Here we go again. A reader —a refreshingly polite one this time — told RonSpomerOutdoors.com Do Not Hunt Bears. That’s great because I invited everyone’s comments. She was referencing a blog I’d posted titled “Should We Hunt Big Predators?” Here is her heartfelt comment and my reply:
“It’s wrong. Bears are sacred beautiful creatures. Hunters with guns have a totally unfair advantage. Until we can totally honor respect and pay sacred homage to the animal by both needing and utilizing all its parts after it is killed (without a modern rifle) then it should not be done.” Amelia
“Amelia, I agree that bears are beautiful creatures, but I try to not discriminate based on physical appearances. I’ll admit I have trouble developing warm fuzzy feelings for ticks. As for sacred, that’s a religious conceit best left in the realm of religion, not biology.
During half a century of observing and studying Nature, I’ve noticed that She holds nothing sacred. Thus do old male bears routinely kill and eat smaller bears. Wolves kill and play “keep-away” with Arctic foxes, abandoning the corpses without eating them (see David Mech.) Male lions kill older pride lions and the young cubs in that pride. West Nile virus kills millions of birds. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease wipes out 80% of local whitetail herds. Lightning flattens huddled herds of bison.
Again and again, over and over in multiple grizzly ways, Nature shows that She holds nothing sacred — yet somehow, despite all Her cruelties, horrors, and “wanton waste,” She’s managed to maintain this brutal, bloody, beautiful planet with myriad billions of living things. Most She eventually destroys completely (see T. rex, triceratops, cave bears, dire wolves, eohippus, etc.)
Despite Nature’s grim example, I, too, agree that hunters should utilize the beasts they kill, but they shouldn’t be selfish and deny any and all parts to other creatures. I take joy in sharing bear fat with hungry chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, magpies and foxes. I like leaving some hide and hair for dermestid beetles and nesting warblers. I like leaving bones for coyotes and wolves, internal organs for bald eagles and other bears.
Finally, with regard to modern rifles, they are natural, evolutionary adaptations by a natural species (Homo sapiens) that, like chimpanzees, ravens, and some Galapagos finches, use tools. Just as a lion uses the deadliest tools it has evolved to capture and kill its prey (claws, fangs, muscles, speed) so do I prefer to kill quickly and efficiently with the deadliest tools my species has evolved — a modern rifle. I realize that my ancient ancestors made do with rocks and boulders, but I don’t have the stomach for slowly beating a bear to death by stoning. Thank you for sharing your religious convictions.”
Notice that in my reply I did not tackle Amelia’s offhand, knee jerk condemnation of “Hunters with guns” enjoying a “totally unfair advantage” to justify her “do not hunt bears” conclusion. This is a recurring theme among anti-hunters, but poorly thought out. A simple review of annual hunter success rates disproves the “unfair advantage” motif. In some jurisdictions and seasons, fewer than 10% of firearms big game hunters are successful.
I know that it is popular among many hunters to ignore anti-hunter comments or write them off as irrelevant, but I find it revealing to listen/read their complaints carefully, then analyze them for truth and accuracy. In most cases their statements and positions are old tropes and myths that fly in the face of reality. Pointing these out might not alter their perceptions, but could influence others.
Keep the faith, friends. Hunt honest and shoot straight.
A self-taught naturalist, wildlife photographer, hunter, and birder with a North America life list of more than 500 species, Ron Spomer feels strongly that humans must respect and appreciate Nature by utilizing native plants and animals rather than displacing them with domestic crops and livestock. “Confining the wild into sacrosanct “nature parks” while continuing to pave, plow, and pollute the wider world is unsustainable,” he said. “We must all grow up and accept the less palatable beauty of Nature’s cycle of life and death. Regardless what we choose to worship, eat, and wear, each of us kills multiple life forms every day.