“Shoot One, Please”

The New York Times put up an “Op-Doc” on hunting, occasioned by the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt in New York.  The documentary features a 15-year-old.  He’s accompanied on the hunt by his older brother and father.

Based on votes, the representative opinion among readers inclined to comment is much more harsh:

I am too sickened to see the NY Times glorifying hunting to watch a video about it. Have you no decency, NY Times? Spare those of us with morals and ethics about murdering wildlife from watching the glorification of training children to kill. This belongs on youtube or facebook, but not here. Shame on this newspaper for offending those who respect and value other species.

I understand people who feel this way.  But I’m willing to bet that they — like the general public — haven’t watched many animal deaths.  While investigating slaughters on farms versus the wild, I realized how how the average predator killing of prey is probably much worse than livestock slaughters.  Nature documentaries and safari videos on YouTube make me think animals probably suffer less when killed by hunters than non-human predators.  Lions kill larger prey by strangling them.  That can take a long time.  In some cases lions will eat their prey alive, as in the video below.  Videos of a baboon and two cheetas eating their respective catches alive are available from the same YouTube channel.

Of course, the sample I’ve drawn is highly selected.  But this evidence still moves me.  Any qualms I had about killing animals — “passively” by buying meat products at the market or by actively hunting them — have been quashed.  There are, of course, other reasons to oppose hunting.  For example, I wouldn’t go hunting to only kill (i.e. not eat).  I don’t see how taking down animals with weapons like a gun or compound bow is sporting.  To be perfectly honest, I think if you’re going to hunt for fun you should do it with your bare hands.  Still, these reasons seem second order.  The major issue is the taking of life and on this count, the way it’s done by other animals makes hunting by humans seem more… humane.

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