Friday, November 30, 2012

The Guns of November

Someone is shooting the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. On hearing this, my first thought was "Where is Sarah Palin these days?" After taking a moment to reflect on my wittiness, my second thought was "Why would anyone be doing this?" Over the past few months, carcasses of dolphins have been showing up on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. I can't imagine what pleasure anyone could be getting out of this. Why would anyone kill for pleasure? This is just another thing on my long list of things that I don't understand .. the killing of a beautiful creature, seemingly, for pleasure.

While on vacation on the coast of Georgia I was boarding a gambling boat when an employee of the casino said something very stupid about my home state. I mentioned that we were from Vermont and the person collecting tickets looked at me suspiciously and said, "Guns are illegal in Vermont!" I didn't know what to say. If I weren't so surprised I might have said, "Then what the heck are all those explosions in the woods behind my house every November?" Of course, guns are legal in Vermont.  Hunting is very much a part of the culture here. When I google gun ownership by state, it seems that Vermont is in the middle of the pack, somewhere around 20th highest percentage, around 42% of households have guns. So, that guy in Georgia, I am guessing he is just an idiot that watches Fox News. At least, that's how I like to think of him.

Hunting is something that has always bothered me, not because I have any moral objections, mostly because I just don't understand it. I understand the idea of communing with nature, but I get that in my kayak or while out hiking ... without hunting. I understand the excitement of the hunt, but you could get that with a camera as well as a gun. I don't object to eating meat. I am a carnivore. I've tried vegetarianism for a few months and I was not happy. I recently heard Mr. Spock say in an old episode of the original Star Trek, "we all feed on death, even vegetarians." That sums up my "logical" approach to any moral culinary thoughts I might have. I think of the meat I eat as being slaughtered by someone who is doing their job, not someone who is enjoying it. What I don't get about hunting is the killing, I would hunt if I had to, if I needed the meat, but I can't imagine enjoying killing the creature. I know several hunters ... people I respect, people I like and some of them, I love, but there is always a huge divide between when this subject comes up. When I see a deer in my yard, I look on it in awe. They look on and wonder where their gun is.  That is a wide chasm.

While many people I know are hunters, I know many people who are adamantly anti-hunting. I assume that there is something evolutionary going here. Are some people hardwired to hunt while others are not? I don't know the answer to this. I hope most of the rage against hunting, is against the irresponsible hunter (the dolphin shooters). As an environmentalist, I find the rage to be counterproductive. The environmental movement should embrace hunting. If you want to save a mountain from mining or clear cutting, introduce a group of hunters into the mix and you will see conservation in action. These guys (and most of them are guys) love nature, they just go about it differently than I do. Provided that they follow the rules set forth by their local game warden, it might even be good for region. Most areas in North America, like here in Vermont, have a disappearing population of predators. If not for the hunters, the deer population would explode. Their over-population could really damage a region with a variety of problems from the effects on the plant life to problems on the highways.

My neighbor has a deer stand where we sits for hours waiting for a deer to kill.  As long it sits in a tree, somewhere on his 70 acres, far away from my house ... we'll get along.  Now, I am going for a walk.  My dogs and I have our orange vest on.  Time for me to do some communing.

1 comment:

Olga said...

We used to enjoy watching the deer in the field behind our house, but don't see them too much any more because of dogs and mtn. bikers. Hunters never cleared them out so well. I grew up in a no guns, no hunting house. My husband was an avid hunter as a youth, but does not even swat flies these days and would rescue mice out of our cat's mouth. He still loves to shoot, though--old coffee cans, carefully picked up when he is done. We agree to stay out of each other's hobbies.