Thursday, March 10, 2011

"The Hunter's Dirty Word"

I had an interesting conversation last night, just as I was about to leave work.  A young physician knocked on my door to ask me a question regarding some medications.  No biggie, as this is my job.  As luck would have it, I had "8 Gauge" pulled up, checking some stats, and making sure the blog was in order.  This is something I typically do before heading home, as I have been at a computer all day, and just want to enjoy talking to Megan (and Lila if she is still awake).  I answered his questions, and he commented that he was enjoying reading the blog.  This came completely out of left field, but I came to find out he's a serious deer hunter who got the link to here through a mutual friend.

Being one to always want to know what I can do to make this place better, thus increasing "8 Gauge's" readership, I asked him his thoughts on the material he's read.  What he had to say really befuddled me.  So much so, I thought I'd write a bit about it today.  In a nutshell, the comments and thoughts he shared centered around the term "kill", it's derogative connotations, and that it may be used too much for attracting new readers - particularly those that don't hunt.

We talked about this a bit, offering up differing opinions and insight, which I appreciated.  Finally, he left to get some more work done, and I went home...and thought.  They say good ideas always start with a full glass, so that's just were I started - after everyone had gone to bed of course.

If you look around the internet or take an outdoors magazine, you quickly notice a few things.  We, as a society, have turned rivers and streams, fish and fowl into "resources".  We no longer shoot animals, we "harvest" or "collect" them.  We no longer kill anything, rather, we quickly and reverently "dispatch" of them.  Looking further, one may notice todays outdoor paintings glorify everything but the kill.  When is the last painting you've seen depicting men walking out of the field with a full strap or packing out an elk, laid over a horse, coming down the mountain?

We have taken a timeless chase which is something very raw and visceral, and watered it down into a bureaucratic, politically correct quagmire. 

I'm left asking when, and probably more importantly, why this happened?  I'm sure some of it is necessary, particularly in the case of one's dissertation he/she hopes to be printed.  Sadly, part of it has probably been a result of the need for advertising various hunting products.  The population at large simply doesn't like the term "kill", but "harvest" ties up the entire package and places a nice bow around it.  "Dispatching game" is more palatable for everyone...except, the hunter.

The hunter doesn't "harvest" anything, farmers do.  Is the freshly killed bobwhite, thunderous gobbler, princely whitetail, or regal greenheaded mallard really nothing more than a mere resource?  To make such a comparison, in my opinion, strips them of the study, skill, pursuit and ultimately, the killing to which they were initially created.  Moreover, those terms equate our wild game to nothing but a number, a simple statistic, a fleck of gold in a prospectors pan.

So, while I do consider wild game to be as valuable as gold, silver, oil or any other natural resource, they are still a hunter's quarry he stalks in hopes of a close encounter, a clean shot, a quick kill, and ultimately, a fine dining experience.  Bottom line.

To the physician that started all this.  I appreciate your thoughts and opinions...I just don't agree with them.

1 comment:

Gordon said...

It all centers around the desensitization of society. We avoid calling things what they are and come up with less shocking euphemisms to appeal to the masses. As George Carlin once noted "shell-shocked" has now become "post traumatic stress disorder"...and this doesn't sound nearly as traumatic as "shell-shocked." The problem, as I see it, is that we dilute the impact of something by doing this and pander to the overly sensitive masses by doing using these euphemisms.

Yes, using euphemisms may create a broader appeal, but it dilutes the message as well. It also, on some level, concedes a subconscious shame for our actions. Just like all people we kill some things to eat (yes, even vegetarians kill plants). Ignoring this by creating a pleasant euphemism does not change the reality. Killing is part of what we (all of us) do, it is just as much a part of the hunt as a sunrise. We should not be ashamed of that.