When I started searching for 'speed' resource photos through Google Images, I hadn't intended the above Illustration Friday post to be any more than a nice action shot of a cheetah running. I found some beautiful pictures, any one of which I could sketch and be done with the topic for the week. But one photograph on the fourth page of the search grabbed me and wouldn't let go of me. It showed two dudes kneeling behind their trophy of the day. The image linked back to an African safari company; one that promises to give you a "complete African experience." The company shall remain nameless here; I'm not out to persecute anyone for how they make their living. I just want us to take some time to think this hunting thing through.
Now I realize that if you've come to this blog, you probably got here through Illustration Friday. This being the case, I'm probably preaching to the choir. We artsy-fartsy folks tend to be on the socially conscious side of things. But lest you think that I'm striving toward the politically correct angle, please know that I'm not totally against hunting. I was raised on a ranch, the fourth generation of a family that hunted the hills and fields of central California (though I shelved my shotgun some 30 years ago).
That said, however, we never hunted anything that didn't end up on the dinner table. We plucked, cleaned, and ate every duck, pheasant, or quail we hunted. Hunting purely for the sport of letting blood, though, is something with which I'm hard-pressed to identify. What is it about our species that makes us the only animal to kill purely for the sake of killing?
When the news hit recently about our Vice President's unfortunate hunting accident what shocked me wasn't the reckless hunting practice that put stray pellets in his friend's face and torso. No, it was a related story that disclosed on another day he had single-handedly killed 70 pheasants! How does one man pluck and clean and eat that many birds? How much lust for killing is healthy in one red-blooded American male?
Let's assume he has people who do the plucking and cleaning. Because, yeah, he's a busy guy. He's got a country to run... uh, I mean, help run. But how much room can he have in his freezer? Let's say he takes ten... no, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he takes 20 birds back to Lynn to cook (or to have the help cook). That still leaves 50 dead birds back at the "we-raise-'em, you-shoot-'em" compound. We can only hope that they went to a food bank or a soup kitchen and weren't tossed in a landfill.
Let's leave the VP alone and get back to the big-game hunter. Who eats cheetah? Or zebra? Or giraffe? These are all animals on the price list for that particular safari site. I suggest that if someone wants "the complete African experience," they work on getting potable water to the millions on that continent who don't have it.
The aforementioned hunting company has a code of ethics, mind you:
The company holds to the belief that the primary Ethic of the Professional Hunter is to ensure that each hunt is concluded with minimal suffering and distress to the hunted animal.
Hmm... since when is death considered "minimal distress?"