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A Conversation of Death
The Practical Ethics of Hunting

The hunters who are guiding me across the mental landscape of the land we walk—hunters since age four, both—have, in recent years declined to serve as trophy hunting guides. Ishmael says, "The money is good and was a time I needed it. But the price in terms of spirit is too steep, to have a hand in these people slaughtering for kicks and a trophy. My father once told me that if there ever came a time where I didn't feel remorse or guilt—even in some small measure—for the animal I killed, then it was time to stop."

On the practical side, Shayne said, "A good eating animal requires three things of the meat hunter:

A quick, clean death.

A quick, clean dressing out, not permitting any glands to touch the meat.

A quick, clean skinning, lifting that hide so the heat can release.

The entire process takes fifteen minutes."

Ishmael added, "The animal deserves respect. You don't drag it out—dirty it up—if it can be helped you pack it out, quartering it into portions the preferred method."

I asked them if these ethics might have also served a hunter who was, at the same time, being hunted by other men. Their response was affirmative, with the clean kill emitting only one shot that is hard to trace to its source, but two shots serving to put you on the enemy's mental map. Not running an animal will likewise facilitate stealth and help prevent falling into an ambush.

Ishmael summarizes his feelings and thoughts:

"Trophy hunting has its place but not with me anymore. If you hunt trophy animals under the right conditions it is the biggest challneg and I understand that. But at my age, after a life of taking these lives to feed my life—to see that meat left, is soul-killing. We all feed off death and that's the hardest thing as a guide that many of those men did not have any respect for this or the animal. If they were a meet hunter and taking care of the animal I was thrilled. But the disrespectful trophy hunters—and there are more and more of them—I hated those guys. Told The Old Man [employer] that I was going to beat the shit out of one of these people and needed to quit.

"Hunters that have to compete with other hunters for food are getting locked out by the rich hunters who are hunting on preserves. Part of me wants to cut the fences and let them loose—it's a dishonorable way to kill an animal. I leave it to the rest of the hunters to discover that for themselves. My father said if you don't feel any remorse, your not a hunter anymore, your just a thrill-killer. And that was coming from a Depression Era guy who went without food and struggled all his life. I love those animals. I'm starting to understand now why the Indians had such reverence for wild animals. They're [the State]trying to cut Man out as one of the predators in the food chain—every animal we eat was once wild and some poor bastard like me had to go out and kill them so others could live and it wasn't and easy job. The hunter-gatherer life is a partnership with God, who cultivated the world. In my opinion, when we stepped out of the Garden of Eden we started cultivating, imitating God, imperfectly, of course."

He: Gilgamesh: Into the Face of Time

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Jeremy BenthamSeptember 17, 2016 9:17 PM UTC


I beg to differ. I did not miss the point. Nor did I intend to pick on you. I merely pointed out something, of which you were apparently not aware, for the benefit of those reading this blog entry. Our distant pre-industrial ancestors were not capable of a quick kill. Nor did our ancestors even believe that a quick kill, as well as a quickly dressing and skinning the carcass ensured "a good eating animal". In fact they believed the exact opposite. They believed that if an animal was tormented to death its meat would be tastier and tenderer. That is why they engaged in the practice of “bull baiting” and why they bred bull dogs. “Bull-baiting was not only practiced as a form of recreation. In early modern England, many towns had by-laws regulating the sale of meat, which stipulated that bulls' flesh should be baited before any bull was slaughtered and put on sale. It was believed that baiting improved the flesh. These laws continued in operation during the eighteenth century. By the early nineteenth century, they were starting to die out, mainly because the baiting caused a public nuisance rather than because of new ideas about animal cruelty.“ Our ancestors also believed in aging the meat of game animals in the skin. Our forbearers often hung game until the meat was putrid by our standards (See the pheasant hanging scene in “Shogun” starring Richard Chamberlain. 1980).

