How do you view hunting from your perspective? In P1 I mentioned eight possible perspectives and briefly reviewed three of them. Today (Christmas eve) we’ll continue with an overview of two more: MEAT HUNTING and SPORT HUNTING (or the sportsman hunter).
Before we do that, however, I just can’t forget “the reason for the season”. While the world has substituted gift giving and getting, Christmas trees and Santa for Christ the Son of the living God, we can easily renew our understanding of the FACTS historically recorded in the Four Gospels of the New Testament: The Gospels (good news) of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I’d recommend reading the account by the apostle closest to Jesus Christ, the Gospel of John, chapter one. That should help in getting our lives in order and in preparation for His coming again! And that could be MUCH sooner than the world thinks — not as a babe in a manger but as the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD LORD OF LORDS” (from the last book of the BIBLE, Revelation ch. 19 – by the same Apostle John).
Now back to the mundane:
MEAT HUNTING (or, the meat hunter)
< The meat from this bear was distributed among four families, and the hide was auctioned for $350.
While there are still hunters who’s main objective is the harvesting of meat from game animals, it’s a “dying breed”. Please excuse the term, but the reality is that “hunting” would die with them if the only legal right to hunt game and predators depended on a primary motivation to gather meat for the family and/or survival. For many that is a secondary goal. And, possibly, for a majority it isn’t a motivation at all… or it’s a legal necessity at best. I know as a fact that of the approximate 100,000 annual applicants for a moose hunt in Ontario (my home province), whether as individuals or a member of a group, that despite the overall costs per individual, only about 30,000 tags are available and about 1/3 of that number will come home with a piece of meat (from a bull, cow or calf that was likely shot by a single member of a group of two to eight). From those statistics alone we have proof that the main objective of hunting for the vast majority of hunters isn’t meat gathering. Nor is that so for the hobby fisherman who releases most of his catch!
Taking home some meat for the freezer (that’s already overfull from the supermarket) sounds great for ease of conscience and satisfying legal demands (legislated by hypocrites) but 99% of us don’t need more protein in an extra freezer! So let’s get real about this! Sure there are those in a few remote areas (comparatively speaking) who can honestly profit from meat hunting or fishing, but they could noway financially support a provincial, state or federal department of natural resources. The hard truth is that governments of all jurisdictions are mostly dependant on the hard-earned dollars of hunters and fishermen (sportsmen and women) who want some change and excitement (adventure and challenge) in their otherwise boring lives! And that includes ME!
Plus, my wife doesn’t like “strange” meat. I’ve eaten bear, moose and deer meat in silence! She has tasted it all but prefers “grocery” meat, yet she does love fresh fish and bird meat! Still, I manage to share most of it with other family members, friends, neighbors and some needy souls.
Nonetheless, there are hunters whose freezers are filled with wild game, birds and fish. They are fortunate in many ways that allows them to fulfil both their dreams and needs. I salute them.
There’s no question that sport hunting has taken over hunting as a primary motivation. While other motivations may well be involved, the idea of hunting as a “sport” is the dominant perspective in all the paraphernalia available from manufacturers and found in outdoors stores. I made a list of the possibles in P1, but surely that was’t a full catalogue!
Sport hunting has not only it’s own motivation but also its unique nature somewhat distinct from or in addition to meat hunting and adventure hunting! In what way, you ask?
- In justifying the purchase of $70,000 (in Canada) 4×4 pickups! Then add several ATVs, then add boats and motors, all-out camping equipment and camping trailers… the BEST of everything, nothing missing or lacking! “SPORT” anything implies “excess” of everything!
- It’s not just “the hunt” but the total experience: It may be only a “once in a lifetime” thing, never to be repeated, or on to another “once in a lifetime” thing… or a few more things that become an addiction to experience something “new and different”.
- The glamour of all “that equipment” that surpasses imagination or any “limited” previous equipment.< Was it a “sportsman” or “just a hunter” who shot this 550 lb bear?
