I rarely go on Facebook these days, save for stuff related to my band, or my addiction to all things Curse Of Oak Island, a show on the History Channel about a real life treasure hunt that has consumed me this last year. However having all my feeds inundated with posts about the killing of Cecil the lion, and seeing how quickly social media can be used to display public opinion, I felt compelled to add a few cents worth to this hunt of a different kind.
It would seem to me that all of us, if you go back far enough in the human lineage, are related to hunter gatherers. Every one of our distant or maybe not so distant ancestors had to hunt in order to provide food for their families. Hunting for sustenance, or in some cases perhaps even defence and survival. I’m talking that tiger who is stalking us is going to pounce on and eat my child so I have to get it before it gets us, so I killed it.
With the advent of agriculture and domesticated animals there was no longer a pressing need to hunt big game. Still, imperialistic noblemen adventuring to distant exotic lands and well to-do oil barons exploring the Wild West would claim trophies as signs of their wealth, worldly nature, and hunting acumen. While still unacceptable, it was accepted at the time. And really, how could you blame them when science, environmentalism, and our understanding of the fragile nature of all life and its interconnectivity – which today is readily available at the click of a mouse on say National Geographic dot com, was a century away from the minds at the time.
Fast forward to the present day. I have friends who are hunters. Heck, I enjoy fishing myself. While I don’t condone killing a moose or a grizzly, my friends will argue that they might kill one a year if they win the coveted license tag lottery. In turn, their hunt feeds their family. They use every part of the animal. And while my large mouth bass derives me no joy from killing it, damn it tastes good on the BBQ.
But here is where my disdain arises. People such as Walt Palmer are not hunters. They are killers. Palmer, whether he accepts it or not, isn’t hunting out of necessity. He isn’t hunting to sustain a family. He lured a beautiful, endangered species and killed it. He killed it for the thrill of killing it. He killed it for the photo. He killed it for the pride of being able to display the ‘leader of the pride’ on his trophy wall, along with the other glory kills. Such as the rhino. Really, how hard is it to kill a rhino? Or an elephant? They are massive creatures and make an easy target. Not exactly a tough shot.
I can only imagine the conversation when Walt’s friends come over. “Hey Walt, tell us about that elephant head there in the study”…. “Well Ted, glad you asked. It was so thrilling. It was scorching hot that day out there in the plains and I just had this gut feeling this guy would have to come down to the watering hole to get hydrated. I set up behind the truck to wait and sure as shit he waddles out of the brush and I pegged the bastard. I bet he never even saw it coming. Fell like a ton of bricks he did. Man it was awesome climbing up on his carcass for the photo. Then I went back to the resort and had nice glass of wine to celebrate.”
Hunting big game serves no purpose. Paying exorbitant fees to shady characters in order to justify your privilege to murder a majestic animal, often the largest of it’s breed, is pure greed. It is pure selfishness. It is pure lack of regard and respect for nature. It is the epitome of entitlement. (This sparks a whole other debate as there is credible science that says trophy killing is forcing these species to become weaker and smaller as it’s often now only the weaker smaller specimens that are able to reproduce with the dominant, healthy ones so highly prized)
Being in a traveling band, I have spent many an hour wasting time in bars during the continual hurry up and wait portion of our day. I admit to enjoying playing the arcade game Big Buck Hunter. Our band even based a music video on its premise for our tune “Call of the Wild“. It’s incredibly fun to shoot at the big game as they jolt across the screen. Or to knock off a few fish in a barrel during the bonus round. I took real pride that one night in Banff when I was rewarded with a high score mark and was able to enter “Lazy” on the leaderboard. One could even argue that playing Big Buck Hunter has served as a valuable bonding experience for my bandmates and I. Trivial, mindless fun, a distraction from the monotony of tour life. But it is just that. Mindless fun, where no animal is harmed. Maybe Walt should give it a shot. And maybe, we should have had him star in our music video, in which I guess I should add we changed the game to ‘Big Human Hunter.’ Now that would have been thrilling. Thanks for letting me rage here.