Now modern science has taught us that that the lactic acid buildup in the muscles of an animal that died a slow and painful death actually makes the meat tough and bitter tasting. We also understand the germ theory of disease, discovered by Louis Pasteur and David Lister some 150 years ago, which means our meat handling procedures are much more sanitary than in the past. We Americans understand and believe many things our distant ancestors did not (some extremely good, some not so much). There are many foreign cultures today that still believe tormenting an animal to death will make the meat taste better. Such as the Korean practice of blow-torching dogs to death And the Chinese practice of extracting gall from live bears for their traditional medicine. These cultures frequently don’t believe in the germ theory of disease so their lack of food sanitation is frightening as well. But that is NOT what modern American hunters do!

Having said all that Shayne, I think what you and Ishmael are doing is noble. It certainly gives the lie to the Leftist trope that modern hunters in the aggregate are all unprincipled, “redneck” louts with no regard for wildlife, the environment or the law. But keep in mind that that will earn you NO love from the animal rights cranks. So I encourage all hunters to watch what they say about other hunters and not give SJWs ammunition to twist all around and fire back at the hunting fraternity as a whole. To the outside world, let all of our brothers be brave and all of our sisters be virtuous.
ShayneSeptember 16, 2016 10:32 PM UTC


You completely missed the point of "a good eating animal" requires 3 fundamental elements. I've messed up and chased the poor bastardized to hell and back twice before they die. They suck when you eat them. Stay with the point of the read.
ShaneSeptember 16, 2016 10:17 AM UTC

This is what I figured someone should feel when they go hunting. As someone who wants to bow hunt in the future this was a great read. Thank you.
Jeremy BenthamSeptember 15, 2016 11:56 PM UTC

“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. ” Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” – Genesis 3:17-24 (NIV)

Ishmael just summed up the Bible. The lesson of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is that Humanity is in rebellion against God, has been since Adam and Eve. As such, “we” didn’t “step” out of the Garden of Eden, “we” were kicked out! Adam and Eve disobeyed God, so now all of us, the descendants of Adam and Eve, must live in a world filled with suffering, sorrow and death. A realm ruled by Satan, the Prince of the World (“He is filled with fury because he knows his time is short”-Revelation 9:21). The good news is that Jesus, the Messiah, will return to Earth and restore the Garden of Eden. Believe in Jesus and you will live again on the restored Earth. “Blessed are they that do His commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.'—Revelation 22:14. “However believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned” – Mark 16:16. I’m guessing though that that’s not exactly where you’re coming from Ishmael, that your beliefs are more syncretistic. That’s cool. Like Elizabeth I, I’m willing to let people go to Hell in their own way. LOL!

As for the ethics of the quick kill, that is an industrial age construct. The anthropologists tell us our distant ancestors lacked weapons that could strike animals dead with a single blow, so primitive man generally hamstrung and harried his quarry to death. Like wolves, coyotes, jackals, hyenas and wild dogs do. Like the Bushman of the Kalahari do today with their tiny bows and poisoned arrows. Like in a bull fight. In the days of my youth there were many hunters who thought bow and arrow hunting was cruel and unethical. They didn’t believe an arrow could ensure a quick and humane kill on a deer, or any other large game animal. They thought that bow hunters wounded many more deer than they were able to bag. It was just irresponsible thrill seeking in their estimation. Fifty years later nobody believes that. Oh well, hunters can be just as opinionated and parochial as any other sports enthusiast. What they do personally is the only right way. Unfortunately Leftists have been well able to exploit this proclivity and use it to divide and conquer hunters. See they’ll say, other hunters don’t like trophy hunting either. This is part of the rationale the Left used to shut down the wolf hunt in my state: that it was only gratuitous trophy hunting. Nobody was going to eat wolf meat after all. No more than they’d buy a Rottweiler to barbecue at their family reunion. The wolf hunt was for no other reason than for some white guy to get a wolf skin rug to lay on the floor of his man cave the Lefties argued. Not to mention their assertion that the wolf is still a threatened species that needs special protection.