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Unnatural selection
April 28, 2011 5:53 AM   Subscribe

The largest single cause of death of large mammals in North America: hunting
posted by londonmark (236 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hate to be "that guy," but a lot of those animals listed tend to overpopulate, especially without a natural predator. Here in NJ, deer are a major road hazard, and they'll eat just about anything you plant.

However, for precisely that reason, hunting should be well regulated, with a game warden and all that so that animals aren't hunted to the point that they're endangered, or worse, extinction.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:56 AM on April 28, 2011 [23 favorites]


I hate to be "that guy" as well, but:

This produced definite records of 2209 animal deaths, of which the causes of 1874 were known.

I'm no statistician, but I'm not sure that's a really representative sample of all mammals in North America.
posted by wrok at 5:59 AM on April 28, 2011 [28 favorites]


Of course it is. That's the way nature works. Large animals are not theme park attractions.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:00 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Surely the largest single cause of death of large mammals in North America is obesity?

(sorry, sorry, snark over, but seriously, get your terminology right...)
posted by Leon at 6:02 AM on April 28, 2011 [39 favorites]


I am a large mammal, and I am much more likely to die of other causes.
posted by Mngo at 6:02 AM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Alaska's caribou herd would overpopulate and die of disease and starvation were the herd not culled by hunting -- humans and wolves alike -- every year.

Nature is red in tooth and claw.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:02 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Humans kill more deer, antelope, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, bobcats and coyotes, among others, than any other cause, including predation, starvation, weather, disease and natural causes including age, accident or developmental defects.

Yes, because we employ thousands of park rangers to pour over the wilderness in search of deer that have succumbed to starvations and also have cameras that monitor wolf kills, so it's EXACTLY as accurate as sales of hunting licenses.

Sorry, not buying it.
posted by melissam at 6:03 AM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Cows are large mammals.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:04 AM on April 28, 2011 [41 favorites]


I call bullshit. There are lots of animals. So many that we could never hunt enough of them. Have you ever seen a flock of passenger pigeons? They're practically infinite in number.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:04 AM on April 28, 2011 [35 favorites]


And it's not just that deer eat anything you plant, they can also suppress forest regeneration. There are forests in New Jersey with virtually no understory left because of the deer. This has consequences across the ecosystem, and not just for future forests. It is one of the factors responsible for the decline of some ground nesting bird populations in the northeast.
posted by mollweide at 6:05 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


BTW is this published in a real journal or is it just a talk they gave? I hate science articles that don't name papers and make you hunt for them (hehe).
posted by melissam at 6:05 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you ever seen a flock of passenger pigeons? They're practically infinite in number.

Same goes for Carolina Parakeets
posted by TedW at 6:05 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unlike most mammals, we are creatures of Free Willy.
posted by hal9k at 6:06 AM on April 28, 2011


Managed hunting of large mammals is just like the wholesale slaughter of passenger pigeons.
posted by mollweide at 6:06 AM on April 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Interesting article, but I have to wonder if the author would consider it to be "unnatural" for a raccoon to be killed by a coyote, or a skunk by a wolf. Because he's counting "being hunted by humans" as unnatural. Getting hit by cars or sucked into turbines? Sure, "unnatural". But "hunted, killed, and eaten by other mammals" (humans in this case) seems pretty darn natural to me.
posted by Bugbread at 6:06 AM on April 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Here in NJ, deer are a major road hazard, and they'll eat just about anything you plant.

I'm of the opinion that there are far too many roads and far too many cars, as it happens.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:07 AM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


Since when are birds mammals?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:09 AM on April 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


As far as I can find based on the scientific databases I have access to at my large research university, this is not a peer-reviewed paper published in a reputable journal. I am also quite suspicious of any statistical work done by museum curators.
posted by melissam at 6:09 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I actually have no problem believing this; in much of the country humans are the only predator left. I would guess the results vary from region to region, with areas having viable bear and wolf populations having less impact from hunting. Given that the list in the article includes such animals as skunks and porcupines (a pretty broad definition of large mammal) I am surprised vehicle collisions weren't a more prominent cause of death.
posted by TedW at 6:09 AM on April 28, 2011


For the record, not hunting-ist, I actually like and respect hunting.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:09 AM on April 28, 2011


Slaughterhouses kill more large mammals than hunters.
posted by Ardiril at 6:10 AM on April 28, 2011 [30 favorites]


I am surprised vehicle collisions weren't a more prominent cause of death.
That's because their sample size was pathetic and their method of sampling highly questionable from what I can gather.
posted by melissam at 6:12 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Another point the article brought up that I do wonder about is the way they compare deaths from hunting to deaths from starvation and disease. If humans weren't hunting them and there were other predators still around, how many animals would die of "natural causes" and how many would be eaten by wolves, mountain lions, and such. I had always been of the impression that relatively few wild animal succumb to disease, as they will be easy prey in their weakened state.
posted by TedW at 6:13 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate to be "that guy," but a lot of those animals listed tend to overpopulate, especially without a natural predator. Here in NJ, deer are a major road hazard, and they'll eat just about anything you plant.

Yes, reminds me a bit of Australia, where the kangaroo's only predators are themselves (starvation) and cars.
posted by smackfu at 6:15 AM on April 28, 2011


In other news, homo sapiens remains the apex predator throughout most of its territory.
posted by valkyryn at 6:18 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This stupid appeal to nature is stupid.
posted by enn at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the relatively (compared to historical numbers) small amount of deer around are still a hazard to humans, then humans are just too spread out and easily bothered by deer. The solution is fewer humans, not fewer deer.

Which brings me to my plan to solve that problem as well as make the "large North American mammals" thing right: The most dangerous game of all: MAN.
posted by DU at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Time is the greatest killer of all!
posted by Senator at 6:20 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>Here in NJ, deer are a major road hazard, and they'll eat just about anything you plant.

>I'm of the opinion that there are far too many roads and far too many cars, as it happens.


Those two are not mutually exclusive.

This also sounds kind of bogus to me. Spend enough time in the outdoors and you will see starving elk, deer with a broken leg, things like that. My guess is that they are massively undercounting deaths in tough winters, and overestimating the impact of hunting.
posted by Forktine at 6:22 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am a large mammal, and I am much more likely to die of other causes.

Might I interest you in an all expenses paid trip to my private island?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:23 AM on April 28, 2011 [20 favorites]


DU, deer population densities are higher now in the northeast than they were prior to European settlement.
posted by mollweide at 6:24 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are we artificially selecting the generations that survive, and in doing so, altering the evolutionary paths of these species?

Yes. Every time you kill an animal, you are altering that species evolutionary path. Every time you fail to kill an animal, you are altering that species evolutionary path.

In other news, we artificially select the generations that survive every time we tell our kids to look both ways before crossing the street and not to stick things in electrical outlets.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:25 AM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


By artificially killing so many mammals, via hunting, culling, poaching or driving vehicles into them, are we taking over the role once played by natural selection?

Are we artificially selecting the generations that survive, and in doing so, altering the evolutionary paths of these species?


Not to be contrarian, but so what? There's absolutely no reason that we should elevate 'natural selection' to some kind of deity, as if everything that happens naturally is good. I mean, it's not as if the native americans didn't wipe out most of America's native large mammals millenia before Europe even knew it was there.

We should be concerning ourselves with what is good for humanity, first and foremost. And yes, preserving the huge diversity of animal and plant species is good for humanity, but if we create nature preserves, that also interferes with natural selection.

Do we want wolves and caribou around? Then we should enact policies that help preserve them as a species, but let's not kid ourselves that doing nature's work by doing so. Nature doesn't give a fuck about the caribou.
posted by empath at 6:27 AM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


In other news, we artificially select the generations that survive every time we tell our kids to look both ways before crossing the street and not to stick things in electrical outlets.

Human beings and everything we do is as natural as the sunshine.
posted by empath at 6:28 AM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, we've killed off most of the other predators. So, yeah.
posted by Eideteker at 6:32 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


First, I am not opposed to hunting. BUT, the "population control" argument is disingenuous, at best.

When you mention hunting in the US, most people think first about deer. And you always hear "we have more deer now than ever before!". Well, no shit. Deer live on the edge of wooded habitat - constantly subdividing land increases the edges and increases the deer population.

Second, if controlling the prey population is really that important there would be a greater effort to increase the predator population. Good luck with that.

Third, and most important, if hunting is going to be the means of population control then there needs to be more emphasis on culling the females. Heavy hunting can actually pressure deer into stepping up their procreation - and new deer come from female deer. Where deer are too numerous there need to be rules like you can't get a buck stamp until you take a female.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:32 AM on April 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


...and the largest cause of deaths of human beings world-wide by another animal is......?
posted by Postroad at 6:34 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


the "population control" argument is disingenuous, at best.

No kidding. It's the exact analog of the "b-b-b-but my motorcycle needs to be super loud for safety".
posted by DU at 6:35 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Deer live on the edge of wooded habitat - constantly subdividing land increases the edges and increases the deer population.

Deer actually live best in a mix of established hardwoods, soft wood edge scrub and open fields. But more importantly for the deer boom is the fact that we've turned what was once largely a vast prarie into that mix.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]



...and the largest cause of deaths of human beings world-wide by another animal is......?


Tsetse fly?
posted by ian1977 at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Benny, New Jersey has implemented a doe first policy in most of its deer management zones, so at least some jurisdictions are focused on population control.
posted by mollweide at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2011


Oops, I was wrong...its the mosquito.
posted by ian1977 at 6:37 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Third, and most important, if hunting is going to be the means of population control then there needs to be more emphasis on culling the females. Heavy hunting can actually pressure deer into stepping up their procreation - and new deer come from female deer. Where deer are too numerous there need to be rules like you can't get a buck stamp until you take a female.

There are rules like this in most places. I don't know the exist numbers, but in NY as a hunter you get extra doe tags.
posted by melissam at 6:40 AM on April 28, 2011


As long as the killed anims are being used for food and clothing or to protect livestock, I'm fine with this. When the coyote or deer develop air conditioning and microwave popcorn, then they can be king of the hill, but in the meantime, humans will sit upon the throne.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:41 AM on April 28, 2011


In related news...
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:41 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Second, if controlling the prey population is really that important there would be a greater effort to increase the predator population.

Look, I'm spreading my seed as fast as I can here.
posted by stevis23 at 6:42 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


That humans are the primary predator is not really that important. If it weren't humans, it would be bobcats or wolves or foxes or some other "native" predator.

The real point of the article gets buried at the end of the piece: in nature, the weak, frail, or sick get culled from the pack. Each successive generation is more genetically robust.

Humans who hunt for sport tend to select larger, healthier, more appealing specimens--irrespective of what they do with the animal after they kill it.

So the problem here is that gene pools are weakening rather than strengthening with successive generations.

Is this a problem? Are we just deifying natural selection? Who knows. What matters is that this is unprecedented in evolutionary history. We just don't know what it could mean...but it might not be good at all in the long run.
posted by jefficator at 6:43 AM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure how 'academic' the study is, but it's cited in the article if you dig deep enough. Here's the abstract. I agree it's a small sample and there may well be holes in the methodology or conclusions.

I do find the shrugging and the 'them or us' arguments disheartening though. Obviously we are the largest single cause of death, because obviously we have expanded at an exponential rate to the point where we dwarf the rest of the animal kingdom. We have thrown the food chain out of balance so badly that we feel justified in controlling other animal populations for our own good. And yes, you can argue that this is as 'natural' as any other course the world could have taken, and yes it's preferably to letting people starve. But, I don't think that's anything to be proud of. I don't have a religious or moral belief in my own superiority, so I can't feel good about this. But more importantly, I am certain that, the more we interfere with nature, the more we will need to interfere with nature. I don't see how this will end well.
posted by londonmark at 6:45 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


So the problem here is that gene pools are weakening rather than strengthening with successive generations.

Interestingly enough, this worked in reversed for African bees where they were inadvertently breed to be more aggressive.

