Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Wit of the Hunt

One of the differences I noticed between the West and New York is that in the west, people really like taking pictures of themselves with dead animals. In particular, with an animal that is dead because the person in the picture killed it. I saw a lot of those photographs in restaurants or rest stops (Restaurants in New York prefer to take pictures of their food, or perhaps of the owner with celebrities they are about to kill with their food, but rarely dead animals). Unless there's only one deer that has modular antlers that everyone passes around and makes slight modifications to for their trophy picture, there's a lot of hunting that goes on out west. I won't judge the hunting; I'm not for it, but I understand some people enjoy it, some people need to do it, and some people can turn live animals into jerky, which is a good thing for everybody but the animal. So, don't worry, people who take pictures of themselves with recently dead animals, I'm not judging you.

What does bother me is when people refer to hunting as matching wits with an animal. I'll judge those people. There's a lot that's wrong with saying that. To begin with, animals don't have a great sense of humor and won't appreciate witty jokes, but most people who attempt to match wits with animals are trying to accomplish their goal by shooting the animal, which no animal finds amusing regardless of whether or not it has a sense of humor.

More importantly, if you really want to match wits with an animal, you need to do something that gives the animal a level playing field. I could suggest a few games. For instance, you could stand by a river next to a bear and try swatting fish out of mid-air. Whoever gets more fish wins (I would also suggest losing, because bears are notorious sore losers). Alternatively, you could hang out with an elk until one of you gets eaten by a wolf (the winner being the one who does not get torn to pieces). Or, you could play Uno with a mountain lion. Whatever you want.

However, hiding behind camouflage structures and shooting at an animal from a half a mile away does not constitute a level playing field. If I hid behind a friend's furniture (being sure to stay downwind of the fan so as not to alert him of my presence by my scent) while he was out and then shot him as he walked into the room, I doubt he would refer to that as "matching wits" with him. "Haha! You jokester you, you out-witted me!" would probably be the last thing I would expect him to say.

So please, in the future, be honest with yourself. You're not matching wits with an animal just because you're hunting it. If you're looking for ways to describe your relationship with the animal, how about stalking? Sure. Spraying bullets at? Ok. Ambushing! All acceptable way to phrase your activity.

And whatever you do, don't get me started on people who feel the need to match wits with fish.

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