An ethicist’s guide to hunting

In an interview, writer and hunter David Petersen says the practice makes us human.

 

Jeremy Lloyd is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of NewTowncarShare News. He teaches at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, in Tennessee, and has an anthology forthcoming from the University of South Carolina Press.


When I interviewed Western writer David Petersen for a magazine article several years ago, I really only had one question to ask him: Could hunting be morally defended in the 21st century?

At a time when few people seem concerned about that question — either they’re already convinced that hunting is barbaric, or just the opposite, that it’s a right that ought to be exercised with as few restrictions and as easily as possible — Petersen has spent much of his life examining what it means to kill in order to eat.

You might call him a hunting ethicist, and a documentary by Belgian filmmaker Christopher Daley, On the Wild Edge: Hunting for a Natural Life, explores that notion. It premiered at the 2016 Documentary West International Film Festival and is now available on DVD.

Petersen believes that the instinct to hunt is not only morally defensible, it is also part of what makes us human. In the documentary, Petersen is shown in mid-hunt. But there are no close-ups of a kill shot, no camera zooming in on a trophy animal. What we see is the painstaking work of stalking a wild animal — an elk, in this case — and not with a high-powered rifle, either. Petersen hunts with a longbow he made himself.

In Petersen’s view, this is the most honest and rewarding way to hunt. He is not a purist about his method, though. His challenge to hunters, as well as to everyone else, is that they — and we — take killing animals seriously.

m01229/Flickr user

A former U.S. Marine helicopter pilot, Petersen has edited some of Edward Abbey’s journals, letters and poetry, while also writing nine books of his own. They’re the kind of books you share with your old college friend who’s now a PETA member, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), as well as with your uncle, who likes to joke that PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals.

Petersen points out that there are hidden ecological consequences to becoming a vegetarian or vegan. He denounces our reliance on fossil fuels, and worries about how we degrade wildlife habitat just by living on developed land, which is something that everyone does. But he reserves his harshest criticism for his fellow hunters — for those who devour what he calls “horn porn” on The Outdoor Channel, which Petersen derisively labels “The Outhouse Channel.”

Not surprisingly, he’s against “hunting” any trophy animal that has been raised on a game farm, and he disdains expensive technology that skews the hunting experience. He’s also against the idea of paying vast sums of money to kill big game in an exotic location. Because the best moments of hunting, says Petersen, “have nothing to do with killing, but everything to do with an honest engagement with life.” 

The predatory instinct to kill and eat animals may lie in our DNA, he says, but hunting involves an underlying spiritual aspect of our nature that must be grappled with and acknowledged. If it isn’t, he warns, hunting is in danger of becoming mere sport, falling victim to corporate profiteers and ignorant attitudes.

Hunting faces tough challenges, Petersen believes, but they don’t come from urban liberals with PETA memberships. Fewer people hunt every year, wildlife habitat is shrinking, and access to public and private land to hunt is being whittled away throughout the West. Hunting could simply die out on its own. 

Disaffected with modern life, Petersen and his wife, Caroline, moved to the Rockies in 1980 in order to live closer to the land. Cancer claimed Caroline’s life during the making of the film On the Wild Edge; a voiceover eulogy by Petersen remembers her struggle during her last days. Petersen, now 70, talks about their younger days together — before he grew his formidable white beard — back when he began hunting right out his back door.

There’s plenty to savor visually in the film. A squirrel crosses the frame. Petersen holds a pair of binoculars up to his face, and waits. The camera pans across a mountain vista where, strictly speaking, nothing’s happening. Seldom has so little action been so stirring to watch.

Petersen’s hunt in the film ends in failure. Despite his efforts, he fails to bag an elk. But from another perspective, his hunting expedition is a resounding success. It’s the culmination of a life spent deeply attuned to one place on earth, a backdoor wilderness filled with quaking aspen and rugged terrain that allows for both physical hardship and spiritual immersion, and the satisfaction that comes from both.

And Petersen, we learn, will succeed the next time he tries to track and shoot an elk with a bow and arrow. Once more his freezer will be stocked with elk meat for him to eat. And after that hunt, as after every hunt, Petersen says, he never forgets to say, “Thank you, elk.”

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of NewTowncarShare News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at [email protected].

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • 4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...
  • will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.


У нашей фирмы популярный веб сайт с информацией про женские зимние кроссовки.