Hopefully we'll get killer deer in time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Humans who hunt for sport tend to select larger, healthier, more appealing specimens--irrespective of what they do with the animal after they kill it.


But those larger, healthier, more appealing specimens are very hard to kill, as any experienced hunter will tell you. If anything, I think we are selecting for more intelligent deer.

First, I am not opposed to hunting. BUT, the "population control" argument is disingenuous, at best.

Then you mention several reasons why the deer population is too high as well as an infeasible solution for most locations? I'd love to take you out and show you the damage high deer populations can mete out on the ecosystem. There is a lot of armchair wildlife management going on in this thread, but wildlife management complex than most people imagine. I studied it in school and continue to be surprised.
posted by melissam at 6:47 AM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


On a lighter note, I love the fact that someone has shot at the no-hunting sign on the BBC article and missed the target :)
posted by londonmark at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, by the time a buck becomes a target for trophy hunters, it probably will have already sired offspring.
posted by melissam at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


But, I don't think that's anything to be proud of. I don't have a religious or moral belief in my own superiority, so I can't feel good about this. But more importantly, I am certain that, the more we interfere with nature, the more we will need to interfere with nature. I don't see how this will end well.

By setting yourself apart from nature, you are expressing a belief in your own superiority.
posted by empath at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Or inferiority.
posted by Bugbread at 6:49 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fair enough.
posted by empath at 6:50 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the problem here is that gene pools are weakening rather than strengthening with successive generations.

Btw, you can make a similar argument against modern medicine wrt humans.
posted by empath at 6:52 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


But more importantly, I am certain that, the more we interfere with nature, the more we will need to interfere with nature. I don't see how this will end well.

It ends well when humans eventually learn to control nature. Of course, lots of people die along the way as we test this technique or that procedure, but in the end, the scales may balance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:55 AM on April 28, 2011


Cows are large mammals.

Also pigs.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:55 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


By setting yourself apart from nature, you are expressing a belief in your own superiority.

I don't think I live 'within' nature. I don't have to hunt for my food, I don't fear predation or starvation or disease. To your world view that may be a false perception or a naive viewpoint, but there's nothing superior about it. I certainly don't feel superior. Perhaps there's something in Bugbread's suggestion of inferiority though.
posted by londonmark at 6:56 AM on April 28, 2011


You cannot go against nature,
'cause when you do
going against nature
is a part of nature, too.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 6:59 AM on April 28, 2011 [10 favorites]



For the record, not hunting-ist, I actually like and respect hunting.


Respect it? Even sport hunting? Maybe your standards aren't very high. It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:59 AM on April 28, 2011


I don't think I live 'within' nature. I don't have to hunt for my food, I don't fear predation or starvation or disease.

What do you think nature is? There's no such thing as being outside nature. All life changes its environment -- why is a city less natural than a forest?
posted by empath at 7:01 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


mollweide: "And it's not just that deer eat anything you plant, they can also suppress forest regeneration. There are forests in New Jersey with virtually no understory left because of the deer. This has consequences across the ecosystem, and not just for future forests. It is one of the factors responsible for the decline of some ground nesting bird populations in the northeast."

Fucking Bambi.
posted by bwg at 7:05 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


No kidding. It's the exact analog of the "b-b-b-but my motorcycle needs to be super loud for safety".

No matter what you think about hunting; this is solidly nonsense.
posted by spaltavian at 7:05 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just out of view of one of the roads in Yellowstone, I got to see the results of a 50-year long study of the effects of the region's rising elk population in a particular valley meadow. This was on a high school science field trip, so the details are a little cloudy... In the 1950s or 60s scientists built a square metal fence that was a few hundred feet on each side, and 8 or so feet tall. Essentially, it was built in such a way that elk couldn't get into the fenced-off area. I said this was in a meadow, but the area inside the fence was a dense forest, clipped off exactly at the fence line, with branches reaching over that were too tall for elk to reach. The results, the accompanying ecologist told our wide eyes, showed what a devastating effect the overpopulation of elk in the area had on the entire valley. The area had previously been thick with trees, allowing habitat for all the other woodland creatures. Elk graze the area like cows at a pasture; any tree that might find purchase in the fertile soil was eaten before it could sprout higher than a foot or two. Beavers, for instance, had been forced out of the area, because they couldn't find any suitable wood to built their dams. Other small mammals and birds had to move to other areas because the elk grazing destroyed the food chain.

It was a clear view, to my young eyes, into unintended consequences of overprotection of areas and species. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be wildlife refuges... And the outfitter-enabled slaughter just outside the bounds of the park is despicable. But, I can see the value of well-regulated management of species and believe that strategy can include hunting. Montana also has special "depredation" elk hunts, which aim to use hunting to manage the species in areas where numbers of elk's natural predators have dwindled.

there needs to be more emphasis on culling the females

I've only hunted in Montana, so this might not be the same everywhere. And numbers and management strategies change each year. If I remember right, in many areas, you can get one either-sex deer tag (thus allowing hunting of males) through special drawing or Fish, Wildlife and Parks Offices, and multiple "antlerless" permits over-the-counter at sports stores. This is done in hopes of decreasing the number of females.
posted by msbrauer at 7:06 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cows are large mammals.

Also pigs.


Cows and pigs are livestock, not wild animals.

but in the end, the scales may balance.

I'd rather not live in a world where the only animals alive are people, livestock, and pests we can't get rid of. I'd sleep better at night knowing that somewhere out there, there's an elephant running free, and a polar bear sitting on the ice.

If shooting a bunch of deer is going to solve the deer problem, great. They've been shooting deer for a while now, is it helping? People need to figure out how to deal with deer in the suburban US. It is not the deer that I'm worried about.

Time and again, people have shown stupidity and have wiped out entire populations (some to total extinction) of just about everything that is slow enough to be easily shot at. Forgive me for not trusting a bunch of dudes with guns.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:06 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Respect it? Even sport hunting? Maybe your standards aren't very high. It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

How else are they going to get it home?
posted by sweetkid at 7:06 AM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


No kidding. It's the exact analog of the "b-b-b-but my motorcycle needs to be super loud for safety".

It's neither exact nor an anolog. It's a totally different subject.
posted by rocket88 at 7:07 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Second, if controlling the prey population is really that important there would be a greater effort to increase the predator population. Good luck with that.

What? One does not logically follow the other. Controlling the prey population really is that important, but it doesn't mean that Fish & Game is going to start importing mountain lions and wolves to New Jersey. Unless what you mean by "increasing the predator population" is "handing out more hunting licenses and making the season longer."
posted by rtha at 7:09 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Controlling the prey population really is that important, but it doesn't mean that Fish & Game is going to start importing mountain lions and wolves to New Jersey.

Well, can we just stop shooting the mountain lions and wolves too? Or are they overpopulated?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:11 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then you mention several reasons why the deer population is too high as well as an infeasible solution for most locations? I'd love to take you out and show you the damage high deer populations can mete out on the ecosystem. There is a lot of armchair wildlife management going on in this thread, but wildlife management complex than most people imagine.

Trust me, I am intimately familiar with whitetail deer. I live in an area with a huge deer population. And, yes, the are some serious problems with increasing deer/people interaction - Lyme disease and car wrecks, especially.

But deer live in the same ecosystem we do - with even less control over their own well-being. They can't mete out unlimited damage to the ecosystem (unless "damage to the ecosystem" means eating the corn or rose bushes) without paying the price. Deer go through extremely traumatic booms and busts. It's ugly and mean, and hunting can add some "humanity" (ha!) to the situation.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Londonmark, thanks for the reference. Here is the paper's method
"To find published mortality reports, we performed a search of literature databases and examined specific journals specializing in wildlife ecology. We examined all issues of the Journal of Wildlife Management and the Journal of Mammalogy beginning at 1970 (the approximate advent of radiotelemetry). We also searched the databases: EBSCO host, Biological Abstracts, BioOne and JSTOR for articles published between 1970 and 2008. Search terms used were ‘cause-specific mortality’, ‘mortality’ and ‘survival’. Insuffi-cient studies of juvenile mortality were available for most mammal orders; therefore, we only used studies of adult mammals (as defined by the authors of the original studies, generally referring to reproductive age), and did not include age structure as a variable."

How does something like this get published? I understand doing a review based on this information, but I don't think it's sufficient to calculate much from given the wide range of purposes and sampling methods the aforementioned studies represent.
posted by melissam at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to guess that when you restrict to recorded, known causes of death there's a wee bit of bias towards hunting deaths which are meticulous recorded in official registers.

Even for closely overseen populations, if hunters preferentially kill the large, oldest (and easiest to find) members of a population then you've created a huge competing risk for all other causes.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2011


msbrauer:

I believe that scientists were also amazed at how quickly the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone checked all those problems.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:18 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

It's far better to have the carcass chopped up and wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, I suppose.
posted by hippybear at 7:22 AM on April 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


It was a clear view, to my young eyes, into unintended consequences of overprotection of areas and species. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be wildlife refuges...

But again, the problem with these types of refuges is that they are not wholly intact ecosystems, but rather disturbed edge forests which are great at supporting elk but terrible at supporting things that predate on elk. In fact those upper predators are so sensitive to ecosystem disturbance that it's much too late for them in most areas of North America. So, yes, in building wildlife refuges we need to design considering these things.

And wolves, goodness, oh yes. That's really the missing link here. For as long has man has raised livestock he has been in competition with wolves to eat them, and therefore wolves have been hunted. It's just that, with modern technology, we've gotten awfully good at it, and found out that if you exterminate all the wolves you end up with overpopulation of their prey. Palin was only the latest example in a long history.
posted by mek at 7:25 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


This thread is going to go nuclear soon with all the tediousness.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:26 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


therefore wolves have been hunted.

Well, not just hunted.
posted by empath at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2011


DU: It's the exact analog of the "b-b-b-but my motorcycle needs to be super loud for safety".

See, I would agree with you if the subject had been hunting Bambi with an AR-15, but no, population control of deer in the northeast has become necessary. I'll preface this by saying that my experience with deer has been in Pennsylvania, and that I grew up watching deer in my backyard. The park that these deer lived in is hemmed in on all sides by development, and the deer have been driven to this piece of land, which has an abundance of trees and fields and no natural predators. This means a limited amount of food and a high, high reproduction rate. Over the years, the deer came closer to the houses...into the yards, to eat the bushes and flowers...and then into the front yards, where the presence of people barely bothered them. The park land itself was strained and more deer carcases started appearing on the surrounding roadside.

So park officials did a count, as best they could, and the number was way higher than the park could support. So they started holding a hunt for does. Now I was long gone at this point, but I heard about the protests, realizing that these well-intentioned people had *never seen starving deer* or thought about what was happening to the greens in the park. The "Banbi" mentality took over. Nonetheless, the hunts have been held, the deer population is down and the park is healthier.

For those who are annoyed about guys in camo with guns... There are always going to be yahoos among us. But there will also be guys who donate their kills to the Hunters Sharing the Harvest project ("Pennsylvania’s charitable venison donation program for hunters who share their extra venison via a statewide network of participating butchers to Food Banks across Pennsylvania") and -- and this is important -- there will always be families for whom a deer or two in the freezer is the difference between having a meal and going without. I am not endorsing manly-man hunting. I am saying that necessity, tradition and utility count for something, and that these factors should count for something in any discussion about harvesting deer.

As for the other animals mentioned in the blog ("antelope, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, bobcats and coyotes"), several of them are threats to livestock and to small children. Last week, my neighbor shot a skunk in broad daylight; the skunk was in the neighbor's yard, wandering around in circles and listing. That is not a bad kill, especially as it may have prevented serious health problems for the various cats, dogs, chickens and kids in the immediate vicinity. Keeping the flock safe sometimes means killing cute-looking critters.

