The idea of hunting to feed yourself and your family is a good one, provided your religious, cultural, and ethical viewpoints stand in alignment with the virtues of sustainable hunting practices.
And it’s cool and sexy for women to be able to learn how to defend and feed themselves.
Various cultures have been hunting as a way to feed and clothe themselves since a very early point in the course of human existence. It used to be a method of survival, particularly in cold climates.
But this is not okay:
This woman’s name is Megan Johnson. She is a member of a group of women who call themselves the Hardcore Huntresses.
And while the species of cat in the picture isn’t extinct yet, it could become extinct if people are bloodthirsty enough to keep hunting them.
The Eastern cougar, which used to inhabit 21 of the United States, is now extinct. And while several populations of cougar and mountain lion are thriving, no species is exempt from eventually going extinct. This ethic that sits at the root of exotic game hunting is what has caused various species to disappear as a result of overhunting and illegal hunting.
If you visit the Hardcore Huntresses Facebook page, you will mostly see pictures of women holding up deer they’ve shot. That’s alright, because deer are a fine source of food for many families nationwide. And they’re not endangered. Waterfowl, upland game birds (i.e. grouse), and big game provide food for millions of people each year.
The Hardcore Huntresses claim that the purpose of their organization is to empower women by encouraging them to be self-sufficient, to provide for their families by killing healthy sources of food, and to protect their own 2nd Amendment rights—the right to keep and bear arms—by exercising them.
That’s great. I support the empowerment and the sustainable self-sufficiency.
But there comes a point where the rift between hunting for sustenance and hunting for the pleasure of the kill is too great to reconcile.
I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.
~ Ellen DeGeneres
While several hunting classes can be sustainably and mindfully hunted, furbearing classes (i.e. otter, fox) and predators—like the one Megan Johnson shot in the photo above—shouldn’t be hunted; they are now primarily hunted for the mere purpose of obtaining the trophy and the photo. This tradition stems from Europe in the 1800s, and it is a gigantic waste of resources, as most of the animal is discarded so that the heads and fur can be part of the hunter’s home and photo album. Trophy hunting is unethical, and it is a slippery slope that has been historically proven to lead to poaching, endangerment, and ultimately extinction.
Now, let’s take big game and predator hunting (and sport/trophy hunting) a step further and delve into the realm of exotic game hunting.
In the middle of the smattering of Hardcore Huntress hunting pictures is a picture of another huntress, Melissa Bachman, who is sitting behind a dead lion she shot. She has killed alligators, ibex, zebra, boar, and other endangered or exotic animals. The way she presents her kill in pictures (with pride and a gleaming smile) is utterly disgusting. You might have seen her on TV in a show called Winchester Deadly Passion. Recently, the media has criticized Bachman for her sickening lion picture.
Currently, the people of South Africa are working on a petition to prevent Bachman from entering their country because they believe that she is an emblem for the destruction of their natural resources.
Now before I slam exotic game hunters, I will digress a little bit and mention that in some ways, purchasing regulated tags for exotic game is a good thing. Because the game wardens are allowed to shoot illegal poachers within the boundaries of hunting sites where they work, they actually prevent poaching from happening in national parks and other areas where exotic game species live. The effectiveness of this tactic is questionable and I do not support the killing of humans to quell the killing of animals.
But the intention is to stop mass killing from poaching. In addition, the money that comes from the thousands of dollars that foreigners spend on each exotic game hunt is important to many countries’ economies, though there are arguments that ecotourism is a more important source of income for countries such as Botswana and Tanzania.
However, any benefits of exotic game hunting die out when you breed non-native species and create exotic game hunting sites in Texas.
That idea is ludicrous and wasteful.
But killing exotic and beautiful animals for sport—in any country—and being proud of it is wrong. There is nothing self-sufficient or mindful about killing an alligator. There is nothing sportsmanlike about killing elephants, zebras, or exotic species of deer, gazelle, or ibex. Nothing. You are not proving that you are a strong woman by shooting lions, tigers, and bears. You are proving that you can shoot a gun for a reason that is brutal and quite appalling.
And the things we do to animals are eventually going to happen to us, says karma and the Dalai Lama:
Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for adventure, and for hides and furs is a phenomena which is at once disgusting and distressing. There is no justification in indulging is such acts of brutality.
When we kill others without the intention of feeding ourselves with meat, without regarding the animal as sacred, and without a sense of reverence, we damage our own souls. Ancient cultures have been sustainably hunting for thousands of years; we generally do not do this anymore down here in the nifty fifty. Some people regard hunting as a sacred act and receive the meat with gratitude.
In fact, Native Americans held/hold deeply animistic beliefs; they would ask the animal’s spirit if it was okay to take it for the purpose of nourishment.
Where did we go wrong in assuming that we were better than the majestic creatures we killed?
I can guarantee you that Melissa Bachman didn’t ask the lion she shot if she could have its body for a photo, a rug, or a TV show. Exotic game hunting demonstrates an ethical misalignment with the original purposes of hunting. And, its unfeasible and cowardly to act as a representative of an organization whose members are gung-ho about the 2nd Amendment in foreign nations where the constitutional right to bear arms does not exist.
Ladies (and gentlemen), let’s start thinking about where we shoot before we point our guns…the ricochet always comes back in some way or another.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise