November 08, 2011
Why, in a state such as California, where animal “cruelty” of any kind is frowned upon, don’t such hunters receive the kind of nasty attention that led Hitler and Blair to ban the practice in their countries? Possibly because no one seems to like the coyote very much—had Wile E. Coyote been drawn rather more like Bambi, that might be different. Second, hunt practitioners accord a higher priority to exercising hounds and horses than to killing the prey. And despite the best efforts of the Occupy movement and my friends at KPFK, there is little of the sort of class envy that the Nazis and Labour fomented to ban the hunt in their countries. The hunters come from a wide range of backgrounds. Few of today’s movie stars are sufficiently masculine for the pursuit.
But what of hunting in California that does not employ the horse—of deer and antelope, of wild boar and rabbit, of bear and game birds? Outside of the cities, it is a big pursuit, as the California Department of Fish and Game’s website shows. But it is carefully regulated: A limited number of big game and waterfowl licenses are awarded through drawings—nevertheless, there were 1.7 million hunters and fishermen of all sorts in the state in 2006, the third-highest number in the nation. Licensing revenues are poured back into conservation, and the positive economic impact on the cash-strapped state is immense. Although PETA and other groups occasionally lob salvos against hunting, the strength of such bodies as the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance has safeguarded a sport that is so bound-up with the welfare of the state’s environment. However screwed-up California’s economy, society, morality, and politics may be, she is still a gorgeous place, and over a million of her denizens still have the time and money to enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
I have not hunted in any form since my college years in New Mexico. But so long as hunter friends continue to treat me to venison steaks, rabbit, and game-bird pie, I heartily support the sport. I’ll venerate St. Hubert, and despite my intense distaste for the stuff, I’ll even lift a glass of Jägermeister in honor of the hunt!