It's easy to mock hunters. But don't. They have a legitimate role, especially in conjunction with wildlife management programs.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:28 AM on April 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


Humans are large mammals.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:28 AM on April 28, 2011


Humans kill more deer, antelope, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, bobcats and coyotes, among others, than any other cause, including predation, starvation, weather, disease and natural causes including age, accident or developmental defects.
Humans aren't 'predation'? Anyway, why does this matter? They were going to die anyway.
I call bullshit. There are lots of animals. So many that we could never hunt enough of them. Have you ever seen a flock of passenger pigeons? They're practically infinite in number.
They're not mammals, though.
Second, if controlling the prey population is really that important there would be a greater effort to increase the predator population. Good luck with that.
So we shouldn't kill deer, and instead we should introduce wolves and stuff into the woods in order to kill deer to prevent overpopulation? Why not just cut out the middle man?
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on April 28, 2011


An overview of deer management objectives in Virginia, from 1930 to 2004.

Virginia is an interesting case, as they were the first place in the US to have a closed season for hunting... in 1699.

According to those two links, a program to renew the depleted population of white-tailed deer in the state began in the early 1900s - in 1931, the entire population of whitetails was estimated at 25,000. Current estimate is around 900,000.

Anecdotally, there are a lot more deer in VA now than in the 1970s, which i discussed with my brother and uncle last time I was back there visiting family - my brother has gotten more deer last year than my uncle did at all, growing up. Seems like every time I drive on the Parkway at night, I see lots and lots of deer - more than I remember seeing 15-20 years back. We used to play a game counting them; low double digits was a lot then. 3 or 4 years ago there were so many I lost count.

Does that mean Virginia is overpopulated? Nope; that second link I posted differentiates between BCC, "biological carrying capacity", the amount of deer that can physically live in an area without starving - and CCC, or "cultural carrying capacity" the quantity of deer that humans in the area are willing to tolerate. You can have a look at the maps in the first link; most counties in the Old Dominion are focused on maintaining the deer population; a very few are trying to increase it, and a very few are trying to actively decrease it.

The numbers are fascinating - in 2009 and 2010, there were 478944 deer tagged. For comparison, between 1698 and 1715, approximately 238,000 hides were exported from Virginia to Europe - 14,000 annually.(see 6th paragraph)
posted by dubold at 7:29 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If people REALLY gave a shit about the overwhelming deer population (and believe me, I have to avoid stepping in deer poop just about every time I go into my yard), then we would illegalize the hunting of predators, and we would stop listening to the whiners who want to build their second and third homes in the middle of the forest and then tie their prized (and delicious!) little poodles in the back yard and go shrieking for the killing of wolves and coyotes when they feel their precious is threatened.

I get a little rabid on this issue, so you will have to excuse the spittle.

When you kill a predator species, even ONE, you disrupt a family/clan system that is primarily dedicated to culling the old and sick of prey species. You in fact disrupt the entire cycle of life in a nearly unfixable way, which is EXACTLY why we have so many fucking deer. One major part of that article is how many coyotes and wolves and bear get killed (illegally or legally) because some macho fuck wants to feel like a Big Man by killing something he imagines might kill him (or his precious little poodle). It's primal, sure. But it also is fucked up beyond belief.

I don't give much of a shit about people going out there hunting deer. It's a tradition, blah blah blah. Venison is tasty, whatever. (I'd rather hunting licenses and the meat be prioritized for the poor/hungry, but okay.) But whenever I get in a conversation of any depth with hunters, somehow they don't have much love for their fellow hunter species. They can't wait until wolves get off the endangered list so they can bag them one o' them. They wait for years to be allowed to kill a bear. They hate coyotes. And when there's any ripple in the population of any other prey species, they get all up in arms about how the predators (especially wolves) are killing off something they think are THEIRS (for fuck's sake!).

I live in Northern Minnesota. And if they de-list wolves, I will permanently disbelieve every hunter who says he's "just culling the overpopulation." What a fucking crock.
posted by RedEmma at 7:29 AM on April 28, 2011 [27 favorites]


Look, these mammals...they bite...they stand in our roads..they invade our trashcans and are generally poorly mannered. You can't have biting, smelly, dangerously unintelligent things around places where you want to settle down, live, purchase quality made consumer products, and drive safely. The less mammals out there (besides super cute cuddly pets)..the better...even the sight of one I perceive as coming straight for me makes that particular species an overpopulated one. Period. I mean, how dare they? We are the chosen rulers of this planet, and they defy our humanly centric standards?

Joking aside, I do feel it's like we're constantly arguing about our effect on nature while nature is taking a nosedive...deep down, it's because we want to live in spite of it. We've evolved to outsmart our prey...and subsequently evolved to outsmart the harshness of living in the wild. We now have our guns, our Air Conditioning, our MTV. But we're also in denial. We really don't know what the hell we're doing to our own planet...especially those of us that use words like "control" in any sentence related to nature. Those that sincerely believe you can truly control ANYTHING, including their own Id. That's is our plight whether we like it or not..regardless as to whether we are able rationalize our decisions, survival instincts, and purging of undesirable elements to our psyche. It's almost as if the collective mob within the majority of us will not be satisfied until we push all the boundaries of ourselves and our ecosystems with unheeded fears of consequence....just to see what happens.

Deer overpopulation is a human created concept...I'm sure the deer don't know there's too many of them...or maybe they do know their numbers...yet deny its a problem like we do?
posted by samsara at 7:33 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Respect it? Even sport hunting? Maybe your standards aren't very high. It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

How on earth do you think they get the deer home or to the butcher to dress and package it?
posted by padraigin at 7:33 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few examples of why I can't take hunting seriously.

If all anybody did was shoot deer, I can understand. But you don't. Hunters kill anything that they can shoot. By killing predators, they are contributing to the overpopulation. They are creating the problem that only they can solve.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:39 AM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Respect it? Even sport hunting? Maybe your standards aren't very high.

I'd like to hate sport hunters, but I just don't see the logic. Dead is dead, the deer doesn't know what happens to it after it's dead and frankly I suspect it would be small consolation if it knew that it was being eaten. Any waste is only in terms of human opportunity, the nutrients return to the soil one way or another.
posted by 445supermag at 7:40 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]



It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

It's far better to have the carcass chopped up and wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, I suppos
e.

Did I say anything about plastic and styrofoam? You missed the point.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:41 AM on April 28, 2011


Deer overpopulation is a human created concept...I'm sure the deer don't know there's too many of them...or maybe they do know their numbers...yet deny its a problem like we do?

What.
posted by OmieWise at 7:41 AM on April 28, 2011


I love the fact that someone has shot at the no-hunting sign on the BBC article and missed the target :)

Looks like they were sighting-in and adjusted to hit the bulls eye.

Also, by the time a buck becomes a target for trophy hunters, it probably will have already sired offspring.

Exactly, the "trophy buck" has lived several seasons.

It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

It's far better to have the carcass chopped up and wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, I suppose.


You'd prefer they just left them in the woods?

Hunters kill anything that they can shoot.

I'm guessing you don't know a lot of hunters.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:43 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The overpopulation argument, as put forth by hunters, is total bullshit:

many will tell you in the next sentence that wolves must be hunted/discouraged because they will kill too many deer.

Additionally, population reduction as practiced by hunters works in the opposite fashion to other predators-- natural predators kill the weakest members of prey populations, because they are easier to run down, furthering the overall health of the herd. The goal of most human hunters is to kill the most magnificent animal that they can find. Where I grew up, if you kill a particularly large, healthy or beautiful animal they will put your picture in the paper.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:45 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to hate sport hunters, but I just don't see the logic. Dead is dead, the deer doesn't know what happens to it after it's dead and frankly I suspect it would be small consolation if it knew that it was being eaten. Any waste is only in terms of human opportunity, the nutrients return to the soil one way or another.

Yeah dead is dead but the point is: it doesn't have to be die. Hunting for food is one thing, you gotta eat to survive. But shooting wolves for example, for sport, is completely inexcusable and odious. It's just a trophy. I think humans should take a little more responsibility as the most "advanced" animals on the planet than to kill stuff just because they can.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:46 AM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


sorry I meant doesn't "have to die"
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:47 AM on April 28, 2011


Yeah dead is dead but the point is: it doesn't have to be die. Hunting for food is one thing, you gotta eat to survive. But shooting wolves for example, for sport, is completely inexcusable and odious. It's just a trophy. I think humans should take a little more responsibility as the most "advanced" animals on the planet than to kill stuff just because they can.

I don't know any sport hunters of the sort who hunt wolves, honestly, and I wonder if they're as prevalent as people seem to think. I know many hunters who enjoy it as a sport but eat what they shoot. They don't need it to survive per se, they all live in places where there's a grocery store and they all have jobs. But they hunt their own food because they can, yeah. I think you're creating this black and white area where there's survival hunting or sport hunting and there can't be any overlap, and I think you're incorrect.
posted by padraigin at 7:52 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm guessing you don't know a lot of hunters.

Cool story bro. Tell me more about me.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:00 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear if you missed the Palin reference, the state of Alaska has a program of "aerial wolf gunning." And naturally, one of the latest budget deals has delisted wolves from the endangered species list. (Holy shit. That went totally unreported.)
posted by mek at 8:00 AM on April 28, 2011


Hunters kill anything that they can shoot.

Cool story bro. Tell me more about me.
posted by electroboy at 8:01 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think you're creating this black and white area where there's survival hunting or sport hunting and there can't be any overlap, and I think you're incorrect.

Yeah I probably am doing that. I'm sure they do overlap. But I stand by what I said.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:01 AM on April 28, 2011


Since when are birds mammals?

LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE HASN'T MET MY HUGE-TITTED PARROT
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:02 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, can we just stop shooting the mountain lions and wolves too? Or are they overpopulated?

Both are effectively extinct in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. We have lions in California, but their population is small compared to that of deer, and when they follow their prey into the suburbs, they tend to get shot because they are perceived to be a greater threat to humans than deer.
posted by rtha at 8:02 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know any sport hunters of the sort who hunt wolves, honestly,
posted by empath at 8:02 AM on April 28, 2011


Tell me more about me.

Not you, per se, but I can tell you about some hunters. But don't take my word for it.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:03 AM on April 28, 2011


I would agree with you if the subject had been hunting Bambi with an AR-15

Terrible idea. Those tiny little bullets wouldn't get the job done.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2011


I don't know any sport hunters of the sort who hunt wolves, honestly, and I wonder if they're as prevalent as people seem to think.

Montana and Idaho have had wolf quotas since 2009. I believe they are still protected in Wyoming, but that could possibly change soon.
posted by londonmark at 8:11 AM on April 28, 2011


Well, can we just stop shooting the mountain lions and wolves too? Or are they overpopulated?

Yes, we could. And coyotes, and bobcats, and lynxes, and brown bears...

Big cats and big bears are an issue because they can be dangerous to humans, but it would still be far better to deal with the occasional nuisance individual than slaughter the species wholesale.

Wolves, coyotes and small cats pose little to no danger at all. They are killed to protect livestock only - it's much cheaper to buy bullets than hire shepherds.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:12 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who hunt deer and other overpopulated animals, e.g., rabbits, squirrels, etc. Totally fine. I don't see how anyone can have an ethical disagreement with that unless they are opposed to killing any animal under any circumstance, which is really quite an untenable position since by virtue of living you are indirectly responsible for this and otherwise the only solution is to kill yourself and therefor, an animal.

People who kill lions, wolves, elephants, etc., for "sport" so they can feel as if they've conquered nature at the cost of further endangering these animals and depriving future generations of the possibility to observe their beauty. Fuck you million times. You suck.
posted by gagglezoomer at 8:13 AM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


How is the shepherd supposed to deal with the wolf?
posted by maryr at 8:14 AM on April 28, 2011


How is the shepherd supposed to deal with the wolf?

I'm guessing you don't know many shepherds.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:16 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]



How is the shepherd supposed to deal with the wolf?


Buy a grizzly bear.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:16 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


How is the shepherd supposed to deal with the wolf?

