Jeff Green | Oct 20, 2005
Feature Article - October 20, 2005
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Feature ArticleOctober 20, 2005
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ArchiveImage GalleryAlgonquin Land Claims
Gray MerriamLegaleseGeneral information and opinion on legal topics by Rural Legal ServicesNature Reflectionsby Jean GriffinNight Skiesby Leo Enright
The Hunt:love it or hate it
Commentary by Gray Merriam
Many who hunt feel that hunting is a way to get back in touch with nature, a periodic return toward their pioneer roots. They feel that just being able to find your way around in the bush sets you aside from many who no longer feel safe away from the concrete. Making a tea fire and sitting comfortably for a quiet lunch brings contemplation of those who had to live that way before us. A few days in a primitive hunt camp can be another version of pioneering. A November tent camp is even closer to the earth – and the rain. Hunting can lead to observing nature and becoming closer to it in a lot of ways. A lot like a canoe and camping trip, they say.
But there is a difference, others say. Animals are killed. That means pain and suffering by other sentient beings – the deer. And the response comes: "Those pork chops on your plate, where did they come from?” and “We hunters strive for clean kills. We choose effective rifles, we sight them in and practise to become good shots; we train ourselves to take only shots that will give quick, humane kills".
"Besides, if hunters did not regulate the deer population, there would be too many deer and some would starve. Deer will damage your gardens and crops. So hunting is good for the whole ecosystem and for you non-hunters, too – essential, in fact."
“Are you sure that, down deep, you aren’t just exercising the relentless desire of humans to dominate nature?” say the anti-hunters. And the hunters respond: "You mean like turning native vegetation into lawns? Or surrounding your place with “Mosquito Magnets” to kill all the bugs? Doesn’t any attempt to dominate nature assume that all other beings are inferior to humans and can be dealt with as needed?”
Along with all the other values of hunting, many argue that it is their annual release from the pressures of everyday work and worry – it is highly valued recreational relief. "It's just like fishing is recreation for some other folks. Back to nature and maybe harvest a little something special for the ‘Hunter’s Dinner’, just like the ‘Fish Fry’ at the Legion".
The philosophical debate rages on, driven as much as anything by the differences in attitudes between the growing urban population, many migrating to our region, and the shrinking rural folks. It is more a socio-political debate than one that can be settled by even the best philosophers – Singer, Regan, Rolston and others have tried. Meanwhile the hunt goes on and is an undeniable core element of our local culture.