Overcompensation, or The Art of the Hunt

There’s this urge, when you write about something where you can (kinda) see both sides, to prevaricate. To cover your proverbial bases in order to establish your credentials with both sides.

Now, amidst the US’s current bitter divisions — divisions of society as much as politics — that might be simple common sense…or it might just be an attempt to weasel out of criticism or condemnation.

I am not, when you get right down to it, immune from such prevarication. I cover my bases, too, and today’s post is no different. My first go-‘round at writing this started with an intro paragraph about the fact that I own several guns, and that I have no problem at all with hunting. Hell, I went on to add, I have any number of recipes for deer and elk and duck and quail and anything else my friends might happen to bring home from their forays.*

*I personally suck at hunting, by the way. I grew up in Southern California, where walking around with a gun wasn’t “hunting,” it was self-defense…

But why should I need, or want, to add such prevarications? All those little caveats did nothing to change or add to or develop the point I wanted to make.  They were nothing other than a pointless effort to establish my bona fides with those who probably wouldn’t like what I have to say in the subsequent paragraphs.

Fuck it, I finally yelled at myself, just make the goddamned point!

Alright, so just what the hell am I talking about?

Hunting grizzlies.

Well, not just hunting grizzlies…trophy hunting in general. Hunting not for meat, nor for need, nor for survival, but solely to “prove” just how big is someone’s imaginary hunting-dick.

I am not, as you might have guessed, a fan.

Quite simply, I am a firm believer in the concept of showing respect to that which you kill. Anything you kill. You use everything — and I mean everything — to show that respect. Skin, meat, organs…you use the lot. Whatever you killed, be it deer or elk or fish or what-have-you, deserves at least that much.

But to hunt and kill something solely for a pelt? Or some horns? Or, worst of all, for a fucking picture with its corpse?

Yeah, there ain’t enough bragging in the universe to make your genitals seem any bigger than the sad, tiny little things you actually possess…


So, Wyoming — my neighbor state, I’m ashamed to admit, and my home when I lived in Yellowstone — chose to schedule a hunt for grizzlies just as soon as the current administration decided to “unlist” them from the endangered species registry. They were unlisted because Yellowstone currently has about 700 hundred of the things…700.

Where once thousands roamed, there are now SEVEN HUNDRED…and the rednecks just couldn’t wait to start shooting the damned things.

Not even freaking Montana or Idaho jumped into the slaughter so quickly, or so thoroughly. But Wyoming is…errr…well…it’s a shithole, to be honest. It routinely competes with Alabama to see just who can limbo ever lower under our already low bar of decency, civilization and intelligence.

650B1C08-042C-47C7-BB68-111D28CFA0A5No one, by the way, kills a grizzly for the meat — bear meat is greasy as hell, and not worth the effort. Just as no one goes out to hunt random grizzlies to survive. No, if a grizzly is threatening you, or is preying on humans, you shoot that specific bear…you have to, when you get right down to it, because killing in those instances is a necessary part of survival. I carry a gun on every single one of my backcountry hikes, and I’m fully prepared to shoot if and when I hit one of those “him or me” moments. But what you don’t do is go out and start randomly blasting away at any and every grizzly you see and have the gall to call that “survival.”

No, the sad truth is that the “great” state of Wyoming just wanted to give a handful of trophy-hunting yokels a chance to get new rugs for their floors…

All my criticism and condemnation aside, there have been some good guys in all this. There is a wildlife photographer out of Jackson Hole* who managed to cage one of the permits. He got the permit to shoot grizzlies, yes…but to shoot them with a camera, not a scoped rifle. Others have been working similarly, to deny at least some of the limited number of permits to trophy hunters. I have supported those folks, and will continue to do so…

*Far and away Wyoming’s best town, by the way, even before all this crap.

I don’t care if it’s grizzlies, lions, giraffes, or freaking penguins, for heaven’s sake — if you are hunting solely for the thrill of the hunt, and to prove how “manly” you are, you have failed. You have failed as a man. You have failed as a human. You have failed as anything other than a pathetic weasel with, err, “substandard equipment”…

3 thoughts on “Overcompensation, or The Art of the Hunt

  1. Matt Cowper August 29, 2018 / 7:27 pm

    I used to hunt, but haven’t in many years. For one, it’s boring. Sitting in one area for potentially hours on end, perking my ears up for sounds of game, swiveling my head slowly so no movement alerts the animals, moving my rifle from one position to another, then back to the original position…the definition of tedious.

    But the thrill of the hunt…yes, it’s a potent feeling, and I don’t believe that’s a totally bad thing. Personally, it was never about proving my manliness. It was about…something else. Hard to say what exactly. Adrenaline combines with the rush of power, but is then counteracted by shock that, yes, you’ve actually shot an animal with a projectile weapon – this isn’t a pesky mosquito or a cockroach, but a mammal that’s roughly your size. And if the animal struggles before its demise, your emotions really rev into overdrive.

    It’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else. Not from some first-person shooter, not watching a movie, not playing some false combat sport like laser tag or paintball.

    I’m sure soldiers experience similar emotions, but I’m never been to war.

    Anyway, I don’t regret hunting, and I only hunted deer, which are far from endangered. I learned more about mortality, myself, and the thin strands holding society together in the brief time I stalked deer than from hundreds of novels, films, video games, or other forms of media.


    • WriterMinion August 31, 2018 / 10:32 am

      I’m definitely with you on the value of hunting, Matt.

      It takes skill to stalk and to hunt. It takes focus and effort and patience. You say you have never been to war, and neither have I, but I do have a number of friends who have fired shots in anger — and been fired at — and many of them find the focus hunting takes to help with the memories and stress they still carry from that…

      I respect the hell out of people who are good at hunting. I also respect the food we get from it — I live in the mountains, and a number of folks up here HAVE to hunt in order to supplement to their food supply.

      No, the only thing that bugs me — and what I was ranting about — is the concept of trophy hunting. The sense of let’s go kill a lion/bear/elephant/etc… not for the meat, not for survival, but to prove something. That’s a concept I just don’t get…and, of course, I WAS kinda grumpy when I wrote my little rant. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. aandj8804 September 6, 2018 / 5:38 am

    Totally agree with this post. I don’t shoot or hunt and I don’t own a gun. I’d be a vegetarian if I thought it would make a difference. As it doesn’t (imho) and I do like meat, I think I will keep things status quo. But do people really need to hunt grizzly bears? No. Especially, if like you say, there are only 700 left. What are we doing for future generations who won’t know what a grizzly bear is? The animals don’t deserve this; follow-up generations don’t deserve this.


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