I wasn't going to say much about Cecil the lionhearted, lionlivered, etc. I figured enough had been said on the matter. Then John came up with this excellent 'toon, and I figured it could be a springboard for discussion. I take it from the 'toon, we haven't really talked about it, that John is a bit more energized against trophy hunting than I am.
But to make things perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon and Barack Obama were and are wont to tell us, what happened with Cecil wasn't hunting IMHO. This guy gives hunting a bad name.
The first step in hunting is preparation. We'll come back to this, because I want to criticize our Minnesota dentist for his lack thereof. But to me, an integral part of hunting is stalking your prey. I believe that one of the ubiquitous Chuck Norris jokes going around was that Chuck Norris didn't hunt, he killed, because hunting implied the possibility of failure. Having an animal paraded in front of you for you to shoot is not sport and it is not hunting. Hunters track their game and sneak up to it as close as they can before taking a shot.
The way trophy animals become "trophies" is having survived for years against the elements and natural predation and the efforts of two legged critters to put an end to them. The ones that get good at this stay alive longer, and in the case of deer and elk, develop the biggest racks.* In order to bring home a real trophy, you have to outsmart the cagiest, wariest and smartest of the species that is out there. That requires skill. These animals got away from lesser hunters and lived to fight another day.
But eventually the brightest and the best will begin to feel the ravages of time and maybe even get a little careless. That's not what happened to Cecil. He was lured out of a game preserve, at night, blinded by a spotlight and shot by a dweeb who, most likely, was unprepared to take the shot.
I said a bit ago, that preparation was the first step. One bit of preparation involves knowing which weapon to use to effectively put down your prey with one shot, more often than not. Hunting isn't about animal cruelty. A good hunter selects the right weapon for the conditions of the hunt and practices with it relentlessly. The hunter's motto should be the same as a sniper's: One shot, one kill.
I don't know if this dentist used too small a bow, was a lousy shot, or both. An old lion, immobilized by a spotlight in the dark should be like shooting fish in a barrel. (Also not sport) And he should have had a contingency for what to do if the animal was wounded, and not killed instantly. I believe they say it took some 48 hours to track him down and put him out of his misery. (The lion, not the dentist.)
That's inexcusable, but then a real hunter would have been hunting during daylight, both to give the animal more of a sporting chance and then to be able to track a blood trail in the daylight if the chickensh*t sumbitch out for a phony trophy were a real hunter with the balls to actually confront the King of the beasts in his own natural habitat.
Now I'm not on the 'kill the dentist' bandwagon. What he did was deplorable, unsportsmanlike, and dishonorable. Still, compared to slicing human infants up and selling them for whatever the market will bear, DDS MN doesn't peg my Outrage-o-meter.
Full disclosure: I am not a hunter, though I am an avid shooter. The only hunting I've ever done was in the foothills of California. I lived there for about fifteen years, and some years the rattlesnake population would get a little too large or too close to my corner of civilization. I had five small children and whenever I thought there might be a threat, I went hunting.
Some might be offput by this, but I was determined not to shoot any snake that didn't pull a knife on me first! Also, I felt that climbing around the warm rocks would give them at least a sporting chance of returning the favor.
Aside from that, no hunting. My daddy was a hunter, though. He'd try to go deer hunting once a year and sometimes would shoot small game like squirrels. One of my earliest memories of my father was helping him skin some squirrels he'd shot.
I have no problem with anyone hunting to eat. Hunting for sport can be a beneficial part of game management if it is handled correctly. In some cases it is more merciful to kill a deer with a single shot than to let it starve to death if the herds overgraze their territory.
Bragging rights for a trophy to hang on the wall? Not my thing, but the bragging rights come from the hunt, not the kill. Just shooting an animal to put its head on your wall, it might as well be a cow.
*Is this where the term "trophy wife" comes from??
Original art by John Cox. More at John Cox Art