Trophy hunting

Leon Archer
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Recently, I was invited to go on an African safari, and I had tentatively agreed to go, because it is one of those things on my bucket list, but after much thought and soul searching, I decided not to go.

My cost would have been very reasonable and even after factoring in the other things I had in the hopper, I still could have swung it (and Sweet Thing even said it was okay with her), but it was when I asked myself what I wanted to get out of the safari that I began back-peddling.

I love to travel and I’ve never been to Africa, but that’s not the purpose of a safari. Unless one is on a camera safari, the major object of the adventure is to shoot one or more animals whose heads would eventually grace the hunter’s walls.

I knew that any animals I might shoot would become welcome protein for hungry natives. But while the meat might not go to waste, Sweet Thing has never wanted animal heads hanging in our living room, so what would I do with their heads? The fact is I’m not much of what people think of as a trophy hunter anyway.

When I was in my teens, I used to keep the tails off grouse and pheasants. I kept the little spikes from the first deer I shot. I kept all kinds of souvenirs or trophies from the animals I shot or trapped, and I cured and mounted fish heads and tanned a few hides.

So I understand the allure of collecting trophies, but over the years, my own urge to shoot the biggest and the best and then display parts of them has greatly diminished. That’s why I could not persuade myself that I would be comfortable shooting animals I could not use, much less enjoy doing it.

Humans have been keeping trophies from their hunts ever since they began killing animals and eating meat. Trophies have served as visual testaments to the skills of the hunter as long as there have been hunters.

Pictures drawn on cave walls with charcoal by cave dwellers might be more of the same. After all, hunters today probably take more photos of the animals they have shot than they do of their family.

Trophy hunting is the poster child for the anti-hunters. They have vilified hunters who pass up animal after animal, waiting for that special one. Somehow they see that as worse than just shooting the first animal that comes by.

They imply that the trophy is shot merely for its horns or whatever, not recognizing that for the hunter the outstanding rack or whatever is merely the icing on the cake.

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