The same way they always have - scare them off. Predators are opportunists; if they have to expend more energy than they think they can get from the prey, they will look elsewhere.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:17 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not you, per se, but I can tell you about some hunters. But don't take my word for it.

Do you have an example that more recent than 10,000 years ago?
posted by electroboy at 8:18 AM on April 28, 2011


Do you have an example that more recent than 10,000 years ago?

The hell are you talking about? Half the examples on the first page of results are this decade, a bunch of them are in the last two years.
posted by mek at 8:21 AM on April 28, 2011


If all anybody did was shoot deer, I can understand. But you don't. Hunters kill anything that they can shoot.

Please Threeway Handshake, make more generalizations. Sweeping generalizations make for great discussions.

I have hunted deer. It turns out that I do enjoy venison. It's tasty. Growing up in part of Michigan where the DNR was practically begging people to go take out a deer, getting a doe or two was a relatively easy chore to get a bunch of extra meat. I don't find any great thrill in the hunt, in fact, I would usually be more pissed off that I was sitting in the woods freezing my ass off on a cold November morning.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:21 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do you have an example that more recent than 10,000 years ago?

I don't think that link to a Google search really supports the statement that there are a bunch of hunters who will shoot at moving creatures indiscriminately. I'm sure most hunters obey the local rules on what you can hunt and when. But enough don't that some animal populations are threatened as a result, or their already-precarious foothold is shaken further, and I think that's what Threeway was getting at.
posted by londonmark at 8:30 AM on April 28, 2011


I don't know Sarah Palin personally, honestly, and was only referring to the numerous hunters of my actual acquaintance, but it is great that there is such a prominent example of "HUNTERS BAD" that people can throw up whenever the subject arises, because that saves work.
posted by padraigin at 8:31 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]



Wolves, coyotes and small cats pose little to no danger at all. They are killed to protect livestock only - it's much cheaper to buy bullets than hire shepherds.


That, and more reliable.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:31 AM on April 28, 2011


Cows and pigs are livestock, not wild animals.

Not all pigs are livestock. There's several million wild pigs in the US that are considered an invasive species in all habitats.
posted by jamaro at 8:32 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've lived on the East Coast for quite a while, but was raised in the Midwest, which has a strong hunting culture. I think it's absolutely hilarious the stereotypes East Coasters here have of the "redneck hunter," which I guess is comparable to the East Coast "snobs" stereotypes held in the Midwest. Many hunters I knew growing up were ardent supporters of preserving nature and its habitats, and had deep respect for animals, I'm guessing so they could perpetuate sustainable hunting grounds. In addition, I feel that hunting gives one a greater appreciation for nature since you are forced to spend lots of time outdoors when you hunt.

I constantly have to hold my tougue at dinners when the topic of those "atrocious" and "disgusting" hunters comes up. I always get shouted down.

Has anyone ever sat drinking Busch Lite in a tree while blasting anything that moves with a semi-auto rifle? Sure. More than once. It's probably fun. Does this represent the vast majority of hunters? No.
posted by gagglezoomer at 8:35 AM on April 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


The hell are you talking about? Half the examples on the first page of results are this decade, a bunch of them are in the last two years.

That link doesn't support your statement.
posted by electroboy at 8:35 AM on April 28, 2011


many will tell you in the next sentence that wolves must be hunted/discouraged because they will kill too many deer.

What's the season on strawmen around here? I think there's some definite overpopulation going on.

There are a lot of dumb chuckleheads in the world. Some of them even hunt.

The pressure, particularly in western states, originally to eliminate and now to not reintroduce prey species, is in largest part from ranchers — not hunters. If you read about the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction program, overcoming the opposition from cattle ranchers in the surrounding area (since Yellowstone is not fenced) was one of the critical challenges to getting it off the ground, and remains a problem. There are lots of states where cattlemen's associations and other trade groups are politically powerful ... and in the ones that aren't you have suburban NIMBYism.

I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that if you eat grocery-store meat -- beef in particular - you're probably contributing more to the prey-reintroduction opposition than most hunters I know (some of whom complain the whitetail hunting has become less sporting than it used to be, because there are just so many).
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:38 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I understand the shepherd jokes, but the politics entailed in this real life scenario are pretty amazing.

Out west, wolves have been under pressure for many, many decades. Livestock owners are huge voices in supporting wolf kills. The truth is that many of those livestock owners want everything their way: they graze their herds on public land at huge discounts, minimize their expenses and maximize their profits by letting the herds graze unnattended, and then complain when predators take advantage of all the slow, tasty prey. And remember, cows and domestic sheep are the invasive species here, not the wolves.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:41 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

What if they strapped it to their bicycle ?
posted by rfs at 8:42 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I call bullshit. There are lots of animals. So many that we could never hunt enough of them. Have you ever seen a flock of passenger pigeons? They're practically infinite in number.

They're not mammals, though.


I think you may have missed the point here.

I don't hunt, but many of my friends and family do. I have greatly enjoyed the fruits of their labors in the form of venison, elk and duck.

Most hunters I know are the same group of people who care most for the environment. They are caring and compassionate, and make sure not to waste what they have taken. I have a friend who spends literally 20 to 30 hours of his evenings each fall, butchering deer in the garage and living room. He does this because he thinks that commercial butchers are much to wasteful.

I also have an uncle who baits bears with Twinkies. They are posed in his living room as if he killed them as they attacked, all scary claws and teeth and stuff. Reality is, the bears were facing the other way on all fours, enjoying a tasty snack.

I think the disagreement about hunting comes from the fact that we are more likely to hear stories about my uncle, because what he does is appalling. This is too bad, because I think the majority of hunters are a pretty caring group.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 8:42 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


We should be concerning ourselves with what is good for humanity, first and foremost.

we've done this for centuries, to the detriment of our planet. it's time to stop this ME ME ME mentality.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:43 AM on April 28, 2011


The truth is that many of those livestock owners want everything their way:

Not to be too much of a smartass; but who among us doesn't ?

There does exist some hunter resistance to predator (re)introduction. Among the hunters I know, there has been an evolution of resistance to the idea - particularly when deer herds were 1/3 to 1/2 of what they are now to acceptance of it as part of the order of things now that game is, well, plentiful.

I think you are correct that most of the opposition comes from hunters and farmers. Losing crops or cattle hurts the bottom line and, you know, it's hard to just sit by and let that happen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:46 AM on April 28, 2011


comes from hunters ranchers and farmers.

stupid lack of caffeine
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:47 AM on April 28, 2011


Don't forget the ponies.

To make room for livestock and farming operations on public lands, government-hired cowboys round up about 10,000 mustangs annually.

Public lands for livestock: total bullshit, imo, but those big beef folks sure have a lot of money. :(
posted by Glinn at 8:53 AM on April 28, 2011


Omiewise: "What."

Sorry about that, I see how the wording was confusing...added some clarity in bold:

"Deer overpopulation is a human created concept...I'm sure the deer don't know there's too many of them...or maybe they do know their numbers...yet deny its a problem like we do about ourselves?"
posted by samsara at 8:58 AM on April 28, 2011


It's fine if aborigines hunt, but Crocodile Dundee is an asshole.

Seriously, though, I would guess that the vast majority of hunters purchase tags and kill a deer or two each season. A few assholes go kill a bear and post the photo on the internet, but that doesn't mean hunting or being a hunter is wrong. Most recreational fishermen don't go out and kill an endangered shark for a photo op, either.
posted by snofoam at 9:07 AM on April 28, 2011


I don't really care if people hunt or not, but if it was about population control, we'd be shooting them with birth control. We don't shoot deer because we don't want them to starve to death.

Also, I have always been a little confused who "we,, we eat everything we kill" is supposed to comfort. If somebody shot me, I think I'd actually be unhappier if I knew they also planned to eat me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a clear view, to my young eyes, into unintended consequences of overprotection of areas and species. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be wildlife refuges...

Oh, but it's actually exactly the opposite - we didn't overprotect the elk, we underprotected the predators. The concept is called a trophic cascade, and the result of wolf & wildcat extirpation is deer and elk overpopulation. This leads not just a lack of tree recruitment, but also a flattening of the entire ecosystem structure. For example, because of elk and deer overbrowsing, there were fewer berry-producing shrubs, thus less habitat and food for bird and small mammal species, which led to a dramatic decrease in biodiversity (and thus ecosystem function) in Yellowstone. Now that they've reintroduced wolves, they're finding these patterns reversed, as illustrated in this lovely graphic. Say what you will, deer overpopulation really is a big problem (not just in Yellowstone, but anywhere they don't have any natural predators anymore). I don't think the hunters are necessarily citing studies when they argue this, nor am I sure that's their real and ultimate reason for hunting, but they aren't wrong about overpopulation.

Also nthing the chorus doubting the data sources for this study. I know hunting is a very visceral and obvious form of our influence on the environment, but honestly, even in the face of climate change, habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation remains the single largest human threat to all animal species, and at least as currently managed, hunters are really the least of our problems in conservation right now.
posted by dialetheia at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Bah, it's all life in the end.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2011


(Hunters in the US, I should add - I have no idea how other countries manage hunting, and I could see weaker management being a big problem).
posted by dialetheia at 9:54 AM on April 28, 2011


Sorry, one more thing - if you're interested in the actual ecology behind this sort of debate, here's a list with links to pdfs of some great papers about trophic cascade effects that have been done at my university (they even have a whole graduate program just on trophic cascades!).
posted by dialetheia at 9:59 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't really care if people hunt or not, but if it was about population control, we'd be shooting them with birth control.

In some places, we do:
But Fire Island is the success story: Its 10 percent birth rate contrasts to 35 percent at other Humane Society sites.

[snip]

But the Humane Society's labor-intensive method--which costs about $1,000 per doe for the first two years of treatment--may keep it from widespread use. A serum that lasts longer than one rutting season is in the early stages of development; if successful, it could bring down costs.
The article is from 2002. From 2009, we have this:
Biologists and ecologists have studied alternative methods for controlling deer population, like fertility control, but professors at Rutgers University, Pennsylvania State University and Cornell University said controlled hunting remains the most effective way to reduce deer population.

Contraceptives can only be effective in small, fenced-in areas where deer can be controlled, not places like the 3.4-square-mile Reservation, said Larry Katz, director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The cost per deer is also higher than using sharpshooters, he said.

“When you’re dealing with free-ranging animals that can move in and out over a large landscape, the only tool available now is hunting,” said Paul D. Curtis, a Cornell professor and extension wildlife specialist.

[snip]

Research like a 10-year study in Pennsylvania published in 2003 found a direct relationship between deer overpopulation and the loss of plant and animal diversity. In forests throughout New Jersey, deer overpopulation has largely diminished the amount of native trees that are one to five years old, Mr. Katz said.
posted by rtha at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't really care if people hunt or not, but if it was about population control, we'd be shooting them with birth control. We don't shoot deer because we don't want them to starve to death.

Hunters want to ensure sustainable and healthy animal populations so that they can continue to hunt. I don't think anyone claims that population control is an end in itself.
posted by electroboy at 10:08 AM on April 28, 2011


It's hard for me to respect guys who drive down the road with a carcass strapped to their car.

What if they strapped it to their bicycle ?


OK, but only if the bike is fixed-gear and the bullets are fair-trade.
posted by Herodios at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about DIY?
posted by electroboy at 10:28 AM on April 28, 2011


I don't like hunting. That said, I recognize that 100 years ago, we killed most of the wolves in the lower 48, and now we're up to our ears in whitetail deer. I also recognize that the sale of hunting licenses often funds other forms of parks and recreation.

I also recognize that I enjoy a tasty burger and leather shoes, and those come from dead animals, too.

So, hunting is not all bad. I think it can be managed better, as the number of pure hunting accidents will tell you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:34 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seven hunters, two game wardens, and a cow.
posted by maryr at 10:38 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I have always been a little confused who "we,, we eat everything we kill" is supposed to comfort. If somebody shot me, I think I'd actually be unhappier if I knew they also planned to eat me.