I can still recall many details of a moose hunt in the “Far North” of our province. Our son, Phil, and I had travelled 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) in a compact 2-door Pontiac Sunbird, towing a borrowed large lawn-service trailer (that weighed 1000 lbs itself) loaded with everything needed for a week of camping in the bush. Not only that but the trunk was full all the way to the back of our two bucket seats in the driving compartment. We drove through the night during a nasty wind and rainfall storm. Late the next day we set up camp and tried to get some sleep in a pop-up tent that continuously was knocked down on us by wind gusts, and “poped back up” again. The next day (the day before the hunt could begin) we did scouting in the morning and found good-fresh sign. In the afternoon we drove over some of the myriad logging roads and came across a hunting camp about 10 Km from our camp. There, we were introduced to a “real” hunt camp with 7 or 8 hunters, high wall tents, 4×4 pickup trucks, ATVs, etc. It appeared they’d done little scouting as they hadn’t yet seen any “sign”, but one hunter wanted us to be introduced to his new rifle — a 7mm stainless Remington Magnum. A day later they did give us a hand in loading the bull onto our trailer for the trip home. They still hadn’t seen any “sign”, so we encouraged them to hunt the cow and calf that were with the bull when I shot it. That evening we left for the trip back home under a full moon, not knowing the final results of their hunt. Whatever the case, they had more than enough equipment and personnel to kill every moose within a hundred sq-miles several times over when all they really needed was a moose, a loaded rifle and a hunter who had more on his mind than his new rifle.
< This was a new CZ550 in .458 Win Mag. There often is a sense of real pleasure in a new hunt with a new rifle and caliber. But, nonetheless, it still needs to be proven in the field like the old Ford truck in the background that was nearly as old as I was — at least it appeared so.
I like new rifles and some useful equipment, but to make “new toys” the end game of a serious hunt with others in a hunt camp will result in some frustration, and perhaps anger on the part of one or more partners. I’m also more than a little angered at the presentation of videos of a “successful” hunt where the main object of the video is bragging over the headgear of the animal, as if the death of the animal was meaningless apart from its value in making the “sportsman” look great (in his own estimation if not that of others). That of course harkens back to “sport hunting for trophies”.
Yet, to be open and frank about hunting motives is often difficult for many hunters to reflect on or express. Often motives are mixed. In my case, sometimes I don’t want to hunt but I do to maintain a friendship or for the good of others who may depend on me for knowledge or leadership. Then, if I take time (usually during a hunt) to ask “Why am I doing this?”, there may actually be mixed motives. But getting the biggest deer or bear in the woods is not one of them. A “good” deer or bear, yes, but a so-called trophy isn’t close to being recognized in the back of my mind.
Again, my motives that are recognizable to me are adventure, challenge, outdoor activities, comradeship and healthful living. As to any others: the use of equipment, new or used, increased knowledge and experience, developing new skills or improving/keeping them — such as not getting lost, aiming and shooting live game (sometimes simulated as in toting a rifle in brush or rough areas, aiming at a stump, boulder or deadfall, etc.) So there are secondary motives, hence perspectives, associated with the primary ones.
I don’t regard myself as a “sportsman”, so-called, but rather “just a hunter”. If there were no social or material benefits in shooting bears, I wouldn’t do it. Bears are not just a nuisance — they are predators that kill other game animals and humans if so inclined. Moose populations have been drastically reduced in parts of our province by a dynamic increase in bear numbers. There’s documented evidence to support that! And, of course, that’s not the whole story… They are a potential threat to humans who move about in their general habitat. Moreover, as their numbers increase they learn that the backyards and farmlands of human populations have great and delicious free edibles that fatten them up for winter’s denning. And some of those edibles might include your pet goat, cat, lamb or…? Consequently, I’ve encouraged some deer and moose hunters to include a bear tag.
There’s no doubt that the element of potential danger is an attraction in the hunt of bear species. I’ll admit that factor as main in my strong inclination to hunt black bears. Again, that’s where part of the challenge aspect emerges for myself. If they were a non-dangerous species I wouldn’t hunt them for their meat. Nor would any other hunters that I’m aware of. I perceive them as a threat to the various deer species, and a possible threat to humans who simply go about their “business” in vacation areas, wildernesses or even on home turf when their numbers attain a level where so-called “natural” habitat can no longer adequately support them. Remember: All bears, including blacks, are first and foremost big and dangerous predators!
< This bear was taken on private farm property.
‘Til the next in the New Year…
Have a blessed Christmas and a healthy-happy New Year!