Hunting - Is fair really fair?
Author with Tsessebe.
Humans are the only sensitive predator. I am sure a wolf is indifferent when he hears the plea of a sheep stuck in the fence. When I hunt, I assess the situation. My heart tells my head and my head sends a message to my trigger finger. I pull. I pray my take expires quickly. When it's fair, I know. When it's not, I also know. The meat tastes the same either way. So please explain why my personal choice is a threat to you.
I am not about killing the biggest. I am not about killing more than I'm allotted. I am not about bringing my craft into the public arena for all to view. I do what I do for myself and nobody else-I have fun and enjoy the experience. I do not and will not compete with you. Likewise, you should not compete with me; you are hunting for the wrong reasons if you do.
Where am I going with this? I have noticed a huge discussion going on within the hunting community. The talk, the debate, and the buzz have concentrated mainly on the concept of fair chase and those elements which define fair chase. It's only fair if we do it this way or that. We are nobody, or worse yet "scum", if we do not do it the "Barta Way" or as the "Drury Brothers" would have us. We make competitions when and where there is no need for competition-there are too many variables associated with hunting to level any playing field (e.g. the difference between individuals).
I, therefore, pose the question is fair really fair? What's fair about men deploying a multitude of tools and techniques to dispatch animals? It's not like we simply chase them down while bare naked and sink our teeth into their jugulars. Ever hear of the 1000 yard rifle shot, or the bow that sends arrows 350 feet per second? What about the hordes which drive game to their demise? Pitfalls? Bait, tree stands, fence, disabled shooters shooting from a vehicle, pick one and run the gauntlet! Watch how many ego strokers switch as you pass! Seriously, is your ego so large and insecure that you cannot let a little boy hunt and have fun? Does he really have to do it your way? My son, for example, who suffered a stroke in uterus, is not me! He cannot do the same things-his abilities are different! How is that fair? If I were to take him to a safe controlled environment, say a 20,000 acre high fence operation, there are those who would rake both him and me over the coals! Why? Everyone knows his trophy will never make it in the so called fair chase book, right? Who cares! Yet, I am forced to listen to your, "That's not fair speech!" You're?e darn tooting-that's not fair! No father should have to carry his son from the truck to the ground blind!
I find it strange. In the fishing community we have commercial fishermen, bait fishermen, and fly fishermen-all employ different techniques to yield fish. And yet, within this community, they are still referred to as fishermen. In the hunting brotherhood, there are those who would say a person who uses bait to attract and kill bears is not a hunter. If he pre-meditates the demise of a particular bear, is he not hunting? How absurd is that? Why is a person who sits in a tree stand not a hunter? These and many more are the questions I continually ask myself. It's almost to the point where, as a hunter, I'm afraid to take to the woods! Are my rocks round enough? Is my bow too slow? Is my knife not sharp enough? Why should I be looking over my shoulder and made to feel guilty for doing it my way? I purchased the hunt/tag; I just want to legally hunt within the established guidelines and have fun-no more, no less.
I am a hunter-there is no denying it! I am also a shooter; I trap; I employ rocks; I use knives or whatever means available. I kill animals (I also conserve and preserve them-the epitome of a love/hate relationship)! I stack the odds in my favor. I take advantage whenever I can. There is nothing truly fair about it! It is my way! Again, I ask why? Darn it, I do not know! Maybe it's the result of some deep rooted trick innately given to me by my ancestors- those folks who slaughtered animals by running them off cliffs or pummeling them from above with boulders. Maybe it's simply because I can ( or cant-too slow and fat to chase things down)! I have killed animals both inside and outside fence. When it was "fair", for me, one placement (inside/outside) was neither easier nor harder than the other. Have I been on a guaranteed hunt? Sure, there was that one time when I closed the door on the coop and broke a few chicken's necks! I selectively stalked and culled non-laying hens-I killed/hunted them with my bare hands. It was a task that had to be done. I have hunted on islands. I have hunted deserts-sat at waterholes. I have hunted on mountain tops. I have hunted in areas constrained by certain natural anomalies. I have in essence employed every technique in the book-at least to my knowledge! "Time", not fairness, it seems, was/is always a major factor contributing to my success. If I have time, I am 100% successful-my prey has zero chance. If I don't, I can and often go home empty handed. Yeah, hunting/shooting, whatever you want to call it, for me at least, is just a matter of time. And, that's not fair when I have more time than you! Shoot, if I had all the time in the world, I'd kill every animal in Australia! Where can they go? Chances are they won't swim to Europe! Are they not trapped, penned, or confined? How hard could it be, right? If my legs were just a little longer, I could cover more ground faster. What if I didn't have legs? Yep, time, not fair! "Fair chase" is in your heart. Search for the definition there! Do not deny the fact that you are a killer-sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do! Your abilities are not mine, nor are mine the same as yours. Introduce that sporting degree of difficulty which suits your style and leave me to mine. Just know, I've never been bothered by the failure to measure my trophies against those of another man. Seems to me that would take the fun/love out of "my" hunting!