It may come as a surprise to my readers, but I just don’t hunt.
It may come as a surprise to my readers, but I don’t have much of a problem with folks who do.
If someone wants to go shoot a deer for venison stew, or a bear for a rug, or a lion (as long as it’s not endangered) for the Hemingway-esque thrill of it all, have at it. Just remember to wear your blaze orange hat and vest, and make sure you look twice to make sure that you’ve got game in your sites, not someone’s grandma out for a nature walk.
After all, it’s not as if I’m some sort of rabid vegan who wouldn’t trouble a hen for its eggs or bother a cow so I can continue to enjoy Cherry Garcia Fro-Yo.
I’m sure that if I really thought about the food industry, I’d lean more vegetarian, but I love a occasional burger, wear leather shoes, eat sausage pizza, and enjoy all sorts of other animal-exploiting stuff.
So who am I to stand in the way of someone who wants to get up at dawn and freeze their butts off stalking around in the woods hoping to bag something wearing antlers? Or sit around in a duck blind for hours so they can blast a few Mergansers out of the sky. (Actually, as long as I had control over the situation, I would never stand in the way of anyone carrying a gun.)
Feel free, oh great (probably mostly) white hunters, to roam the aisles of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s to your hearts’ content. (I would prefer that you not use a machine gun, however.)
And yet I am totally appalled at the thought of hunters who go the fish in a barrel route, to the not-so-happy-hunting grounds that are the fenced in “captive hunting camps” where hunters go when they want to improve their odds – more cash and carry than skill and luck. Somehow, this doesn’t seem all that sporting.
Apparently the state wildlife/fish and game folks in Vermont felt the same way, because they just closed down one of these outfits which the state claimed was operating illegally.
The two operators of the camp, called Hunt the Ridge, are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court after a sting in which two game wardens, posing as hunters from Pennsylvania, paid to shoot and kill a wild boar and a Spanish goat, authorities said. They face fines up to $7,000 and the loss of their hunting and fishing licenses.
“One of the more important aspects of hunting is the notion of fair chase,” said Patrick Berry, the state fish and wildlife commissioner. “If you have an animal trapped behind a fence, it loses that sense.” (Source: Boston.com)
Hunt the Ridge was located in Fairlee – or UnFairlee, if you’re taking the animal’s perspective.
One of the legal facilities, Wild Hill Preserve, which was grandfathered in when Vermont outlawed captive hunting, is also under investigation.
Not surprisingly, the owners of Wild Hill take the counterpoint:
“They call them ‘canned hunts,’ but our preserve is a huge area,” said Marlene Richter, whose husband is a lifetime hunter who worked as a bush pilot in Alaska and the Amazon.
“Our game has a longer life expectancy than game in the wild. They’re fed in the winter; they’re treated very well. They have plenty of opportunity to get away,” she said. “They aren’t pets that are just shot in a barrel. That’s the impression that people have.”
Well, no, I don’t have the impression that these animals are pets. But, well, yes, I do have the impression that it’s more like shooting in the barrel than it would be if they were mucking around on their own turf.
The reason hunters flock to these outfits is that it improves their chances of scoring something that’s on what is called a harvest list, which I take it is similar to the lists that bird watchers maintain. To my knowledge, however, a real bird watcher wouldn’t check off a bird unless they saw it in its natural habitat, as opposed to in an aviary in a zoo.
“Yes, it is fenced in, but we have to have it fenced in to contain these animals,” Bill Richter said. “These are dreams that people have, and they would not be able to do this without preserves.”
His wife added, “These people would never be able to hunt this game anyplace else.”
But wouldn’t it be more of an accomplishment to snag a Russian boar in, well Russia – or at least in a place where they were running wild – as opposed to in an area surrounded by a chain link fence?
Not that I’m planning on heading there any time soon, but, thanks to Google – which has substantially increased the odds that those of us hunting for information will be able to find it – I was able to track down the Richters’ place, Wild Hill.
At Wild Hill, you’ll have the opportunity knock quite a few species off of your harvest list: “Russian boar, Red Stag, Elk, Buffalo, Fallow Deer, Ram and wild Goat.”
By traveling a relatively short distance from home, a hunter can leave everyday cares behind and coexist with nature, testing his skills against his game in a true wilderness setting. Bill's knowledge and experience will assure you of an exciting and memorable hunt.
And there’s more good news:
No hunting license is neccessary [sic] because no game at Wild Hill is native to Vermont.
We hunt only pure Russian boar; they are larger, much better eating and make for a more impressive trophy than the feral hogs found on many other preserves.
As I said, I’m no vegan, and if someone handed me a big, fat ham on rye with grainy mustard and a kosher dill pickle just about now, I would be delighted. And I will admit that a Russian boar rampaging around the fields and woods in Vermont no doubt leads a more fun and interesting life than the average pig raised for slaughter.
Still, wouldn’t we all feel better – and wouldn’t the hunters themselves feel prouder – if the wild animals they killed were actually in the wild?