Good Kill Hunting

It’s hunting season, which means a lot of dumb animals will be shot, usually by their fellow dumb animals, who were actually aiming at deer.

From what I understand, deer hunting is a major part of Utah “culture,” and it’s fascinating to me. I’m from Southern California, where there’s plenty of gunfire, but not usually aimed at wildlife. That’s because there ISN’T any wildlife. (The last tree in Southern California was replaced by a Circle K well over a decade ago.) So I’ve never been hunting, and the whole hunting culture is foreign to me. This is why I mock it, obviously: because I do not understand it. (Surely you did not need to have THAT explained to you.)

Now, I do NOT have a problem with hunting because I think deer should not be killed. No deer has ever done me any harm, and the Elks Lodge gave me a scholarship, but nonetheless, the slaughter of either group does not bother me. Nor have I been influenced by Disney’s propaganda film “Bambi,” in which all hunters — nay, all HUMANS — are portrayed as cold, vicious murderers and all animals as holy, blameless creatures. (My problem with THAT film is that it’s a cartoon and yet it’s not funny, which defeats the whole purpose of making a cartoon.)

Of course, if hunters just left the dead deer to decompose in the woods, well, that would bother me, and I don’t think the other woodland creatures would appreciate it either. But I realize that hunters do not generally let their kills go to waste. This is evidenced by the numerous redneck-powered pickup trucks that I have seen recently coming out of the canyon with bloody carcasses tossed in the back. The hunters obviously intend to eat the deer, thus justifying their killing it in the first place.

One could say, “Well, why don’t they just go to the store and BUY some food, rather than going to kill it themselves? Isn’t that why we HAVE supermarkets: to eliminate the hassle of shooting your own meat, churning your own butter and synthetically engineering through the use of highly toxic chemicals your own Pop-Tarts?” One COULD say that. But one would be a moron. Don’t you feel stupid, one?

Because while the hunters do eat the deer they shoot, they also — and THIS is the part I have a problem with — they really seem to ENJOY shooting them. They brag to each other about how many “points” a buck had, and they’ll spend hours tracking an animal until it’s in a forest clearing, perhaps taking a sip of water or munching gracefully on a sprig of grass, and then BLAMMO! They shoot it right in the heart. This whole scenario is fun for hunters, and I don’t fully grasp why. Is it the thrill of killing something defenseless? I mean, you do realize that even if a deer DID attack you, 1) you would probably deserve it, and 2) all it could do is lick you to death.

I am certainly aware that watching movies in which innocent people are gunned down by heartless murderers can be extremely entertaining — I cite “Saving Private Ryan” as an example — but that’s in the MOVIES. Since when is it fun in real life?

Don’t you remember the episode of “Silver Spoons” where Grandfather Stratton took Ricky hunting? They found a deer, and Ricky was supposed to shoot it. Only he couldn’t, because the deer looked too precious, and besides, it was on loan from Animals for TV, Inc., and the trainer was standing just out of camera range, and I imagine he would have been QUITE disturbed if a member of the “Silver Spoons” cast had shot his star deer (although even I have to admit, that would have made for some great television). Eventually, Grandfather Stratton talked Ricky into shooting the deer, which he did, except, like a wuss, he didn’t kill it, so Grandfather had to finish the deed himself and everyone went home pretty depressed. The episode ended with a voice-over from Ricky Schroeder saying, “The deer used in the filming of this episode was not harmed in any way,” which seems kind of obvious, considering the deer was a terrible actor and did not even look hurt when it got shot.

As for me, I can’t even go fishing. Even if I’m going to toss the fish back and let it live, I can’t bear the thought of piercing a fish’s lips with a sharp hook. I recall that when I was a child, the grownups told me a lie — they told us a lot of lies, didn’t they? — about how fish don’t feel any pain in their mouths, so it doesn’t bother them when they’re hooked. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the lunacy of this idea. Every other animal in the world has nerve endings in its mouth; why would fish be any different? Do you suppose that after millions of years of being caught, fish were finally blessed by Mother Nature and their mouths began evolving nerveless? And if that’s the case, why didn’t Mother Nature just nip the whole problem in the bud by making them smart enough to know the difference between real food and a plastic lure?

Actually, the evolution thing isn’t that crazy. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before deer start being born with bright orange colorings on their chests, thus causing them to look like hunters. Of course, they’d probably still get shot, unless their hooves also evolved to look like they were holding beer cans.

(Note: The jokes used in the writing of this column were not funny in any way.)

You know, looking back on it, I don't think I expressed enough of my distaste for hunting in this column. I actually stayed rather calm and rational. Perhaps I'm getting mellower and less angry as I get older. Actually, I'm sure that's not the case. So I don't know what the reason is.

The first sentence of this column -- or "lead," as we call it in the newspaper business -- is one of my favorites. It's short, snappy, and smacks you right in the face. Personally, I also enjoy my rude and uncalled for attack on "Saving Private Ryan." Being rude and uncalled for makes anything sweeter.