I think it's to comfort the worry between "we kill for food" and "we kill". Knowing that there are people out there who spend lots of money and time for the sole purpose of killing isn't reassuring. In my country there's an awful lot more of the latter and I'm keen to see it gone. Hunting's fine, bloodsport isn't.
posted by Jehan at 10:41 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I have always been a little confused who "we,, we eat everything we kill" is supposed to comfort. If somebody shot me, I think I'd actually be unhappier if I knew they also planned to eat me.

If you're a vegetarian for ethical reasons you may find the distinction to be pretty worthless, but a lot of those of us who eat meat do feel that hunted meat ranks a little higher on the moral scale than factory farmed meat.
posted by padraigin at 10:44 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK so these were tagged animals?

Animals previously shot (with a tranquilizer ) by a human were found to be more frequently shot by humans? Imagine that!

Also Hunters almost universally report killing tagged animals. Wolves not so much.

How were lost tagged animals accounted for?

By restricting this study to typically human hunted animals you also get a skewed result.

This is not even bad science.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 10:45 AM on April 28, 2011


I've always thought "sport hunting" with a weapon (firearm or otherwise) was totally cheating. If this is a "sport", the ground should be level -- you should have to kill your prey with your bare hands.

::Drops out of tree onto 12 point buck's back, rear naked chokes him unconscious...::
posted by LordSludge at 10:48 AM on April 28, 2011


I've always thought "sport hunting" with a weapon (firearm or otherwise) was totally cheating. If this is a "sport", the ground should be level -- you should have to kill your prey with your bare hands.


At what point in human history would you like to scroll back to with respect to other technologies? The irony of writing that on a computer is rich.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I mean, vaccines are totally unfair to bacteria and viruses. On a level playing field, they'd have a fair chance to infect our children.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2011


Oh, FFS Can't we stop bickering and agree to hate ranchers?
posted by fnerg at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but we don't claim to be engaging in "sport medicine".
posted by Pyry at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always thought "sport hunting" with a weapon (firearm or otherwise) was totally cheating. If this is a "sport", the ground should be level -- you should have to kill your prey with your bare hands.

(starts knocking sticks out of tool-using chimpanzees' hands)
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have never understood why there aren't more human hunters who go after other human hunters. If the motivation to hunt is to heroically destroy the life of something that is big and dangerous, why not go after the biggest predator of them all? What could be more sporting? And it would add a whole lot of excitement to hunting if, say, one in five didn't come back alive.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 10:55 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


My mother-in-law's cause célèbre is opposing whale hunting. I don't think she's ever even seen a whale. I don't understand why she is so obsessed with saving whales and hating Japanese people.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:55 AM on April 28, 2011


If you're a vegetarian for ethical reasons you may find the distinction to be pretty worthless

I am. I also don't especially want to be eaten. well, my friends might be allowed to have a little shin, but they've worked for it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:57 AM on April 28, 2011


I also don't especially want to be eaten.

I guess you'll have to get used to the idea, though, because (even if you're cremated) your remains will be eaten by bacteria and fungi even if you manage to avoid being eaten by mammals, birds, or arthropods. I can say with near-100% certainty that the nutrients in all of our bodies will all eventually be eaten by something else. Sorry.
posted by dialetheia at 11:04 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy, the anti-hunting bias and hyperbole in this thread almost makes me feel sympathetic toward my batshit-insane namesake from Michigan (but not really).
posted by TedW at 11:09 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have never understood why there aren't more human hunters who go after other human hunters.

It happens. Is that exciting enough for you?
posted by electroboy at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2011


FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.): "I have never understood why there aren't more human hunters who go after other human hunters."

Then they would be stooping to Dick Cheney's level. No one wants that.
posted by charred husk at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can say with near-100% certainty that the nutrients in all of our bodies will all eventually be eaten by something else. Sorry.

That's why I'm having myself cremated-- if I can't have the usable energy in my body, nobody can.
posted by Pyry at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2011


I can say with near-100% certainty that the nutrients in all of our bodies will all eventually be eaten by something else.

I do not intend to die, but, if it must happen, I will be plasticized.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2011


"I have never understood why there aren't more human hunters who go after other human hunters."

There may be something wrong with your assumptions of hunter motivation then.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 11:14 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Second, if controlling the prey population is really that important there would be a greater effort to increase the predator population.

Uh, we are the predator population. One of them anyway.
posted by Justinian at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2011


It happens. Is that exciting enough for you?

Sure, I remember this. Why is it unusual? Look, I'm not a hunter -- this doesn't excite me any more or less than slaughteing squirrels. But if I were a hunter, why wouldn't going after other hunters be the purest form of hunting?
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 11:19 AM on April 28, 2011


For a similar reason as to why cannibalism isn't the ultimate gourmet experience.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:20 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fava beans
posted by clavdivs at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2011


That's why I'm having myself cremated-- if I can't have the usable energy in my body, nobody can.

You mean we won't be able to warm ourselves around your funeral pyre some chilly wintery day?
posted by TedW at 11:23 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a similar reason as to why cannibalism isn't the ultimate gourmet experience.

I have a hard time believing that the pleasure of eating hunted flesh is the primary reason for 21st-century North American hunting.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2011


...if I were a hunter, why wouldn't going after other hunters be the purest form of hunting?

Pfft. You know how easy it is to shoot a hunter? You just lure them in with a six pack and a pin-up calendar, and boom! You got a nice trophy for your den. Like shooting fish in a barrel. No sport in it whatsoever.
posted by Floydd at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy, the anti-hunting bias and hyperbole in this thread almost makes me feel sympathetic toward my batshit-insane namesake from Michigan (but not really).

Please, no Nuge.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:34 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing that the pleasure of eating hunted flesh is the primary reason for 21st-century North American hunting.

Dude, this is just silly. The hunters I've known like to get out in the woods, hang out with their friends, and maybe get a chance to shoot something edible. You - out of ignorance, I'm assuming - put far too much emphasis on Hunting As Primal Challenge. Most hunters I've known aren't like that at all.
posted by rtha at 11:41 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really know anyone who claims to engage in "sport hunting." The idea that there are tons of people running around in the woods, practically rabid with bloodlust, their only goal to kill, kill kill ... I don't think it has much of a basis in reality. Not saying it doesn't happen but I know a lot of hunters and I've never seen it.

Most people I know who "go hunting" approach it in about the same way that other people approach fishing ... it's mostly about getting out of the house for the weekend, getting away from the wife/girlfriend (they're predominantly, although not exclusively, men), sitting around the "camp" (campsite, cabin, whatever), fart jokes, eating junk food without risk of disapproval, spending time outdoors, and only incidentally about bagging a deer. The deer provides the excuse motivation for the excursion, and a certain amount of bragging rights afterwards, but the actual act of going hunting has always seemed to me to be more about male bonding and eating unhealthy food than killing.

And as for the morality of it, I can understand condemning hunting if you're a hard-line vegetarian who doesn't eat meat at all, but if you eat grocery-store beef or pork it seems pretty hypocritical.

Personally, I'm troubled by mass-produced, factory farmed and slaughtered meat; if I had more self-control I'd probably give it up. But eating meat that was hunted, taken by a clean shot with a suitable weapon in its natural habitat? That's how meat ought to be produced, if we're going to eat it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dude, this is just silly. The hunters I've known like to get out in the woods, hang out with their friends, and maybe get a chance to shoot something edible. You - out of ignorance, I'm assuming - put far too much emphasis on Hunting As Primal Challenge. Most hunters I've known aren't like that at all.

I love to get out in the woods and hang out with my friends as much as the next guy. I'm having a really tough time understanding how wanting to "shoot something edible" elevates that to an experience where I need to bring a deadly weapon and wear blood-friendly clothes. If "edibility" was the value added that makes hunting such a passion for some people, why wouldn't they just stop at a 7-11 on their way to the woods? I'm open to learning more about the motivation for hunting, but I'm having a really hard time evaluating the nutritional angle as anything other than a really unconvincing excuse for whatever is actually going on.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2011


If "edibility" was the value added that makes hunting such a passion for some people, why wouldn't they just stop at a 7-11 on their way to the woods? I'm open to learning more about the motivation for hunting, but I'm having a really hard time evaluating the nutritional angle as anything other than a really unconvincing excuse for whatever is actually going on.

7-11 sells pheasant breasts ? Deer loins ? Rabbits ? Duck ?

Pork tastes different than beef. Or chicken. Why is it so hard to conjure that other meats may have flavors all their own as well ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:54 AM on April 28, 2011


Most people I know who "go hunting" approach it in about the same way that other people approach fishing ... it's mostly about getting out of the house for the weekend, getting away from the wife/girlfriend (they're predominantly, although not exclusively, men), sitting around the "camp" (campsite, cabin, whatever), fart jokes, eating junk food without risk of disapproval, spending time outdoors, and only incidentally about bagging a deer. The deer provides the excuse motivation for the excursion, and a certain amount of bragging rights afterwards, but the actual act of going hunting has always seemed to me to be more about male bonding and eating unhealthy food than killing.

See, that's just completely unconvincing. Replace "bagging a deer" with "getting to wear mosquito repellant" and you'll see why. The getting-to-kill-stuff part, however it's best described, has got to be more than incidental or nobody would bother to make it their excuse for having a fun time in the woods.

I get that hunting is really important to some people. Why should those people be unable to explain why? Why should I be convinced that it's just a random reason to have fun outside? Why should that be more convincing than, say, Troy McVeigh saying he was just looking for a random reason to have fun in Oklahoma City?
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2011


Troy McVeigh
Who's Troy McVeigh, and why should I care if he wants to try to have fun in Oklahoma City?
posted by Floydd at 12:04 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Threads like this one are why I don't send people I like links to Metafilter.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Personally, I'm troubled by mass-produced, factory farmed and slaughtered meat; if I had more self-control I'd probably give it up. But eating meat that was hunted, taken by a clean shot with a suitable weapon in its natural habitat? That's how meat ought to be produced, if we're going to eat it.

There are alternatives to "factory farmed" meat that don't involve the hunting of wild animals. It costs a bit more, but if you're troubled by factory farms there are options.

Pork tastes different than beef. Or chicken. Why is it so hard to conjure that other meats may have flavors all their own as well ?

Exactly - And wild boar tastes different than pork, and Kobe beef tastes different than ground chuck from the supermarket, and free range chicken tastes different than factory farmed chicken. If changing the feed and conditions animals live under can change the taste and texture of the meat, I have no doubt that the wild counterpart to certain domestic animals' meat tastes different and even superior to what my supermarket sells.

he getting-to-kill-stuff part, however it's best described, has got to be more than incidental or nobody would bother to make it their excuse for having a fun time in the woods

Ostensibly. No one I know that goes ice fishing actually cares that much about catching fish. It's about the experience, and it's a cheap vacation where you get to hang out with your buddies and drink beer all day.
posted by Hoopo at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2011


Second, if controlling the prey population is really that important there would be a greater effort to increase the predator population.

I'm not sure what you think hunting licence fees are going towards.

Troy McVeigh

Isn't he the guy that blew up the Springfield Federal Building?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2011


Timothy. Tim McVeigh.
And your "unconvincing" just means that you won't take other peoples answers at face value.

I love the outdoors.
I love food.
I love to grow the food I eat and cook.
And i like to kill and butcher the meat I eat.
When I get to combine a great long weekend in the outdoors covering 12 to 20 miles per day with acquiring the raw materials for many a great meal, I leap at the chance.
Sometimes I collect mustard greens. Once or twice a year, I might try to get some venison.

To you, Flag (Bastard . . .) that is "unconvincing. Oh well.
posted by Seamus at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love to get out in the woods and hang out with my friends as much as the next guy. I'm having a really tough time understanding how wanting to "shoot something edible" elevates that to an experience where I need to bring a deadly weapon and wear blood-friendly clothes. If "edibility" was the value added that makes hunting such a passion for some people, why wouldn't they just stop at a 7-11 on their way to the woods? I'm open to learning more about the motivation for hunting, but I'm having a really hard time evaluating the nutritional angle as anything other than a really unconvincing excuse for whatever is actually going on.

