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

I know that there are a lot of hunters who take great effort to make sure that the animals they kill aren’t wasted and only take the life of an animal to eat. There’s a respect for nature and gratitude behind it all. However, I also know that there are people who just like to get drunk and kill things, or for whom the murdering of another creature is some sort of rite of passage to manhood. Which is absolutely ridiculous.

The whole thing seems a little stalker-ish to me, and definitely more than a little off. It seems like all I’ve ever heard when it comes to animals and human psychology is that people who torture animals as children usually grow up to be sociopaths. Or maybe they just grow up to be voyeuristic sociopaths in duck blinds with shotguns, deriving some weird satisfaction from killing from far.

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12 thoughts on “Hunting culture

  1. I cannot believe you would take the worst people of hunting, the minority of a-holes within our group, but yet barely talk about the 95% of the rest of the “culture.” I don’t like mean people, bullies or jerks, either. However, when you completely leave out the rest of the good people it uh….kind of offends people. I am not for trophy hunting either but that is a minority of hunters out there. A minority. I really wish people would stop buying meat at the store as often and instead went out with a group of hunters to actually get the meat. To realize what it’s all about instead of having the main thought of hunters as a “bunch of rednecks” or something ridiculous. Instead, why not focus on the actual majority of hunters instead of the minority. To give you perspective, it would be like thinking that a large group of people are bad (or you’re biased against them) because a small minority in their group are bad.

    1. I thought I did a pretty good job delineating between the people who hunt out of respect and necessity and the people who do so only out a desire to kill. If I could have done a better job in making that distinction, I apologize.

      However, minority or not, these people are giving everyone else a bad name. I’m not seeking to project the faults of a minority of hunters onto everyone else. I would go so far as to say that for people who legitimately hunt for food and do so out of respect there isn’t even a “culture;” it’s simply a way to obtain food. And that’s why the minority perturbs me so much–because you’re exactly right, that’s not what hunting is about.

    2. He says at least once in the post that he doesn’t mean all hunters, just the over-enthusiastic ones. Hell, I’m doing a post Friday on pot culture, in which I’ll make precisely the same distinction: I hate the people who go overboard with it. We all know that these over-enthusiasts are the vocal minority to the quiet majority, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bitch about them. Especially when we make sure to note that we’re talking about a vocal minority, not the silent majority.

      1. Especially since I feel that it’s this minority that gets all the representation in society. When people who don’t hunt think of a hunter, there’s a very stereotypical image that comes to mind thanks to the vocal and boisterous minority. Which does an obvious injustice to the majority.

  2. Well, that is exactly what I am talking about. You felt compelled enough to write about people that all hunters cannot stand. The egotistical redneck that kills for fun? Yeah, everyone hates those people. Instead, your original blog post seems directed more towards hunting in general vs focusing on a mintority…although you did mention that
    “I know that there are a lot of hunters who take great effort to make sure that the animals they kill aren’t wasted and only take the life of an animal to eat”…..
    I do understand where you’re coming from and it seems that you’ve addressed this issue within the comments. For that, I thank you. I will say, however, that you’re correct in that this very tiny…tiny….minority does ruin it for people like me, my family, friends, etc.
    The same can be applied to….well, every single topic out there. Like minorities and crime? There are always those stereotypical jokes that make fun of minorities and crime rates. There is a nugget of truth to it, yes, but taken out of context from the minorities’ situation. That is something that is over-represented, right? White-collar crime (pun not intended), although perpetuated by Caucasian-Americans is under-represented. In a lot of cases, it goes unnoticed by the public. But we don’t hate upon all white-collar jobs, do we?
    Well, some do and that’s the point.
    Because of a select few inbred, beer-guzzling fools, everyone gets a bad name.
    You’re certainly correct with that.
    The same can be applied to motorcycles. It seems like people in Oregon are jerks to motorcycles….half the time it is on purpose. My opinion is that there’s too many jerk-off motorcyclists that give the rest of us a bad name……
    Out of respect towards the ideals of hunting, beware of setting up strawman arguments by focusing on the minority (aka douchebag, redneck, jerk, drunkard, hillbilly, etc.).

