ranka this post was WAY WAY out of line.....You should be banned for the inference you made about DONNIE and his dead father. SHAME on you for being such a vile despicable person. JOSH this is WAY outta line IMO.
I don't know, can't we insert 'deer hunter' here?http://www.lundybancroft.com/pages/arti ... VERLAP.htm
nope you can't
Really? But don't they lurve their victims too?
When hunters from different countries talk about ‘hunting’, they are often describing quite separate activities. The main form of ‘hunting’ which takes place in the USA are those which many European hunters, certainly British ones, would call ‘shooting’. Therefore, in North America, hunting often means tracking and shooting species such as deer, bears, turkeys and moose with bows and rifles. According to Spiegal (1988: 57), citing information from the US Committee for Humane Legislation, 81% of North American hunters target deer in what Mason (1993: 251) calls ‘the great seasonal ritual of autumn’.
In Europe, the term ‘hunting’ is most likely used to refer to fox and deer (or stag) hunting on horseback, and perhaps boar hunting also - in mainland Europe. Therefore, ‘hunting’ for Europeans tends to mean hunting with hounds (or, in the language of recent attempts to ban the practice in Britain, ‘with dogs’). ‘Hunting’, furthermore, also describes hare hunting, hare coursing, minkhunting and the minority pursuit of draghunting in which there is no live prey. For many Europeans, shooting animals and birds is regarded as an activity separate from hunting: thus, British ‘field sports’ supporters will talk of ‘hunting and shooting,’ the latter also referred to as ‘stalking’ in Scotland.
Mason (1993: 250) describes (North American) hunting as ‘the quintessential man-beast contest’. It is the enactment, he argues, of a ritual which clearly states that humans have supremacy over all the other animals and, importantly, enjoy the right to kill and eat many of them. Indeed, hunting ideology is intrinsically bound up with philosopher Spinoza’s notion that human ‘civilisation’ itself would be put at risk if it were to attempt to ‘act justly’ towards nature, or the idea that humanity would be somehow weakened if society were to succumb to the superstitious ‘womanish tenderness’ in the objection to killing animals (Spinoza, quoted in Thomas, 1983: 298).
The hunting ritual, therefore, invokes the notion of ‘Man-the-Predator’, who stands ‘at the top of the food chain.’ Marjorie Spiegal argues that the term hunting can connote often contradictory images: perhaps ‘a carefree day in the woods with ‘the boys’. Or perhaps ‘a show of skill’ (1988: 55). However, hunting for her is ultimately a demonstration of absolute power over someone else: a demonstration of the ‘ability to end someone’s life’. By deliberately using the pronoun ‘someone’ to define other animals, Spiegal emphasises that hunting transforms a life into a thing; it turns ‘a vital, living being with a past and potential future into a corpse’ (ibid). Indeed, it is noteworthy that wild animals become property once - but not until - they are killed. A living sentient being transformed to an owned object and thing. What hunters do, Spiegal suggests, is provide visible proof that they have the power to bring about this transformation. Hunting, therefore, is an overtly masculine demonstration that ultimate power over life and death can be exerted over someone else (ibid). All of these strands of thought about hunting, Mason suggests (1993: 251-53), are fundamental ideological constructs based around humanity’s agri-culture. He argues that the development of agriculture has led to two basic beliefs about the nonhuman world which he describes under the headings, ‘Necessity’ and ‘Nature’.
All rituals and practices of dominionism, and perhaps especially hunting, are ideologically connected with these two interlinked concepts. Mason claims that ‘the hunt’ is portrayed as an absolute necessity which therefore acts to eliminate questions of choice and morality. ‘Necessity beliefs’ are based on notions that hunting performs the vital dual role of people-feeder and nature-controller. In this view, hunting prevents starvation and, by managing nature, it necessarily helps to keep potentially ‘unruly’ animal populations in check. Mason asserts that agri-cultural thought means that controlling nature has become second nature for humans, resulting in a popular myth that the natural world - and animal populations in particular - can become ungovernable to the extent that human existence may be threatened. Without the essential order imposed by human control, nonhuman numbers may ‘explode’, with disease and starvation - of both humans and other animals - a likely consequence.