Ahh, yes. Because going to 7-11 and grabbing some beef jerky is vastly superior to going into the woods and shooting a deer. When I buy that delicious jerky, I can rest assured that it was made from a steer that was hand-fed from birth, castrated using anesthesia in a sterile veterinary clinic, coddled until it was two years of age, raised without antibiotics and fed only organic food while being left free-range to play with the other steers, then taken to the local abattoir to be put to death humanely.

As in all things, when it comes to hunting, every subject in the above thread boils down to "some do, some don't." Do people go hunting to only to get meat? Do people go hunting to satisfy the macho urge to be a hunter? Do people go hunting simply to kill? Do people have to compensate for their really small penises?

Some do, some don't.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.): "Why should those people be unable to explain why?
Lots of reasons have been listed. However...

Why should I be convinced that it's just a random reason to have fun outside? Why should that be more convincing than, say, Troy McVeigh saying he was just looking for a random reason to have fun in Oklahoma City?"

Why should I be convinced that you're not just a disingenuous troll?
posted by charred husk at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2011


I'm having a really tough time understanding how wanting to "shoot something edible" elevates that to an experience where I need to bring a deadly weapon and wear blood-friendly clothes.

No, what you're having a really tough time understanding is that other people are different from you and it doesn't mean they're wrong.
posted by rocket88 at 12:18 PM on April 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


The getting-to-kill-stuff part, however it's best described, has got to be more than incidental or nobody would bother to make it their excuse for having a fun time in the woods.

For some people it is, and even for those people, none except the tiniest (and most sociopathic) minority are doing it because BIG HUNTER PRIMAL EXPERIENCE and therefore HUNTING MAN WOULD BE MOST CHALLENGING.

You seem to easily compartmentalize things like being in the woods/with your friends/food/hunting, as if each thing must be entirely separate from all the other things, but I think a lot of people just don't work that way. For instance, I enjoy birding, hiking, cooking outdoors, and camping. I could just set up my tent in my backyard and grill my cooler full of burgers over the gas grill, and use my binos to look at the starlings nesting in the eaves of my house. But that is a very different kind of "camping", even though it includes a lot of the same stuff as traditional out-in-the-wild camping.

When I lived in Maine, I used to go fishing with a guy I worked with. He had a boat he had traded an old car for. The boat didn't leak (much), but the retractable keel was in a permanently not-useful position - the boat preferred to go sideways. So we'd just drift around the harbor with lines in the water and a cooler of snacks and beer. We never caught anything, but we always baited our hooks and put them over the side, because doing that made the trip a different thing from just drifting around the harbor eating snacks and not fishing. You can argue all you want that the experience would be the same either way, but I'm telling you that it isn't.
posted by rtha at 12:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


At what point in human history would you like to scroll back to with respect to other technologies? The irony of writing that on a computer is rich.

If the intent is food gathering or population control, then sure use the most effective tool for the job. If this is a sport, then be fair and either give the deer a rifle or go bare handed and let's see who wins. There's just not a lot of "sport" in besting your opponent from half a mile away.
posted by LordSludge at 12:22 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love to get out in the woods and hang out with my friends as much as the next guy. I'm having a really tough time understanding how wanting to "shoot something edible" elevates that to an experience where I need to bring a deadly weapon and wear blood-friendly clothes. If "edibility" was the value added that makes hunting such a passion for some people, why wouldn't they just stop at a 7-11 on their way to the woods? I'm open to learning more about the motivation for hunting, but I'm having a really hard time evaluating the nutritional angle as anything other than a really unconvincing excuse for whatever is actually going on.

I started hunting because I was upset with the way meat in this country is produced in a way that is inhumane, bad for the environment, and bad nutritionally. The jerky I can buy in 711 is from a cow jacked up on antibiotics, fed things it can't digest so it gets fat, and confined for the last months of its life. So maybe I should have become a vegan? I did that, but wanted to include meat in my diet because I encountered some fairly serious health problems as a vegan.

Grass-fed local meat is rather expensive and even that is hard to source. Often I'll find a perfectly nice farm and then find out that the slaughterhouse they use sucks. Hunting allows me to guarantee the animal is totally free range and didn't eat anything like distiller's grain. A good shot = a very humane kill.

I would definitely recommend the blog of Jackson Landers who feeds his family this way. I also have some relatives who are very poor and mostly unemployed who hunt for their meat. For someone with lots of time and no money, it's the best way to get free-range organic meat. Not to mention the leather, which I've used to make clothing.

I also have a farm in my family and our orchard was being totally stripped by deer every year. Learning how to hunt from Jackson Landers has really improved my ability to manage the orchard without expensive and habitat destroying electric fences and poisons.

I also recommend the book Heart & Blood by anthropologist Richard K. Nelson, which is a fantastic well-written exploration of the issue from both sides.
posted by melissam at 12:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


If you can't tell that I acknowledge that other people are different from me, I don't know how to help you. I'm just amused that all you hunters act as if it's merely accidental that you find yourselves with lethal weapons and dead animals on your hands while you're out enjoying the great outdoors.

It's kind of obvious that the death part is central to the experience.

Is every one of you hunters too uncomfortable to talk about that?
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2011


Why should I be convinced that you're not just a disingenuous troll?
Guess that answers that question.
posted by Floydd at 12:29 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's kind of obvious that the death part is central to the experience.

As a forester and a farmer (on hiatus) and a human being, it's central to most of my experiences. As an eater, a consumer...I know that something has to die for me to eat, whether it's the deer eating my apples (all apple farmers kill deer and numerous other animals), the voles in the fields I plough, or the laying hens after their season is over.

Death isn't fun or joyful, but I don't shield myself from it since I harvest so much of my own food. Someday I hope to be buried myself on my land so that I can be part of the cycle.
posted by melissam at 12:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


OK, I get that. I guess I should have said the killing part.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2011


I don't hunt anymore. As a "gun guy" this surprises a lot of people who meet me because if you are a person with a number of firearms and bows, and you live in Wisconsin, you are almost always going to be some kind of hunter.

But many years ago, a friend of mine, whose family owned a moderately sized campground in the middle of the state, invited me up to do a spot of small game hunting. See, the problem is that in the relatively protected campground, with all the food and trash that people left, the small animal population was absolutely out of control. Squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, rabbits, etc. They were everywhere, and quickly becoming a nuisance. So one weekend, we went through and did what we could to depopulate the small game numbers.

And in that weekend, I shot and killed probably 300 animals. We cleaned and dressed them, and had a giant stew, just so it didn't go to waste, but standing there, looking at the tables all pulled together covered in our successes, I realized that I was very good at killing things, and I imagine that over a lifetime, there is probably a number of animals that any given hunter can be expected to take. I'd reached mine in about three days.

So I quit hunting, kept up with the shooting and archery because it was a fun hobby, and got my urge to stalk prey filled when I discovered that a nice DSLR fitted with some long glass gave me the exact same thrill, without having to actually bring down an animal.

So yeah, I don't hunt. I don't criticize those that do, because I'm well aware of how exhilarating it can be, but I've proven that I'm good at it, and I don't need to go any further with that hobby. Plus, as I've gotten older, I've kind of gotten to like seeing foxes playing in my back yard, or raccoons running through my culvert, and the urge to shoot them just evaporated at some point.

The urge to chase down and hug... that remains.

That being said, after having five of my cars hit by deer (note, "hit by deer" not, "I hit five deers") I'm willing to concede that if I ever met one of the fuckers in a dark alley, I'd probably punch it in the head, just for revenge...

posted by quin at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm just amused that all you hunters act as if it's merely accidental that you find yourselves with lethal weapons and dead animals on your hands while you're out enjoying the great outdoors.

No one has said that. Also, data point: I am not a hunter, so I can't answer firsthand your entirely reasonable, unbiased, no-assumptions-or-insults-here questions put to people who hunt.
posted by rtha at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dude, this is just silly. The hunters I've known like to get out in the woods, hang out with their friends, and maybe get a chance to shoot something edible.


Itzda seckon' weeka deer-camp and oll da guys are here,
We drink, play cards, an shoot da bull but never shoot no deer,
Da olly time we leave da camp is when we go for beer,
Da seckon' weeka deer-camp's da greatest time a yeer.

-- Da Yoopers
posted by Herodios at 12:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


What was your point--or question--again, FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.)?

Are you suggesting that some hunters are hunting for their own enjoyment? That they enjoy hunting?

Uh, yeah. Duh.

Are you suggesting it's wrong to enjoy hunting?

Really, what's your deal?
posted by General Tonic at 12:41 PM on April 28, 2011


It's kind of obvious that the death part is central to the experience.

I hunt, big shock I'm sure based on my prior comments here, but for the majority of my life I have gone through all the motions, worn the "uniform", polished and prepped the gear (especially the deadly weapon), stalked my prey until I get a clean shot, taken aim, regulated my breathing, gently begun to squeeze the trigger, and then unclenched my hand, gone back to the cabin and had a beer. I picked back up the actual killing part after I had kids and decided to suppliment our family diet with game, but for the longest part of my years doing this, the killing part hasn't even been part of the act. In fact, I really don't much like killing the animals. I like seeing them. I enjoy the off season managing my land to maximise the health and happiness of the animals that range there (including the predators which I do not hunt). I like shooting, it's fun, really. I love the alone time I get being quiet in the woods. I like using my brain to divise ways read the woods and to outsmart my prey in their own habitat and with their superiour sensory organs. But, having to get my hands and clothes all nasty with offal and blood, is just not something I consider fun. Having to drag a dead 150 lb. animal up a West Virginia mountain is not really pleasant (particularly when covered in rapidly drying offal and blood).

The man that taught me to hunt as a kid had a rig I could never afford. He had a fancy camera custom mounted on a rifle stock, with the trigger as, well, the trigger and a scope and everything. He'd hunt fantastic trophies, get the perfect shot and snap photos that he could display and show off. Now, I don't hunt trophies, you can't eat trophies, I only take a couple of does a season, but if I were more into the trophies, I think that would be the rig I would want.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:47 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dude, this is just silly. The hunters I've known like to get out in the woods, hang out with their friends, and maybe get a chance to shoot something edible. You - out of ignorance, I'm assuming - put far too much emphasis on Hunting As Primal Challenge. Most hunters I've known aren't like that at all.

I am from a rather rural area in the last largely-rural state on the northern East Coast. I know hunters. I've been to hunters' breakfasts at the AmVets hall. I had to wear a goddamn orange knit cap to walk to the school bus. My six closest neighbors growing up? Five of them were hunters, and the sixth I'm not sure about.

I can't speak of every hunter, but when I tell you that I have a negative opinion of hunters it's not some knee-jerk opinion pulled directly from novels, movies and my grubby Birkenstocks. It's an opinion gleaned from literally hundreds of first-hand examples.

My parents posted their land because laws in my home state give you the right to hunt on private property unless you are specifically told that you can't. Hunters so resented the exercising of property rights that on many, many occasions they shot the signs. Slugs, buckshot. And ironically, I've been derisively called a "communist" by a guy in a Bucks Unlimited chamois shirt.

I have been told by hunters that I am weak for refusing their offers to participate. "Don't have the stomach for killing, huh?" and words to that effect, insinuating that my position is effeminate. A neighbor once told my father when I was 10 or 11 that teaching me to hunt would ensure that I did not grow up to be a homosexual.

Some hunters may be environmentalists, many are flagrant litterers. I bet that I could lead you to a couple of hollows in the woods where I grew up that contain discarded cigarette packs and discarded beer cans from several seasons ago.

It is not uncommon where I grew up for people to put the plow on their pickup truck in October, long before the threat of snow. This is because when your plow is equipped, you can intentionally hit a deer and not damage your truck. And these same people espouse the sporting aspect of hunting.