    Even though this happens with hunting, fishing and any topic, it drives me crazy to know these people exist.

    All of the good ones don’t make the news. 🙂

    1. Fair enough. Perhaps I should have been more forceful indicating that I’m not anti-hunting.

      Is it really that bad for motorcyclists in Oregon? I had no clue! Of course, I’m not really into motorcycles, but I’d think Oregon would be pretty tolerant of that kind of thing considering how koo-koo we go for bikes around here.

  3. Yeah, man. Half the time, people tailgate far worse than a car.
    But, like your point in your comments, a few bad apples make people biased against motorcyclists. Haha. Like were a bunch of Marlon Brando’s all riding in gangs, smoking cigarettes and causing a ruckus at the local diner, I’ll tell you!! Hahaha.
    I video tape when I ride with a GoPro and you’d be surprised of the idiots….

  4. Ryan, you just described 99% of the redneck, beer swizzling, elevated 4×4 driving, camo wearing (out of season even) snaggle toothed, jebus loving, knuckle dragging type hunters in this area. You should have stopped by while you were in town. 🙂

    There are 3 points of conversation at the local watering hole. Dogs, guns, trucks. Pathetic.

    I agree with your position. I love to fish, and while I no longer hunt, I used to kill a few squirrels/rabbits, and a deer or two, when I was a kid. Most people have no idea of all the work/nastiness involved to get meat on the table. They are more than blissfully unaware, and wouldn’t want to hear it if you offered.

    I hate to admit it, but the whitetail deer population here is so high it is dangerous to drive from dusk to dawn. I just hit a deer a few months back. (luckily it did very little noticeable damage to the Altima) We need the deer population kept in check, and while I have zero love for these types of hunters, I can appreciate they are a part of the food chain cycle. I just wish they could grow some sense/manners.

    1. I suppose they do perform some sort of service, even if they do so in a boorish manner. I hadn’t really thought of the fact that animal populations sometimes need to be kept in check. At least there’s one reason to tolerate the good Ole boys, I guess.

      1. Our whitetail population is pretty high. the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) did not in times past allow does to be taken. They have started to allow them to be taken in certain situations such as youth hunts, and other measures that frankly I’m not in the know about. I just know you can legally take them if you follow the guidelines. I took the liberty of lifting this from TWRA’s website:

        Because of restoration initiatives, effective game laws, and wise management, the deer herd in Tennessee has increased dramatically from approximately 2,000 deer in the 1940’s to an estimated 900,000 animals in 2005. To date, the majority of the herd exists in middle and western Tennessee, while densities in the Mississippi River counties, the Cumberland Plateau, and far eastern portions of the state remain below desired levels. The increasing deer population has been reflected in an increasing harvest, which was a record 179,542 deer during the 2004/05 season. Hunter success has grown with the increasing harvests, hitting an all-time high in 2004 with 46% of deer hunters harvesting at least one deer. Although hunter numbers have declined slightly since their peak of 242,000 in 1999, they have remained relatively stable since the turn of the century, averaging 217,400 deer hunters per year.

        In recent years, the Agency’s attention has turned to increasing and maintaining the doe harvest in order to control herd growth. This has been accomplished through liberalized antlerless bag limits, liberalized deer tagging regulations, increased seasons, and increased non-quota antlerless hunting opportunities. Overall, this strategy has worked relatively well, as most areas are harvesting the desired number of does (Tennessee Wildl. Res. Ag. 2005). The percentage of does in the overall harvest has increased steadily from 19% in 1984 to 32% in 1994 to 45% in 2004.

        So, yeah 900,000 that they know about. No telling how many are keeping their heads low and not getting counted 😉 I can tell you this much, you can darn near toss a rock in the brush and scatter a few deer ’round here. As bad as I hate to admit it, my local beer swizzling, gun totin, redneck yee haw’s do provide some sort of population check. One that is quite necessary.

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