Ideologically, the hunter is seemingly constructed as humanity’s ‘protector’ and ‘hero’: in this scenario, humans are pitted ‘against teeming elements of vicious nature’ and must rescue us all from ‘a fate worse than death’ (ibid.: 252). Western nature beliefs incorporate those basic man-the-predator and ‘survival of the fittest’ ideas mentioned above. Hobbesian struggle and Herbert Spencer’s evolutionary hierarchy are prominent in this mode of thought in which humans are constantly described as occupying ‘the top’ of a ‘ladder of being’, or simply being the ‘highest level’ of being. As part of his general views on the importance of man’s domination of nature, Spinoza declared in the seventeenth century that ‘man cannot survive without being a predator’ (Quoted in Thomas, 1983: 298), while a modern deer hunter states: ‘I know these animals well. I have spent much time with them in seasons past. I decide on my target. I am the predator’.
Mason says these views see the living world as a competitive ‘meat-hungry, snarling mass of predators’ in which ‘everybody is eating everybody’ to survive in ‘Mother Nature’s basic life plan’ (1993: 252). These views, therefore, put human beings above all and everyone else, yet abiding by a general myth of some sort of structured ‘grand design’ in which killing is somehow essential for survival. Thus, the model of ‘humanity-doing-what’s-natural’ within ‘red in tooth and claw’ nature is a fundamental male value, says Mason. Hunting, along with other rituals of dominionism, becomes symbolically significant as a rite of passage, initiating the young into ‘the patriarchal model of manhood’ (ibid). The powerful US National Rifle Association, along with hunting clubs and magazines, suggest to parents that hunting is an extremely positive socialisation tool, based on encouraging virtuous notions such as being a strong and healthy ‘outdoorsman’ and ‘sportsman’.
With the use of search engines and links on the internet to locate accounts and depictions of various forms of hunting by hunters themselves, several expressions of cultural values were found, most extremely similar to those conceptualised as ‘dominionistic’ by Mason. Modern North American whitetail deer hunters, for example, subscribe to a specialist magazine called ‘Buckmasters’, it’s name alone being an example under Mason’s rubric of dominionist values, based on ‘mastering’ parts of the nonhuman world. The main content of this magazine are hunters’ personal accounts of shooting and killing deer with guns and bows; technical information about hunting weapons; and advertisements for hunting gear, books and videos. In the latter case, both ‘ACTION BUCKS OF '99, VOLUME I’ and ‘BIG GAME II, VOLUME II’ were available for sale in 1999. The first offers an hour of ‘hunting action’, specifically ‘bowhunts in Pennsylvania and Montana’, and shotgun and rifle hunting scenes ‘with some incredible bucks harvested in Kansas, Texas and Alberta, Canada’. The advertising literature on the second video invites the ‘masters of bucks’ to:
Enjoy the action-packed big game adventures on 10 exciting hunts from high in the Colorado Rockies to the vast tundra of Alaska; from the heartland of America on the Oklahoma prairie to the Pacific coast of California. Be a part of the action as the world’s record Tule elk is taken with a muzzleloader.
When people go hunting, apparently they ‘take’ and they ‘harvest’. Unsurprisingly, dominionist views are embedded in the normal language of hunters. For example, James Ehlers (1998), a professional fishing and hunting guide, invokes all the manifestations of the caring but rugged patriarch in his account of killing deer. He ‘loves’, ‘cherishes’ and ‘takes care’ of the countryside and feels ‘connected’ to the earth, often by killing its [Ehlers writes, ‘her’] occupants. He believes that:
a closeness to earth, the bond between true hunters and their game has existed since man has walked the earth, and it is no less stronger today. It is truly timeless (ibid).
He apparently delights at the ‘antics’ of the various wild creatures he sees, including his ‘ghost-like’ prey, which he feels he ‘must’ kill in his capacity of ‘predator’. With conservationist themes he can conceive of killing as caring; his heavy dominionistic responsibility ‘feels as real as the arrow shaft sliding back across the rest as my fingers draw back the string’ (ibid). He remains motionless and unobserved, carrying out society’s sometimes distasteful (but exciting) task of controlling the nonhuman world; taming the wild; caring while killing:
The young buck stands before me. A mere 20 yards or so separates us. Intense excitement mixed with anxiety has been building in my heart, stomach and throat since the animal first appeared. A quiet beyond quiet rings in my ears. I let the string slip over my fingers and with it goes as much sorrow as joy.