A hunter once attempted to bribe me to get a buck permit (I being one of the few people he knew who did not have one) so that he might get my tag and "legitimize" a deer that he had taken illegally. He had a mother and a sister who didn't hunt, so I doubt that there was only one "extra."

This is getting tedious, but I've got more examples of the mentality of hunters that I have known if you want them. I could call my parents and perhaps double any list I can make on my own.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:53 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, what's your deal?

Can't believe I missed that FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) was a troll. It was obvious. Thread officially relegated to Rule 14, and I'm out.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:56 PM on April 28, 2011


Hunters are just like anyone else - some are good, some aren't, some are conscientious and empathetic, some are not. Hunting does have a place in this world.

But it absolutely doesn't follow that man is a predator. Man makes tools and plays at being a predator. He has no truly symbiotic relationship with any particular prey and doesn't hunt with the end goal being a healthy prey population.

Like it or not, that's a big difference.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:10 PM on April 28, 2011


A neighbor once told my father when I was 10 or 11 that teaching me to hunt would ensure that I did not grow up to be a homosexual.

Mayor Curley is Bart Simpson?
posted by Hoopo at 1:15 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benny Andajetz: "Hunters are just like anyone else - some are good, some aren't, some are conscientious and empathetic, some are not. "

That's kind of the problem we always have here on MetaFilter when discussion a group of people. "They're not ALL like that" or "Those are just bad apples." My father-in-law would probably sink into despair if his hunting community was anything like the one Mayor Curley describes. Who's actually representative of hunting? Him or the assholes? Prediction: I don't think we'll sort it out in this thread.

He has no truly symbiotic relationship with any particular prey and doesn't hunt with the end goal being a healthy prey population.

I think the latter with a little bit of the former being sprinkled in is the idealized version of the great liberal MetaFilter hunter. Like most ideals, it probably not as common as we would like.
posted by charred husk at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2011


That litany of wrongs indicting hunters is pathetic even by your degraded standards, Mayor Curley. You got called names and your parents' signs got shot? Boo-hoo, must mean all hunters are cretins.
posted by generalist at 1:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am from a rather rural area in the last largely-rural state on the northern East Coast.

It's the same state where I got to know most of the people I know who hunt. Clearly, our samples were different. I mean, I can't guarantee that none of the guys I knew never littered or took the occasional deer out of season, but none of them were the jacked-up assholes that you were forced to endure, either.
posted by rtha at 1:27 PM on April 28, 2011


Are we talking about hunting or hunters?

I think they may be two different things. Unless the argument is that being an ass is a recognized and required part of hunting. I would hope for a cite on that.

Most every hunter I know works hard to encourage and promote ethical and respectful hunting. Obviously there are asses in every group but they don't define the activity.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 1:33 PM on April 28, 2011


So long as the deer are feeding on my orchard, garden, and landscaping, I feel no shame in feeding on them.
posted by Blackanvil at 1:38 PM on April 28, 2011


>
A neighbor once told my father when I was 10 or 11 that teaching me to hunt would ensure that I did not grow up to be a homosexual.

Mayor Curley is Bart Simpson?


You can only take that analogy so far because if the episode were set in my home town it would have played out very differently:

scene one: Flamboyant gay man moves to town.

scene two: grumbling townspeople.

scene three: three dudes with beards and flannel shirts exit the woods late at night, toss shovels into the back of their pickup, driver puts rifle back on rear-window gun rack. They drive off.

credits
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:38 PM on April 28, 2011


Clearly, our samples were different. I mean, I can't guarantee that none of the guys I knew never littered or took the occasional deer out of season, but none of them were the jacked-up assholes that you were forced to endure, either.

Which county do you live in: York or Cumberland?
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:42 PM on April 28, 2011


That link doesn't support your statement.
posted by electroboy at 8:35 AM on April 28 [+] [!]

That link does in fact support my statement. Thanks for shitting in an already crappy thread, though, it's really appreciated. Now excuse me while I eat this extinct HAMBURGER.
posted by mek at 1:47 PM on April 28, 2011


Which county do you live in: York or Cumberland?

I don't live there anymore, but it was Knox and Waldo. Or is that still not real enough Maine for you? Would you feel more able to believe me if I said Aroostook? Or are authentic Maine hunters only allowed to match your experience of said hunters? (The guys I knew were all born-and-bred in Maine, and more than one was from been-there-forever families. I apologize beforehand if the experiences I report are insufficiently authentic for you.)
posted by rtha at 1:59 PM on April 28, 2011


That link does in fact support my statement.

So, in a story about hunting in North America you contend that a link about Siberian tigers is relevant?
posted by electroboy at 2:02 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want to learn about some of the many, many species that North Americans have hunted to extinction, check out Farley Mowat's Sea of Slaughter.
posted by mek at 2:20 PM on April 28, 2011


Nice try, mek, but Farley Mowatt wrote that book 10,089 years ago so it doesn't count, and neither do bison or the eastern cougar or the Florida panther or the Cascade mountain wolf or the eastern elk or Merriam's elk, so his point still stands.
posted by Hoopo at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't live there anymore, but it was Knox and Waldo. Or is that still not real enough Maine for you?

That couldn't get more Maine if you told me by getting drunk on Allen's and running a snowmobile over my foot. I took a gamble and lost.

Or are authentic Maine hunters only allowed to match your experience of said hunters?

No but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't mystified by your 180-degree opposite experience. But I suspect our ideas of what makes one a Vulgarian are different. And that you never got to see a drunk in an orange vest get hauled away by the country sheriff for beating his dog.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:18 PM on April 28, 2011


Well, different people are different. I'm sure that the guys I knew were far from being angels in a lot of ways.
posted by rtha at 3:30 PM on April 28, 2011


If you're a vegetarian for ethical reasons you may find the distinction to be pretty worthless, but a lot of those of us who eat meat do feel that hunted meat ranks a little higher on the moral scale than factory farmed meat.

Even when I was a vegetarian I agreed with that statement. Whats better --- living your life in an overcrowded, filthy factory farm and then being killed for food; or living your life in the woods and being killed for food? Seems obvious to me.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2011


Sorry, just cleaning off my boar spear here. I was carpooling back on a superhighway, because the side roads are flooded, enjoying some tuna, looking at all the massive SUVs with one person driving into the big city, looking out at all the beautiful new mall developments, and I'm thinking, oh damn those hunters who rely on conserved habitats for killing all the animals.

Not you, per se, but I can tell you about some hunters. But don't take my word for it.

I know some vegetarians who engage in genocide. But don't take my word for it.

I started hunting because I was upset with the way meat in this country is produced in a way that is inhumane, bad for the environment, and bad nutritionally. The jerky I can buy in 711 is from a cow jacked up on antibiotics, fed things it can't digest so it gets fat, and confined for the last months of its life.

That's just crazy talk. You're just crazy to kill things my crazy, crazy friend.

"If "edibility" was the value added that makes hunting such a passion for some people, why wouldn't they just stop at a 7-11 on their way to the woods? "

Precisely because they do want to be as much a part of their natural environment as they can be. The concept is to honor the animal and respect your mutual co-dependence.
There's an old story (from many sources) but Nasreddin is famous for it.
He says to a crowd that even the least of creatures can do important things. As an example he says "A fish saved my life once."
Someone asks "How is that possible?"
Nasreddin says "I ate him."

We don't recognize that our food is borrowed. We have that adolescent desire for permanence that Astro Zombie (et.al) joke about.
We are made purposely heedless of taking even a moment to understand what it is we have taken and callously ignore what it is we are a part of.

7-11 is far more of a blight on the earth and a disregard to the rights other creatures have to the land than hunting could possibly be. The streets they sit on, all named after natural things, as though living on "Oak Street" could nourish us the way a living forest could.

I've met many hunters. I've met many, many, many people living in cities, making money, doing all the everyday things. The real problem tends to be the conflation of the two attitudes. As though it was alright to bring the same complete and utter disregard for the very environment that sustains them into an act in an environment that is manifestly sustaining them.

They're victims of advertising and commodification of land use and rights denial like everyone else in the U.S.

But for every 'macho hunter' there are millions of others buying packaged meat, walking on the tiled floors of their rapacious 'super' market (or superWal-Mart, or whatever), sucking down Diet Coke in plastic bottles and eating billions and billions of burgers at McDonalds who don't give a second thought to what's died, displaced and destroyed so they can have a few minutes of pointless gratification.

Hell, it would do almost anyone some good to go into the woods on a freezing cold morning and sit for a couple of hours to refurbish their attention spans from thinking they can have anything they want instantly and remind them just how fragile and dependent their lives are on nature. But most people I know can't go 20 minutes without their phones.

"But if I were a hunter, why wouldn't going after other hunters be the purest form of hunting?"

People do this in conflict.

Perhaps I've missed it, I'm surprised no one has brought up the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.
Why would hunters, who depend on natural habitats to hunt, destroy that habitat?
They're the largest private contributors to conservation. They contribute $4.7 million each day for conservation through fees and taxes. Last I heard Pittman-Robertson generated over $700 million a year alone.
Doesn't matter how much of an asshole any particular hunter(s) are, they buy gear, they help out conservation efforts whether they like it or not.

In what possible philosophy is it morally worse to eat an animal because you killed it yourself, but perfectly permissible to eradicate its habitat and force mass starvations to expand commercial agriculture and grow feed for animals you herd, pen, drug, destroy, chemically saturate, and sucker other people into eating?

Why don't we hunt other hunters?
Hey, why aren't you putting condoms on people and trying to stop people from paving the whole world?
Oh, right, gotta have somewhere to ride the bike/drive the Prius.
Living in a city forcing expanding support infrastructure isn't hurting anything?
Well, not directly. Well, not deliberately. Well, not knowingly deliberately anyway.

And perhaps it's the deliberate nature of the act of hunting that offends most people.

(a comment from the piece)Evolution did not intend for man to create guns, or to harness the power of chemistry in aid of killing animals

*chuckle*
posted by Smedleyman at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


neither do bison or the eastern cougar or the Florida panther or the Cascade mountain wolf or the eastern elk or Merriam's elk, so his point still stands.

And no mention of the conservation, restoration and preservation efforts of groups like Ducks Unlimited.

Hunters are all bad, all the time, forever the end because there aren't any more Dodos.

I have never met any hunter who was interested in hunting anything to extinction - even the douchebags want their sons to hunt - although yeah, the tragedy of the commons will prevail. Its how it goes.

That's why we have DNR's and License Fees and Regulations and Game Wardens; you know, to mediate against those effects.

I'm not going to pretend that those agencies and groups are perfect, but America hasn't killed off a species due solely to overhunting in roughly 100 years. If we don't learn to manage our interaction with wildlife, then the wildlife will go away because humans sure as fuck won't and we've got the guns.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2011


If the intent is food gathering or population control, then sure use the most effective tool for the job. If this is a sport, then be fair and either give the deer a rifle or go bare handed and let's see who wins. There's just not a lot of "sport" in besting your opponent from half a mile away.

I am guessing you don't shoot long range rifles much. Actually hitting a deer (in the vitals especially) from half a mile is pretty damn impressive really. That is 880 yards. I personally won't take a shot at a deer from more than 300 yards, with a bipod and time to catch my breath. Deer hunting (speaking as someone who hunts in the western US) is not a leisure activity. It is damn hard work and it takes real skill and discipline to fill your tag in most of the western states (at least if you are not on a game ranch with a guide). I would say it is at least as difficult to hit a deer at 880 yards as it would be do jump out of deer and kill one with your hands(not the same skills, mind you, just on the same difficulty level).
posted by bartonlong at 4:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of the extinct animals like the eastern cougar were commercially hunted.

Of course, habitat destruction, deforestation, reduction of the deer population, conflicting land uses, diseases from human waste and parasites from domestic animals probably had something to do with it as well.

