Monday, May 5, 2008

Hunting and unfinished discussions

Quite the interesting debate has been raging over on The Hog Blog, where Phillip responded to a hostile comment from an anti with a really eloquent defense of hunting this weekend.

A bunch of us hunting bloggers chimed in, as we're known to do, and an anti-hunter who called himself "Bob" weighed in as well, bless his soul, courageously doing the equivalent of waving a dead rabbit in a lion's den, as Phillip put it.

The debate has been raging for days now, and I'm still not clear on Bob's point, except that he said he isn't a vegetarian, but he does have environmental concerns about hunting. And I'm not sure I'll find out exactly where he's coming from, because the debate got ugly tonight, and it may be over.

Interestingly enough, while much of this was happening, I had gone off to school to join a panel discussion in front of six grad students about different forms of professional writing. I talked about my newspaper career, this blog and commentaries, and how I enjoy the opportunity I have as an opinion writer to set the record straight on issues such as hunters eating what they kill.

That's when one of the grad students piped up and said something to the effect of, "How many actually do eat what they kill? Because I'm an 'anti.' "

I said, "Most of us," but that was it, because this was a discussion about writing, not hunting. And that was just as frustrating as the lack of resolution (at this hour) in the debate with "Bob" on The Hog Blog.

I don't look for fights, but nor will I hide who I am or what I do - whether it's on the friendly grounds of Phillip's blog or in a university environment most of us would assume to be hostile to hunting.

I actually look forward to the opportunity to hear out anyone who has a negative opinion of hunting, and to explain my position. I want to know where antis come from: Are their positions based on personal beliefs - which I totally respect - or misconceptions?

Tonight, though, I've come across two people - Bob and the student - who oppose hunting, but I'm not sure why. We never got to have a clear discussion.

And that matters, because while I may not change anyone's mind with discussion, I can make it abundantly clear that I've carefully thought out my choices - that hunting is not something I do out of callousness or indifference, but rather as a result of strongly held beliefs.

I am a meat eater, and I am comfortable with my place in the food chain - even with the notion that I, too, can become another animal's dinner. I believe there is no difference between animals dying on my behalf and animals dying because I personally shot them. I believe if I'm going to take an animal's life, I damn well better not waste it - I'll use every part I can. I believe that hunting has connected me to nature in ways that hiking, bird-watching and photography never could, because it has put me right back in the middle of it.

So, if you're out there, Bob and Grad Student, just know that this is where I'm coming from.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


SimplyOutdoors said...

Well said. I do think that we need to confront those who differ in our opinions of hunting, and at least attempt to showcase our point of view.

I do agree that some people don't like hunting because of personal beliefs, and if that is the case, then I am fine with it, but like you said, if it is because of misconception then I at least want a chance to explain my way of life and why I do it.

By doing that we might get lucky enough to change someone's opinion of hunters. It's worth the shot anyway!

NorCal Cazadora said...

With the last commentary I got published for a mass market (the Sacramento Bee), I had a couple people tell me they did change they way they thought about hunters, which was pretty cool.

And one of my colleagues told me sheepishly that the piece made her think she should go vegetarian again, because I'd written about really confronting the choice of whether to eat meat. I told her that didn't bother me at all - I was glad she read and considered it seriously.

Obviously, I draw a line: I respect vegetarians' desire to avoid meat, but I reserve my right to eat it.

Kristine said...

I think we should take every chance we have to get the word out about why people hunt and what it means to be a hunter. The problem is that rational discussion of the differing viewpoints of hunters and anti hunters often isn't possible. Sadly, the debate can become nothing more than mud slinging and name calling, and that comes from both sides.

That said, I still think we should all try to get our viewpoint across when we can. You never know who might be listening.

NorCal Cazadora said...

That's precisely why I don't hide what I do (OK, that and the fact that I come from a long line of people who love discussing their opinions).

Truly, I think discussion IS possible, but it's most possible with the vast middle, the 83 percent or so who eat fish, birds or mammals but don't hunt or fish themselves. I'd no sooner try to convert a vegetarian or vegan than try to persuade a Christian or a Jew to become a Muslim, because most people's core beliefs are pretty strong.

Tom Sorenson said...

Well done. It's always good to lay out why we believe what we do - not only for the benefit of others, but also for ourselves. It reconnects us with why we do what we do. Sometimes we take for granted so many things we forget what prompted us to ever believe in it in the first place.

NorCal Cazadora said...

That's the good thing about being new to it - it's all very fresh on my mind, as are all the impressions of hunters I used to have before I became one myself.

Phillip said...

Thanks for the kind words about the post, and for your participation in the discussion on the Hog Blog. I do hope Bob is just taking some time to regather his thoughts, but I don't think I'd hold my breath.

As far as the discussion of hunting vs anti-hunters, that's one I've been involved in for a long time... sometimes I get tired, because it seems to be pretty hopeless. It's hard to defend against an ongoing attack based on emotional dogma instead of logic and reason. It wears you down.

But we also have to remember that our reasons for hunting are just as emotionally based and esoteric as the antis' reasons for hating it. It's hard for anyone else to understand, so we lay it out the best we can and hope for empathy.

The thing is, as hunters, we have to stick to it and continue to present the facts and science. This is the high road.