Yes, I have taken its life, and for that I do feel remorse. But, as a human being there is a connection to the earth and her animals that is established only when we take responsibility for the blood ourselves and for this I am grateful (ibid).
Here in just a few lines are revealed many strands of Mason’s notion of dominionism. For example, the hunter’s proclamation that the role of human predator means something fundamentally important; in a Durkheimian sense the hunter’s role is seen as essentially functional, almost separate and apart from the actual individual who performs it. Furthermore, the notion of nature controlled, and absolutely requiring direct human orderly intervention is clearly identified. Also seen are ideas that paternalist humanity must sometimes (perhaps like a caring but firm father figure) be ‘cruel to be kind’ in its objective dealings with ‘in-need-of-taming’ nature. With a potentially painful mixture of sorrow and joy, humanity gallantly takes on board the onerous responsibility of managing and tending - as in Bauman’s ‘gardening’ - the savage earth. Even when some necessary tasks are bloody and repugnant, humanity does not let ‘Mother Earth’ down because ‘she’ desperately needs his kindly and connected control. What kind of mad bitch would she be if Mother Earth were not subject to this benevolent ‘ordering’?
It perhaps should be reasserted that the majority of legislation relating to nonhuman animals contains the central concept of not causing unnecessary suffering (Radford 1999). The flip side to this conceptualisation appears the notion that human beings also must have within them the strength of character to carry out those necessary tasks which may nevertheless cause harm or suffering. Therefore, although perhaps utterly distasteful at times, ‘Man’ must rule over nature with what Lasch (1991) has named an easy-going oppression because it is wholly necessary that he does so. Men demonstrate their caring patriarchal control by ‘taking responsibility for the blood’. Yes it is true: a man’s really gotta do what a man’s gotta do. According to the ecofeminist perspective of Maria Mies (in Mies and Shiva, 1993: 156), the Enlightenment thought of men of the industrialised North resulted in a going away from nature, seen as an emancipation from nature. However, despite this ‘rupture’ from the natural world, modern men return to nature in order to commodify it in a purely consumptionist manner (ibid.: 134). Within this form of instrumentalism, they act in nature as voyeurs rather than actors, like visitors to cinemas or art galleries. In the case of hunting, hunters act in nature as ‘sportsmen’ with a romanticised, nostalgic connection to what they see ‘as nature’.
From this perspective, those who live full-time in the countryside are engaged in creating nature as a ‘sports arena’ or ‘visitor centre’ for urban consumers, be they the North American deer hunters or the members of the ‘field’ on a British fox hunt. Naturally, the patriarch calls humanity ‘Man’ and insists that his own caring-by-killing relationship with others has existed throughout the history of Homo sapiens. How much harm has been predicated on ‘tradition’? Mason notes (1993: 251) that modern hunting acts as a symbolic reassurance that modern human beings are ‘merely’ and ‘naturally’ following the same patterns of behaviour towards other animals which, they tell themselves and their children, humans have followed since ‘the beginning of time’. However, Mason also contends that archaeological evidence (that is, the interpretation of archaeological findings) supports the view that organised hunting was not common in humans until around 20,000 years ago, and debate continues about how important hunting (for food) has been in human history. Until this time, the vast majority of the human diet was plant-based, with the small amount of meat coming from scavenging rather than what might be called ‘proper hunting’ (also see Diamond 1991: 163-72 for an interesting account of ‘agriculture’s two-edged sword’ which shows the health and leisure benefits of ‘forager’ lifestyles over modern sedentary agricultural ones).
It is also perhaps ideologically significant that the lifestyle Mason calls ‘foraging’, most others tend to call ‘hunter-gathering’. It’s ideological significance is surely further underlined, given the quantitative evidence of such people’s dietary practices, that they are not generally known as ‘gatherer-hunters’ (although to her credit, the evolutionary anthropologist and ex-animal laboratory assistant Susan Sperling [1988: x] does use this term in her book Animal Liberators. Similarly, Erich Fromm [1963: 353] writes ‘For many thousands of generations man lived by food gathering and hunting’).