According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation while in the 1920s "whitetail deer populations had declined to approximately 300,000, wild turkey to fewer than 30,000, pronghorn antelope to only 25,000 and North American elk to 50,000; the wood duck was nearly extinct and there were fewer than 500 bison. Today, there are more than 20 million whitetail deer, more than 4 million turkeys (with populations in every state but Alaska) and more than 1 million antelope and elk. Wood ducks, numbering over 3 million, are the most common breeding waterfowl in the US, and bison number 350,000."

By conserving habitat for game animals, hunters benefit non-game wildlife as well.
Not that this matters. It's yucky to shoot them and it requires no skill to wield a firearm.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:34 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to pretend that those agencies and groups are perfect, but America hasn't killed off a species due solely to overhunting in roughly 100 years.

Arguably no species ever dues due solely to overhunting, in that not every single specimen is killed by a hunter. That's a mighty low bar! Even in the case of the passenger pigeon, deforestation played a huge role in its extinction... though all the colonial birds were particularly low-hanging fruit for hunters, they were also highly dependent on old growth forest. But you're right in that this and associated extinctions (heath hen, great auk, etc) were a wake-up call, and the birth of modern environmentalism.
posted by mek at 4:50 PM on April 28, 2011


Smedleyman, I'm a Prius-driving, city-living hunter. (The way to catch shit from all sides.)

Not that I disagree with you.
posted by Seamus at 6:17 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most hunters I know just end up with bad hangovers and no deer--its thinly veiled excuse to get out of the house. However, getting a white-tail through your windshield is a downer and its a safe bet cars get more deer than hunters in NY.
posted by ironbob at 6:27 PM on April 28, 2011


For all the people saying this is a sport and we should be "fair" and fight even handedly. Few hunters view it as a sport and those that do often view it as other more practical things too (a means to get some good meat). Is killing an animal with your bare hands humane? Humans are better than that. Human cognitive capacity is immensely larger than that of deer, there is no way to be "fair."
posted by melissam at 6:39 PM on April 28, 2011


Well, also to make it fair, you need to hobble the deer and sand off its hooves and horns.
You know, to make it "sporting".
posted by Seamus at 7:02 PM on April 28, 2011


I'm a Prius-driving, city-living hunter.
And I'm hooked into a large infrastructure of power, mined copper and plastic in order to be able to type this. I don't mean to come off as holier than thou. We're pretty much all getting hosed.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:57 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


That litany of wrongs indicting hunters is pathetic even by your degraded standards, Mayor Curley. You got called names and your parents' signs got shot? Boo-hoo, must mean all hunters are cretins

Of course, my comment also covers hypocrisy regarding sporting and conservation, illegal poaching and homophobia and you just glossed over all that. Or those sorts of things are cool with you. So you're actually making me feel pretty smug.

As to my "degraded standards," I don't know what to say except "sorry I made you swallow your chaw, Bubba." Maybe you feel like I'm characterizing you or your friends or family or something. Well, guess what? Even if you think my charges are pathetic, anyone who kills for personal enjoyment is a fucking troglodyte.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:16 PM on April 28, 2011


I'm a Prius-driving, city-living hunter. (The way to catch shit from all sides.)

We should start a club, Seamus.
posted by electroboy at 6:40 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know "fucking troglodytes". Believe me, I grew up in rural Alabama and Tennessee, so I can introduce you to some real class acts. Some of them hunt. Some of them hunt in the ways that some folks here apparently think all hunters act, killing indiscriminately and with no regard for saftey, the law, the environment, or anything really. Those people are truly assholes. I'm sorry you encountered some of them Mayor Curley. I'm also sorry that you got the impression that their reckless, selfish, prickish behavior is the norm. It is not, and if you were ever inclined to find out (though I understand why you wouldn't be so inclined) you would see that there are more than a just handful of hunters for whom their behavior is just as abhorrent.

We should start a club, Seamus.

We can have a meet up at my cabin. You all can help me ween the local fauna off invasive exotics.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:55 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you want to learn about some of the many, many species that North Americans have hunted to extinction, check out Farley Mowat's Sea of Slaughter.

Mowat himself admits that he "doesn't let the facts get in the way of the truth".
posted by electroboy at 7:21 AM on April 29, 2011


Those people are truly assholes. I'm sorry you encountered some of them Mayor Curley. I'm also sorry that you got the impression that their reckless, selfish, prickish behavior is the norm.

The conciliatory tone of your comment makes me feel guilty about being so broad with my brush. At least where I come from, I do think it's "the norm" if we're thinking "applying to most of the people within this group." But it's not all of them. And it's not a very broad sample size--my comments apply to the majority of hunters I knew growing up, but not all of them; and my sample set includes almost exclusively people that in my community, beyond behavior so atrocious that it made the news. (and admittedly it's colored by "hippie liberals who moved to an insular town versus insular, conservative locals.")

So I'm not qualified to apply it to people everywhere, and wrong to include the small subset of perfectly decent people I knew growing up who hunt. I know in the abstract why stereotyping is bad, but I don't always force myself to apply that knowledge in practice. My apologies!
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:51 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mayor Curley, you might find the new breed of Ivy League Urban Hipster Locavore hunters even more annoying...

"Would you like to try my venison pate? It's an old French recipe that takes 12 hours of hand churning to make. Don't worry, the deer frolicked in the woods before I shot it with my antique Civil War muzzle loader."

"I biked on my fixie to the forest preserve to hunt and broke down my deer on the spot so it could fit on the bike. No fossil fuel was consumed to bring you this meat!" (someone I know actually did this!)

"You mean this buffalo plaid coat I bought at Urban Outfiters isn't a good color to hunt in? No wonder I never see deer, but camo is so declasse."

To the roadside deer processor "Can you use this artisan Celtic sea salt in the sausages you make? I don't want to consume any MSG, as it gives me just awful headaches."
posted by melissam at 8:26 AM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


It is not, and if you were ever inclined to find out (though I understand why you wouldn't be so inclined) you would see that there are more than a just handful of hunters for whom their behavior is just as abhorrent.

I think the ultimate problem that some in this thread is not that these people exist, but rather that our society and the law not only tolerates their behaviour but occassionally even exalts it. We need a new respect for hunting which includes recognition of the inherent responsibilities we undertake when we choose to kill another animal.
posted by mek at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2011


We need a new respect for hunting which includes recognition of the inherent responsibilities we undertake when we choose to kill another animal.

The premise being that hunters have no respect for the animals they kill. In my experience, this is not the case at all.
posted by electroboy at 1:55 PM on April 29, 2011


No, I was replying to 10th Regiment's acknowledgement that there are some bad apples; in this respect the circles our conversation here has been going in parallels a typical "bad cop" Mefi thread. A couple bad apples (be it troglodytes, Palin, whatever) poison the well for the entire public perception of hunting, and everyone retreats to sweeping generalizations. This binary politics impairs our ability to argue for responsible hunting programs which encourage, rather than discourage, healthy animal populations. You don't have to tell me that there are responsible hunters which are unfairly treated because of these bad apples; I hunt, too. In Canada there are plenty of dumb laws on the books now precisely because of irresponsible behaviour (perceived or real) by these bad apples.

It's all the more reason I am opposed to allowing "fucking troglodytes" to do things like aerial wolf gunning. It's disgusting, it's unscientific, and it ought to be illegal. Hunters need to draw the line and say "No, trophy hunting for predators is not okay." Stuff like that, which is pure machismo that is counterproductive to everyone's interests, warps the public perception of what can be a highly responsible activity, and bogs us down in "ahhh clubbing baby seals!" hyperbole instead of scientifically discussing ways of dealing with overpopulation (which is in many cases actually caused by predator culling, whoops).
posted by mek at 2:17 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll add that there are no criticisms specific to Sea of Slaughter that I am aware of - it is widely considered a well-researched and cited work of nonfiction. Your criticisms of Mowat are specific to novels written decades earlier, which I'm guessing you cribbed off his wikipedia article without reading too deeply. If I'm wrong and someone has debunked Sea of Slaughter, please link it as I'd like to know.
posted by mek at 2:27 PM on April 29, 2011


[Deleted some back-and-forth. Please take that particular conversation to memail if you must continue it. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 3:39 PM on April 29, 2011


Man, this is weird, having a new mod.
posted by ryanrs at 4:29 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


[Tell me about it, man. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:38 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple bad apples (be it troglodytes, Palin, whatever) poison the well for the entire public perception of hunting, and everyone retreats to sweeping generalizations.

Y'know, the weird thing is there's this sort of faulty memetic replication at work.
I am pretty much the poster boy for rugged individualist tougher than nails hunter type outdoorsman. And there's like this weird area where people sort of want to be part of that.
I've touched on this before. The dichotomy between being and acting and the divide between masculinity and false or hyper-masculinity. I don't particularly equate hunting with being male. I plan to teach my daughter how to shoot and hunt (and change spark plugs, fight, ride a motorcycle (thinking about a custom t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this the dick fell off")) so much like all else firearm, it's sort of a utilitarian, 'natural' for lack of a better word, thing for me.
But it seems like many of the 'troglodytes' (and I object to that word only because 'primitive' does not denote what I take to be the intended meaning as 'stupid and perverted') do pervert the source of the thing and parade around like clowns acting like what they think hunting should be.

Actually two things come to mind. One, I got a doubled edged razor a bit back.
The googleplex head shavers are a pain and the tv hype was driving me goofy (and if I recall there's a very old MAD magazine article from 20 years ago my brother had that made fun of how crazy multiple blade heads were getting even then). So I got one. I'm talking to someone about it and they think it's great I've got one too and they ask what kind of shaving cream I use.
"Barbasol"
Suddenly I'm Charles Manson because I don't have a beaver brush and whatever.

Two. Talking to a 'conservative' friend of mine (I'm thinking I'm such a throwback I'm a Lincoln conservative, y'know, not acting through passion and ill temper. Not sure what the hell these people are) about drilling in Alaska (I hunt up there sometimes) and we talked about drilling. He said "wouldn't you like to hunt out there?"
I said "No, I think we should have some preserved land that is pristine wilderness."
He said "Why?"

How do you really address that? Where do you start? Perhaps it's too self-evident to me to defend as a point.
Everything has to be FOR something. It can't just exist as an inherent good in and of itself. (Probably why our 'natural' rights are taking such a beating lately).

And so the act of hunting becomes a servitor of gun politics, sexual (anti-homosexual) politics and everything else.
But that's not at all what it's about, really.
There's a good scene in the Deer Hunter where DeNiro explains to a 'hunter' "This is this. It's not something else."

And it is. It's not about the nicer rifle, being pallys, all the other bullshit.

And I agree, there are some people who pervert that. But many hunters have a very low tolerance for horseplay, and if they don't, they should because that b.s. can wind up killing them.

I suppose the mouth breather types don't bother me as much as Mayor Curley (et.al) because I've seen that kind of self-eliminating Darwinism in action.
Those people might seem like they prosper. But look at the individuals not the group. Take a double handful of fightin' drinkin' shootin' goons and while their numbers might remain the same over time the individuals fall out through self-inflicted gunshots, bad livers and accidents (or 'accidents').
posted by Smedleyman at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I happened to be reading Phillip Tome's memoir of his life as a pioneer and professional hunter in early 1800s Western Pennsylvania, Pioneer Life or Thirty Years a Hunter, over the weekend and I came upon this passage that I thought fit this thread well:

With a true hunter it is not the destruction of life which affords the pleasure of the chase; it is the excitement attendant upon the very uncertainty of it which induces men even to leave luxurious homes and expose themselves to the hardships and perils of the wilderness. Even when, after a weary chase, the game is brought down, he cannot, after the first thrill of triumph, look without a pang of remorse, upon the form which was so beautifully adapted to its situation, and which his hand has reduced to a mere lump of flesh. But with us, who made our homes in the wilderness, there was a stronger motive than love of excitement for seeking out and destroying the denizens of the forest. We did it in obedience to the primal law of nature: for the subsistence or defence of ourselves and those whom we are bound by the ties of nature to support and efend. When neither of these demanded the destruction of an animal, I never felt any desire to harm it.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:25 AM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


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