Reader Don Urbatsch writes:
I am invoking the name of the late great Jeff Cooper to shed light on the media fiasco that is the mainstream media’s coverage of the dentist who shot the apparently beloved lion Cecil. Since the The People of the Gun often cite Cooper’s four rules of gun safety (he also coined the term hoplophobe). I am using an appeal to authority for those who consider themselves people of the gun, but would throw the dentist in question under the bus. Jeff Cooper was an avid hunter and made many trips to Africa including hunting lions. There is a collection of the colonel’s commentaries on the internet and they are instructive in this situation . . .
I have read TTAG for a long time and noticed a divide among regular commentators. I don’t have all the details on this particular hunt and in no way would I advocate hunting in an illegal manner, though even legal hunts sometimes come up in the MSM where the participants are thrown under the proverbial bus even by so called people of the gun. Just for a moment let’s consider a few aspects of hunting in this day and age.
Though this quote has to do with elephants the principle is the same.
“It appears that we may have to start culling elephants in Africa’s Kruger Park, to the utter horror of the bambiists. Elephants are wonderful creatures, but they must be managed with care lest they eat themselves out of house and home. Game management usually involves killing in controlled fashion, and the very idea horrifies certain kinds of people. This was vividly impressed upon me as a youth on Catalina Island. When we acquired a summer home there the place was lavishly populated with mule deer. Mrs. Wrigley, who owned the island, would not think of allowing hunting. So the beasts did themselves in. I remember distinctly that one year there were so many deer back in those hills that you almost had to shoo them out of the way on a hike – and next year there were none.
Game management is best understood in Africa today, where controlled hunting has kept things in balance for all to see. Once the wrong people get into the legislative act, however, disaster follows. Most of the anti-hunting people are uninterested in wildlife, but they are terribly concerned lest somebody enjoys shooting it. These are the polypragmatoi, the busybodies, one of the curses of popular government. It has been said that war is too important a subject to be left up to soldiers. To follow that point we may say that legislation is too important a matter to be left up to legislators.”
This is the crux of the matter. Anywhere that man has encroached upon the habitat of wildlife it has resulted in the necessity to manage that wildlife. It doesn’t matter if it is farmland or cities, the reduction in habitat and the need to protect people and property require that game be managed else they would starve, be killed as a nuisance to farmers, or be killed as a threat to humans in the case of more dangerous creatures.
“It has been suggested by one vociferous polypragmaton that all hunting should be forbidden as immoral. This man has a right to his opinion, of course, but not to enforce it upon me. It is the nature of the polypragmatoi, of course, to police the behavior of other people, regardless if that behavior has any destructive social effect. We have always had such people, and we should respect their views, but we should not let such views achieve the force of either law or custom.”
Look past Cooper’s habit of using Latin terms; polypragmatoi would be a busy body. He is suggesting that we leave feelings out of the discussion. I know that on many comment threads here on TTAG “feelings” is a topic of disdain such that those who would base their opinions solely on feels and not on the facts at hand are ridiculed mercilessly.
As I have noted many commenters lambast the so-called “canned hunt”.
“These anti-gun people are still hard at it. They are now pushing a bill to prohibit what has come to be called “canned hunting,” which is the hunting of non-native species on ranches stocked for the purpose. This sort of hunting may not be everybody’s cup-of-tea, but it is legal, economically sound, and can be just as sportsmanlike as one may desire. These bambiists have no business butting in to the pastimes of other people, as long as those pastimes do not endanger the uninvolved and do no harm to the environment. These busybodies simply do not want other people to indulge in activities of which they disapprove, and enjoy doing so. As Mencken put it, they are dismayed by the idea that somewhere, somehow, somebody may be having a good time. May they go fly a kite!”
There are many reasons that hunting in this modern age takes the various forms that it does. It does not however make it any less worthwhile. Maybe you live in the city and only have a weekend to get some hunting in. Or you are introducing your child to the joys of hunting without the cold, wet and miserable parts that take time to learn to enjoy. I currently live in Texas which is nearly entirely comprised of private land. So if you have to pay for a deer lease and set up a tree stand in front of a feeder to fill your freezer, how is that any different than paying a rancher to hunt an exotic animal on his land? It may be the only practical way someone with a disability may get to enjoy hunting.
“We can wholeheartedly recommend ranch hunting in Texas. It may not be pure, in the historic sense, but it is there and it is very satisfactory. It is as challenging as you wish to make it, and it puts good meat in the freezer. The blackbuck and axis deer and mouflon are all charming trophies. We have sampled the bison meat, and find it to be particularly toothsome.”
Cooper seems to think it is perfectly acceptable.
The issue can be boiled down to economics. It should be self evident that people protect that which has value. Where the hunting of game is illegal the lions and elephants and all the other game effectively have no value and in many cases become a liability and have negative value if they destroy crops or herds of cattle. That results in the game being culled protect private property and at the mercy of poachers who have no interest in conservation. Supporting legal hunting of any game species gives it value far beyond what it would have otherwise.
The handling of the Cecil situation by the mainstream media is straight out of the Alinsky playbook. It is intended to marginalize and polarize. It is no different than how Second Amendment supporters are treated. There are many 2A supporters that are not hunters and there are plenty of Fudds out there. What we need to realize is that if we allow ourselves to be divided, we all lose.