Of course, many hunting accounts are far more straightforward and less romantic than the account offered above by Ehlers. Yet, they still tend to reveal examples of dominionist thought. For example, the anonymous author of Vermont’s Annual Deer Hunt, relates how the ‘shoot-em-up crowd’ just want to have themselves ‘a good time’. As this yearly hunt gets underway, the trade in ‘American-made beer in throw-away cans’ is brisk, while ‘the normally serene countryside echoes to the sound of gunfire’. Sometimes, the disturbance is so great that it sounds as if ‘there is a small war on in ‘them tha hills!’’ In fact, the danger from stray bullets is very real, it is stated. Another account from the same web site talks about people waiting for that ‘supreme moment’ when prey falls within the sights of their high-powered rifles. There is talk about the power and deadliness of weapons and ammunition, and also the satisfaction of seeing a magnificent bull stagger to the ground, writhing in a moment of death.
After such brutal honesty, one author feels obliged to offer more considered justifications for the hunt. ‘It’s part of life and death’, he suggests. ‘It’s sportsmanship and it’s killing for food which anyone who eats meat must accept’, he tries. Finally, he settles on: ‘Why should Vermonters have to buy their food (usually riddled with pesticide) from Florida or California when the local environment can supply something less tainted?’ Interestingly, Ehlers (1998) offers a similar justification for shooting a deer: ‘Fast food provides no meaning in my life and I am sceptical that it does for anyone’.
Someone else being ‘brutally frank’ is Steve Timm, a contributing editor to the Varmint Hunter Magazine. In 1999, Timm had been assigned to visit a gun manufacturer in somewhere called Nesika Bay but he’s less than pleased that writing the piece may interfere with his regular hunting routine:
To be brutally frank, the assignment couldn’t have come at a worse time. I had just finished meeting my last deadline and I was set to kill my fall’s ration of big game. After that, my wife Karen...was scheduled for very major spinal surgery. I was going to be out of commission making meat and tending my bride for about two months... Hunting and family comes first. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. After I killed my yearly allotment of critters and got Karen relatively stabilised, I made arrangements for the visit to Nesika Bay (Timm 1999).
Just one or two patriarchal, dominionistic, values to note here. Timm does not so much ‘take responsibility for the blood,’ he is out there fearlessly ‘making meat.’ Interesting phrases, ‘making meat’ and ‘tending my bride’, especially perhaps in the very same sentence. Good ol’ North American family values are seemingly evident here as well, comfortably nestled alongside the accounts of killing sprees, with the explicit ideological suggestion that this is the way it was intended to be.
According to hunter Jeff Murray, macho values are also commonly seen in hunting with bows as well as with guns. For example, a bow is sometimes chosen because it is large and therefore looks very impressive; but often such a bow can be too large for the physical drawing strength of the person who intends to use it. Apparently, insiders in the bow-making industry call bows that are ‘too long’ or ‘cranked up’ beyond a shooter’s natural strength, ‘ego bows’. The author says he himself was initially attracted to the allure of an ego bow and began with too big a bow; ‘shooting 85 pounds at 29 inches; now I’m down to 75 pounds at 27 inches and have never shot better’. Clearly aware of the potential of a negative reaction to the macho-man image of bow-hunting - and yet recognising that hunting is a way of affirming or demonstrating your ‘manhood’, Murray warns, ‘don’t let your manhood be measured by your bow’s draw weight’. However, in case we forget what the whole business of bow-hunting is about, he adds:
The fact is that today’s bows set at a modest 60 pounds are fully capable of delivering enough kinetic energy to drive an arrow through the chest of any white-tailed buck (Murray 1998).
Turkey hunters tend to talk about their activities in a particularly macho way, perhaps ostensibly to compensate for the type of prey they seek to kill. As an initial thought, perhaps turkey as prey sounds hardly like a wild and potentially dangerous ‘animal opponent’ like a bear, a moose, or even a fully-grown stag does? Indeed, possibly for similar reasons, the size of the North American turkey is often carefully emphasised in hunters’ photographs of themselves and ‘their’ bird. Common iconoclastic poses tend to feature dead turkeys thrown nonchalantly over hunters’ shoulders, the birds’ lifeless heads hanging down limply with large wing feathers cascading below the conquerors’ waists.
