I’ve never been much of an outdoorsman. Maybe it’s because I was raised in the middle of the city and that whole living off the land thing was a foreign concept to me. As far as I was concerned, living off the land meant walking five or six blocks to your neighborhood grocery store or butcher to get your supply of vittles and the thought of actually having to shoot something in order to eat it later never really crossed my mind.
Since then, I’ve moved to the relative obscurity of Ohio and while we may be a bit backwards, we do have a large number of supermarkets in which we can purchase our daily intake of fresh and delicious foodstuffs. Be that as it may, I’ve come to notice that even amongst the city dwellers here in Cowtown, many of them can’t wait for hunting season to begin so they can fetch their rifles or bows and arrows up from the basement, don some camouflage and head out to the woods to shoot whatever it is that’s in season.
At first, I was a bit taken aback by the thought of blasting away the innocent deer and fluffy little bunny wabbits but then after being educated on the matter I decided that “to each his or her own” was the best reasoning and since these folks weren’t trophy hunting and that they’d actually consume whatever it was that was being shot, well, who am I to say what’s right or wrong?
But then I heard about this practice called “canned hunting”. I’m sure any avid hunter out there who’s worth his hunting boots deplores this practice. It’s kinda like hunting for the lazy or the rich. It’s where they build a big fence around an area, usually on private property, where the brave and mighty bwanas have a sure bet about getting a kill. At least out in the untamed forests, the animals have a chance, in canned hunting, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Often times, the person doing the canned hunting is guaranteed a kill or they get their money back. I mean, why freeze your ass off in the drizzling rain waiting for the animals to come to you when you can saunter right up to them and blow their heads off?
Duck season! Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!
Remember that old Bugs Bunny cartoon when he and Daffy Duck were arguing over which season it was and an oh so innocent looking Elmer Fudd stood there looking dazed and confused wondering which of the critters he should shoot?
Well, if fencing in the animals wasn’t enough to remove any vestige of sport, get this.
To make matter worse, the “prey” that are being stalked are often times semi-domesticated. Many owners of canned hunting sites breed their own livestock or purchase the future kills from purveyors of exotic animals, game farms and even local zoos. This means most of those animals have been conditioned to be around humans and exhibit little fear. Often times, they’ll wander right up to the hunter looking for a handout or to be petted completely unaware that a shotgun blast or a round from a 30.06 is what lay in store.
And it ain’t just ducks and wabbits folks. Here’s a partial list of animals, some imported, some native to America, that are being used for canned hunts.
And the list goes on.
Naturally, the good folks running the canned hunting operations don’t like that term at all. Instead, they prefer to be called such things as “Private Game Managers” who operate “shooting preserves” on “game ranches” for “avid sportsmen”.
Over recent years through the efforts of the Humane Society of the United States and various news reports showing actual footage of animals being shot at close range with no means of escape, many states have either enacted laws that ban the practice entirely or place restrictions on what is “hunted” and how the “hunters” go about killing their prey. Here’s the present list and here’s to hoping that more states follow their lead.
This might be a cheap shot (no pun intended) but remember a while back when Vice President Dick Cheney got himself in a little hot water for blasting his hunting partner and friend in the face with some shotgun pellets? Well, at least in that instance he wasn’t participating in a canned hunting safari.
That’s not to say he hasn’t though.
About two years before his much publicized hunting mishap, and in yet another display of his manhood and masculinity, Mr. Cheney and nine (Supreme Court Judges?) companions wandered off into the woods at someplace called the Rolling Rock Club located in the wilds of Pennsylvania and proceeded to kill 417 out of 500 ringneck pheasants and undetermined number of mallard ducks that were released into a fenced in area. Cheney is credited with at least 70 kills thereby eliminating any discussion of what he did to escape the draft during the Viet Nam War and putting the fear of Allah directly into the hearts and minds of Al-Queda. As for the 83 pheasants who survived, Cheney has stated that he hasn’t given up on finding them yet and will make every effort to capture and kill them before the next presidential election.
In closing, I’m not a hunter. I don’t like guns or bows and arrows or just about anything else that causes unnecessary death and injury. However, for the average Joe and Jane who like to wander off to the woods and stalk an animal for the purpose of putting some food on your table, have at it.
For the pricks who want to shoot something at close range just for the thrill of shooting it, well, you’re a goddamn bunch of cowards and you give regular hunters a bad name.