Up until a few years ago I would still hang out and talk to hunters sometimes. Some people hunt for what they call sport. Others hunt because they enjoy eating wild game and consuming what they kill. Truth to tell, one of my favorite things to eat is venison. So I am making no judgment call here. I have friends who hunt deer and other game to put protein in their freezers which helps them to cut down on the expense of feeding themselves and their families; it also stops them from consuming meat produced on factory farms. This is a good thing.
However, in my conversations with my friends who are hunters, and with strangers I meet who hunt, the talk almost always ends up with a mention of predators. Hunters hate predators. They hate any animal that also eats the deer, elk, moose, grouse, quail, etc. that people like to hunt and kill. At first I just assumed that this rabid hatred of predators was due to a sense of competition that they felt. But I never heard any of these hunters verbally savage or complain about other human hunters. Their rage and hatred was only for Grizzly bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, lynxes, and other such animals.
But they reserved a very special species of hatred for one particular animal: the Timber wolf.
If the conversation ever turned to wolves, I would watch my hunter friends start to slobber at the mouth like rabid dogs. Their eyes would go crazy. They would begin to rant and rave, talking about how the entire species should be exterminated and how any liberal college-educated moron who advocates for the defense of wolves should be jailed or killed. And, no, I am not exaggerating. I have seen otherwise calm, normal men start yelling for the extinction of an entire species and the deaths of educated biologists over this topic. They almost always referred to those with college educations as scum of the Earth.
I mainly would just squint at these people and wonder what the fuck was wrong with them and look at them as if they were a kind of specimen wriggling on a microscope slide or some cocktail of infection culturing in a petri dish.
Later, I would sit and try to figure it out, putting together what I knew about the activity of hunting and the people I knew who engaged in it.
Almost every hunter I knew (or know) is a white adult male. Nearly all of them are not just avid gun owners, but also are right wing types who–in addition to hating wolves–also don’t care for people of other cultures, nor for people who have different skin pigmentation. Most of them are members of the National Rifle Association. Most of them are registered Republicans. Most of them hate the environmental movement.
Also, most of the hunters I have known subscribe to one or more sportsman’s magazines. I am quite familiar with these publications because when I was a kid and thirsting for information about wildlife I was drawn to them since they had garish covers with photos and paintings of wild animals on them. And I had an endless supply of back issues of such magazines because my parents owned used bookstores and had stacks and stacks of them in the shops. I was allowed to take home as many as I wanted to read.
One thing that I learned very early on from reading these magazines is that there was an editorial thirst to promote the hatred of all predatory mammals that are not humans. It doesn’t matter what kind of carnivorous animal they chose to target, these creatures were presented in a light that was as negative as could possibly be conveyed in words and pictures. Grizzly bears were monsters that should be avoided at all cost except to shoot or poison. Mountain lions were killers of deer and elk that should all be tracked down with dogs and shot on sight. Coyotes and bobcats are worthless vermin that need to be completely obliterated for reducing the rabbit population.
But paramount in their hatred and propaganda was, and is, the Timber wolf. When you read these magazine articles there is nothing whatsoever good about wolves. They are a toxin on the forest landscape that must be expunged. No mercy for any wolf. No quarter to be given. Just kill them all down to the smallest pup.
As I grew older I also noticed that most of these magazines look toward the environmental movement in a similarly negative light. They didn’t call for the murder of activists who are out to create wilderness and National Parks, but they did blanket them with disdain and advocate for legislation against them, and to fight any rule such people support or pass.
And there it was. These magazines are distributed to people who, ironically, depend on open, relatively wild spaces where they can engage in their pastime of hunting. But these articles attack mainly two bits of legislation–the Endangered Species Act, and the Wilderness Act. To this end these magazines lobby endlessly, rabidly, and ceaselessly to overturn these protections for wild places and the animals who inhabit them. Who would profit from this? Hunters? Not really. But the folk who do profit from the reversal of these laws need hunters to act as triggers to remove these Acts. Therefore, have those hunters advocate obliquely for the call to remove such protections.
The folk who would ultimately have the most to gain from destroying the laws that preserve the last bits of wild spaces that we have are mining outfits, timber companies, energy corporations, and real estate concerns. If only there were no wilderness protections they could lay waste to the forests and gouge out the minerals. If only there was no Endangered Species Act they could wade into our National Parks to do as they please.
And there I realized that all of these hideous little magazines were nothing but propaganda material for the worst of what my country has created: fossil fuel companies, timber barons, real estate moguls. These are the scumbags directing their poison through hunters, targeting our wild forests to scour out the things that keep those greedy bastards from taking possession of what little wilderness that remains.
I don’t read those magazines anymore. I used to pick one up now and again in shops or libraries just to see if things had changed. They have not. The scumbags who write for them still sell their souls for a few dollars to malign wolves and mountain lions. My hope is that these pernicious bastards who work for the worst of the worst will all die choking on their own guts.
To look for evil, follow the trail of profit.
|The eastern Timber wolf.|
|What hunting magazines tell you Grizzly bears do.|
|What grizzly bears really do 99.999999999% of the time.|