Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Ethical Hunters Blog

Over the last few weeks I've been doing a bit of reading, looking at other bloggers thoughts on the ethics of our place in the food chain, and so it seems has James. So much so that he's started Ethical Hunters a new blog to explore the subject. Hopefully you'll feel inspired to join the conversation.

This project was born out of a sense of frustration, that hunters in the UK are so often misunderstood and misrepresented. Hunting is not a 'hobby', nor is it 'killing for fun'. It is a way of life, with its own set of beliefs and ethics rooted deep in human nature and tracing its origins back to the dawn of mankind.

It is worth clarifying here that we are talking about hunting in its broadest sense, of catching and killing wild animals and birds (usually for food), and not the narrow definition of hunting foxes with packs of hounds.

I hope that through these pages we can begin to define what makes an 'Ethical Hunter', help to promote the highest standards of ethics among hunters in the UK, and perhaps explain to non-hunters something of what Ethical Hunting is all about.
James Marchington

In the meantime here's some food for thought:

I was fascinated by Jeff Simmermon's ' Roo shooter' post with it's no holds barred descriptions of the realities of culling in the Australian outback, I've bigged it up before - it's worth a read.

For the Australians, the kangaroo is both a boon and pest, a national icon and creature to despise. The country is overrun with them—58 million, according to the latest census, making the species amongst the most common wild land mammal on earth. This, ironically, is mostly thanks to a sheep and cattle industry that have created an abundance of man-made pasture grasses and watering holes, and have driven dingoes—the kangaroos only predators, but “vermin” to sheep farmers—into the center of the country. These cute, fuzzy hoppers now pose a serious environmental threat to the rangelands. Travelling in packs of several hundred, they can easily cover up to 500 kilometers. A pod can bisect a farm on one of these journeys and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to valuable crops in a single night, wrecking fences and outgrazing cattle for rare desert grass...........

Female kangaroos, however, pose their own problems. Although easier to lift than male ‘roos or “boomers,” the does are often pregnant. And in those cases, the only humane thing to do for the joeys that can’t survive outside the pouch is to kill them on the spot, quickly and decisively. It can be an emotional challenge. Even for Craig, who accepted this part of the job decades ago.........“Mate, I’ve been doin’ this for fifty years, and this part always makes me feel like such a cunt.”

Let the record show that I didn’t participate in this part of the job. The one time that I did, I made a horrible mistake. I was dragging a doe up to the Ute and could see something wriggling in the pouch. All of a sudden two legs stuck out. I grabbed them, pulling the joey free. I meant to hold it up and shout to Craig, “Hey, what should I do with this one,” but it leaped out of my hand and hopped into the distance with a chirping scream.

“You stupid fucking fuckwit, that joey’s not big enough to survive on its own out here! E’s gonna go off and get eaten or starve to death all alone all because you think you’re such a fucking animal lover!...."

Blunt as a spoon, hard as nails and underneath it all, soft as shite. Gotta love the Aussies init!

Another blog I've been reading is Rule .303 written by Jack Landers, author of the forthcoming book 'Deer Hunting for Locavores' were he argues the case for a sustainable diet hunted and gathered from the locale. As he lives in VA his major sustainable protein source comes in the form of Whitetail deer. He's quite an accomplished hunter and has been leading a class where he takes other foodies and turns them into hunters. He's been featured in the New York Times and my guess is we'll hear a lot more from him over the next few years.

There are a number of reasons to consider learning how to hunt for your own food. Many people reading this probably feel a little bit bad about eating meat but not quite bad enough to actually stop. If you feel that you've been somehow dodging the ethics of meat and animal cruelty in your own life, there is no more effective way of facing the matter head-on than by learning to hunt and butcher the food yourself. As a hunter, the experience of the animal that you eat is up to you. A whitetail deer in Virginia can live a good and natural life in the wild and then have one bad morning before becoming food. Which is an ethically better source of obtaining meat? From a wild deer or from a pig raised in a factory farm under Auschwitz-like conditions?

Commercial meat is typically filled with hormones and antibiotics and is fed on grain that required high amounts of petroleum to fertilize and transport. Wild venison is free-range and free of hormones, antibiotics and the cruelty of captivity. If you are concerned about 'food miles' and the impact that your own diet has on the environment, hunting is a very practical way of addressing this. There are wild deer in high numbers in nearly every area of the Eastern US. Many people reading this can either hunt literally in their own backyards or could be helped to find land within 25 miles on which they can hunt for deer. Literally, you could be measuring your food miles by looking at your odometer.

See you over there?