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Honor in the Field—A Hunter's Perspective
Mike the Exile Cues the Crackpot on Being a Bad Man in a Worse World
Hated Angels
James,
I hope you are in good health and living the dream. I have a question regarding an article you wrote in 2016 and that was published in Being a Bad Man in a Worse World. The article's title is Proxy Gods of Death and Hated Angels.
In the article you recount the tale of a boxing bout in which you were getting the better of another fighter and got really angry when the crowd started to urge you to finish him. You then compare that anger to that of Shayne and Ishmael's when they were guiding clients on hunting trips. Here is the excerpt I am talking about :
''In speaking with Shayne and Ishmael this past week, as they coached me on shooting and tracking, they both told stories of guiding for clients (not all, but enough) who regarded them as their proxy aggressors in some situations that struck a similar sour note in their hunter's heart.''
I would like some clarification about that passage : did Shayne and Ishmael resent being used in this fashion by men they knew to be lesser than them (1) or were they feeling a sort of kinship for the animals they were tracking (2)?
Best regards,
Mike the Exile

Mike, since I wrote that book I have spent some 5 months with Shayne and 8 months with Ishmael.
Shayne wants to end life in combat with some great, disarming evil, to have his lifeless hands pried from his rifle.
Ishmael would like to go out fighting a grizzly bear and be killed and eaten by it.
I wrote a horror novel titled Uprising about their compatible death wishes fruiting under apocalyptic circumstances.
Both men are in their mid-sixties and have both waxed strong as fighters, workers, hunters and men and now suffer the indignities of age, though they are both far stronger than most city men half their age.
Shayne was a lumber jack and hunter and butcher from age 5—five, driving a logging truck down a mountain by age 8. He graduated from university and became an army officer, fought in wars and went into retirement as a carpenter. I helped him butcher an elk 4 months ago. He carries more firewood in one arm than I can with a wheelbarrow.
Ishmael was a hunter from age 5, worked professionally in that capacity for 14 years, and held about three jobs at a time until age 60. He worked as an oilfield rough neck, a farm hand, a fence builder, sheep docker and sheerer, a mink-skinner, a water operator, a hard rock miner, a feed store operator, a construction worker,a machinist. Even with two knees and a hip now made of metal and a steel cage around his spine, he was strong enough to pull a girl out of a wrecked car one-handed with an arm that had a shredded rotator cuff and ruptured bicep.
These are the strongest men I have met and they measure themselves as weaklings against the men that raised them. Also, their time in wild country has taught them that every genius is an idiot somewhere and that any apex predator in one venue is food in another—that every being has its blessed place and its nemesis out-of-place. As with the majority of rural people I have met, they are the opposite of that depicted in TV and movie. Where the suburbanite and city slicker has nothing but contempt for things outside of their actual life experience, these men have a hunter's respect for any creature that can thrive where they know they would be lost—whether in an office space, on a city street, in a prison, at a board meeting, in court, or inside a computer.
What bothered them both equally about the lack of respect of a certain segment of the hunters they guided—not all hunters, but since they were assigned men to guide they had slim latitude—was:
-valuing the kill over the stalk
-valuing the trophy over the meat
-a contempt for bears, cats and wolves
-lack of interest in butchering and cooking and other rites due the dead beast
Individually, Shayne and Ishmael are quite different. They both despise sissies and crybabies. They both respect women more than urban men. They both like women more than suburban men.
-Shayne reserves the greatest contempt for the man who refuses to learn a craft, such as the man who will not make the most of a kill and be content with spoiled meat and bragging rights.
Ishmael reserves the greatest contempt for the man who hides behind his place in a hierarchy, such as the moneyed whiner who sneers at him for not wanting to confront a grizzly.
Overall, what seemed to be clutch with these men and why they backed out of guiding greenhorns was that they could not stomach helping a man who had no respect for the prey to kill it and then acting as a squire to a tawdry knight with no reverence for his foe or even the field of battle—that mighty wilderness. So, in summation, I would say it was about kinship with the animals, not a matter of measuring themselves against these men, but of measuring these men against the animals they hunted and discovering that they were helping a rat kill an eagle, enabling some wretched, polluted being, a sickly son of Man to murder an aspect of God's Creation.
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