By Mr. Black
I’m reading a book called “The Comfort Crisis” by Michael Easter. It’s a deep-dive into the problems currently plaguing us as humans, centered around the theme that we as a species have grown soft to our detriment. It’s a good read … no, it’s a great read actually. I highly recommend it. One part burned my ass, though.
In an effort to put himself through a physical and mental challenge outside his comfort zone, the author embarks on a month-long Alaskan backpack hunt with Donnie Vincent. Donnie is a self-described “explorer, biologist, conservationist and sportsman.” The man-crush that Easter has on Donnie is evident, but that’s understandable under the circumstances. New guy worships experienced guy. Fine.
I have no beef with Donnie and think he’s a great ambassador for hunters. I enjoy his videos. I have a bone to pick, though. Donnie and the author take great pains to make clear that what they are doing is different from “trophy hunting.”
Trophy hunting has, unfortunately, become an unfashionable and cancel-worthy pursuit to the woke hipster conservation movement. I don’t have a problem with hunters who only do it for the meat; I shoot whitetail does each fall just for the plate. What does bother me like a pinecone under my bedroll is when folks who claim not to be trophy hunters go out and trophy hunt.
Donnie describes their ideal caribou quarry as an “old male, past breeding age.” It just so happens that old males have big bodies and, you guessed it, often big antlers. The herd they eventually stalk contains two “shooter bulls” with antlers “wider, taller and more meandrous” than the rest of the herd.
The author goes into detail on how impressive the bull’s headgear is, right before he dumps the stud with a pair of ‘06 rounds. Oh by the way, they packed out the antlers. Not for a trophy, though, of course. Donnie takes a bull as well, his antlers “high and wide,” Easter writes, “like goalposts”. Hmm, sure sounds like a trophy to me.
The fact is that trophy hunting, meat hunting and conservation hunting (whatever that is), share overlapping goals and ethics. Enjoy the thrill of the chase, make a quick kill, fill the freezer and cherish the challenge. Taking out old males is good for the species, regardless of whether his head goes on your wall when it’s all said and done.
One final point: If it’s not a trophy, you probably shouldn’t take a photo of the fallen animal. Posting it online to make yourself look like an outdoor hero is even worse. By all means, don’t keep or display any of the animal but the meat.
Just like ancient man before me who drew cave art of animals with giant horns, I am an unapologetic trophy hunter who celebrates the kill. I love big antlers, outstanding animals and challenging hunts. I also eat what I kill. Unlike many of today’s outdoor personalities, though, I’m honest with myself and the public about what I’m doing.
Drawing artificial divisions among ourselves in order to appeal to non-hunters is not the way forward. Divided we fall.