In turkey-hunter talk, male turkeys are ‘gobblers,’ ‘tom turkeys’ and ‘longbeards’, and are the more prized prey, while the smaller females are simply called ‘hens’. With some unacknowledged irony, turkey hunters speak of the male turkeys being rather macho, almost arrogant; strutting around, scratching at the earth, ‘parading’ around to attract mates (Trout 1999). Male turkeys ‘gobble’ at other birds; and they walk-the-walk, checking out the competition and the availability of females. Turkey hunters say they use their considerable knowledge of turkey behaviour against the birds, evolving clever hunting ‘strategies’ to ‘outwit’ the gobblers. Hunters also often like to emphasise the necessary expertise and skill required to successfully kill wild turkeys, who seem to the hunters capable of forever keeping themselves (the little teasers) just outside ‘killing distance’. Furthermore, dedication and perseverance are essential qualities for successful turkey killing, for any false move on a hunter’s part will be inevitably seen by the birds’ putative ‘supernatural vision’ (ibid).
When hunter, John Trout, Jr., describes his own turkey hunts, he portrays a mental and physical struggle between ‘man’ and ‘bird’. He keenly passes on his long experience of ‘bumping heads’ with ‘afternoon gobblers’; and says that by following his hunting strategies you may ‘double your fun’ in the wild turkey kill. After establishing the difficulties of battling the allegedly ‘supernatural’ gobblers, the skills of the dominionist hunter are amply demonstrated with accounts of the frequency of their successful kills. Thus, when a gobbler appears behind Trout Jr., it soon ‘falls victim’ to his ‘trusty Winchester’. When two turkeys appear out of a huge valley, he wastes no time in ‘taking’ what he expertly identifies as the ‘best’ bird. By skillfully ‘calling’ to a gobbler in the manner of a female turkey:
Almost instantly, three hens and a strutting gobbler appeared on the opposite side of the field, just out of shooting range. Patiently, I raised the gun while Joe [note: two against one ] took over the calling and offered the strutting bird a sweet string of clucks and purrs. The hens paid little attention, but the gobbler found the calls irresistible. Slowly he approached, and when he reached the point of no return I squeezed the trigger. The gun roared and the 4-year-old gobbler toppled (ibid).
Another strategy of human skill over animality involves targeting the guy- without-a-gal: or the ‘lonesome turkey’. After all, according to Gary Sefton, experienced wildlife shooter, and honoured as ‘turkey calling champion’, any male turkey is more likely to respond to your calls if he has ‘no hens alongside’. An extra skillful strategy, which to the uninitiated may appear more than a little weird, means being able to ‘scream like a peacock’, apparently designed to cause ‘shock-gobble’. It seems that there is nothing like a peacock’s call to intrigue even a weary ‘afternoon turkey’ who is ‘desensitised after gobbling at crows and other turkeys all morning’:
The peacock call is like an extra stimulant that can force a turkey to talk when he has stopped answering the crows and other sounds that made him gobble earlier in the day (ibid).
Focusing his analysis specifically on North America, Mason argues (1993: 251) that hunting keeps dominionist values ‘alive’ and ‘handy for all of society’. He notes that a hunter regards himself as the ‘leading’ and also the controlling species on the planet, encroaching on wildlife every day, deciding where and where not wildlife can live, and which to domesticate in order to eat. Finally, talking specifically about nonhuman animals rather than nature in general, the hunter is aware of the weighty responsibilities of having ‘total power over them’ (quote from a hunter in Greenwich News [Connecticut], in Mason, 1993: 250).
Mason calls hunting ‘human society’s oldest man-over-beast ritual’, further noting that, although only a small percentage of Americans hunt themselves, society in general tacitly supports it, especially the hunting of deer. For example, the opening day of the deer hunt is described in An Unnatural Order as ‘a secular day of obligation’ (ibid.: 251). It appears that this North American ritual has a powerful sociological influence in terms of the maintenance of a ‘misotherous’ culture (meaning hatred and/or contempt for animals - explored below in greater detail). For Mason, misotherous culture is transmitted and maintained through peer group and secondary socialisation processes. For example, on this significant first day of hunting, ‘schools and factories close, restaurants offer ‘sportsman’s plates’, local media sponsor Big Buck contests, and a standard greeting is, ‘Get your deer yet?’’ (ibid.: 251-52). Mason further reports that the New York Times has poetically described the annual opening day deer-killing phenomenon ‘the song of the rifle’ in the ‘rite of autumn’ (ibid.: 252).
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