In defence of blood sports – Epigram

Blood sports. An unethical, unsustainable stain on the landscape. Blasting defenceless animals out of the sky. Sounds harsh right…?

Source: In defence of blood sports -Epigram

More on field or so-called “blood”-sports, from a British perspective:

It is not a question of human rule and dominion but a case of stewardship. I am deeply concerned about the environment – I wouldn’t splash out on free range eggs or endure the seven hour train journey instead of a flight home if I didn’t – but providing species as a whole are conserved I won’t lose sleep over the death of an individual animal.

And if anything, shooting offers a more honest relationship between man and beast than the average consumer could ever hope to have with their beef lasagne (or was it horse?)… When you eat game meat you know where the animal has come from, how it was killed and that it enjoyed a free and wild life – something that cannot be said for much of the meat coming through our industrial abattoirs and supermarkets.

Indeed!

I am reminded of one of the great Aldo Leopold’s essays in his seminal A Sand County Almanac, “Wildlife in American Culture,” where he notes the value of hunting, as inculcating both knowledge and respect for the food chain – much diminished if the only thing we are “hunting” for is the best price on styrofoam-and-plastic-wrapped supermarket meats – and what he calls “split-rail value,” or anything that reminds of of our national (or more broadly, cultural) origins and evolution.

Hunting, and related disciplines like fishing, trapping, etc., are not the only ways to inculcate these values, of course, but they are particularly poignant and visceral means of doing so. They allow the practitioner to be a participant in what is sometimes called “the circle of life,” rather than a mere observer of it, in a way which no other activity save agriculture can do. And of course, farming (or gardening) and hunting are two activities which have always been very closely linked, in human history.

The whole question of field sports is made out to be a class issue. It isn’t. It is a city vs countryside issue.

I am sure the majority of those 80% who condoned the fox hunting ban were city dwellers with little appreciation of the tradition hunting carried for hundreds of years. ‘Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t mean it’s right’ I hear you say, so let’s look at it another way.

To people in the city, who have never come close to anything wilder than a cat, the concept of an aggressive fox seems alien, but in the countryside, foxes are vermin. Straight up. They terrorise lambs causing real damage to farmers. Growing up in the countryside, foxes were not some fluffy creature. They were the stuff of nightmares, crawling into the chicken run and butchering the lot for fun.

Unfortunately many people, both here and abroad, have grown up with a more-than-a-little “Disney-fied” version of how the natural world works. I have spent years working and teaching in environmental, outdoor, and conservation education, and I can assert with 100% confidence that predator (including foxes, coyotes, and even those adorable “masked bandits,” raccoons – ever seen one ticked off? they’re not adorable then!) numbers need to be controlled, to limit the spread of disease and protect domestic animal populations.

And prey animals (“game animals,” to us) need to have their numbers controlled, also – especially in the absence of “top predators” like wolves, bear, and mountain lions – to avoid overpopulation, resulting in starvation, disease, etc. In a totally natural environment, absent the influence of human beings, of course, that would not be necessary; nature would maintain the balance – but the means it would use, namely the aforementioned tools of predation, starvation, and disease, are hardly cute and cuddly. Again, this is not “Bambi,” this is the real world.

Again, those who are opposed to field sports like hunting (“shooting” and “stalking,” in British parlance), trapping (more of an economic activity than a sport, per se), and mounted foxhunting tend to have an excessively romanticized, fictionalized view of the world. It is particularly ironic when those opposed to field sports are willing to eat packaged meat! Such animals frequently live much worse lives, and suffer less humane deaths, than those hunted ethically (poaching, of course, cannot be defended under any circumstances).

Finally, from a philosophical viewpoint, the reality is that we are not separate from Nature, either above or below it; we are part of Nature. We may have abilities of self-reflection, cognition, and communication that are greater than our fellow-creatures, but we are still what Leopold called “plain members and citizens of the land community.” And we are, biologically and evolutionarily, predatory omnivores, like raccoons, opossums, and bears. Pretending otherwise is dishonest, and does both us and our fellow-citizens of the land community a disservice.

Unless we evolve the capacity to photosynthesize, we will be dependent upon killing something – whether animal or plant – to survive. And what many people do not realize is that vegetable production, even organic vegetable production, is not benign. Many animals are displaced or killed to plant, cultivate, harvest, and protect those fields of greens, roots, and other veggies. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, please be clear-eyed enough to realize that this choices does not remove or immunize you from the deaths of animals, it merely makes those deaths less visible.

(Just as “Leave No Trace” camping relies heavily on extractive industries to produce the synthetic materials, stove fuels, etc., that replace more traditional camping techniques… but I digress.)

We cannot escape from our mutual interdependence on the rest of the natural world, and we cannot escape from the fact that a portion of that interdependence requires us to kill in order to survive. We may as well – in my view – do so in a way which is ethical, and which teaches us other lessons about the proper way to interact with the rest of the rest of the natural world, and with each other.

“Outrage” as Theresa May confirms a fox hunting vote

The League Against Cruel Sports said there was ‘no justification’ for scrapping the law against hunting with dogs. Theresa May announced her plans for a vote at the Tory manifesto launch.

Source: Outrage as Theresa May confirms a fox hunting vote

As a former car-follower with the Carrollton Hounds, you will find no “outrage” from me at this news! Indeed, I find it outrageous that it was banned in the first place. I deeply appreciate the history and heritage of foxhunting in the UK and America – where the sport got its start in my home state of Maryland:

“The earliest record of the importation of hounds to this country was on June 30, 1650, when Robert Brooke arrived in Maryland with his family, 28 servants and his hounds. By the early 1700’s, mounted foxhunting was spreading rapidly in Maryland, Virginia and probably other colonies. Hounds were also used for other forms of hunting. Early planters with sporting English blood imported red foxes from England in 1730 and celebrated the event at Chestertown, Maryland” (Masters of Foxhounds Association & Foundation – “History of American Foxhunting“).

Lest anyone get all up-in-arms over the alleged “cruelty” of the sport, let me note that here in the U.S., the fox (in the case of red foxes, an “import,” anyway) is rarely killed, while in Britain, mounted hunts have historically served a useful purpose in limiting the numbers of foxes, which otherwise can become quite a pest.

To my mind, the ban on mounted foxhunting with dogs in Britain is part and parcel of the “politically correct” agenda to suppress history, heritage, and traditional activities, as well as attitudes, that seems currently to be on the ascendant throughout the West, and which it is part of this blog’s intention to help counteract.

This state school in England teaches kids how to shoot, and to gut and cook pigeons.

Source: Channel 4 News | Facebook

Amazing state school in the UK teaches children from “a varied demographic,” most of whose families are on various forms of social assistance, how to shoot, hunt, dress and cook the game they take, and otherwise function effectively in the outdoors.

The video shows them gutting squirrels, plucking pigeons, splitting wood for the fire with a mallet and fro, and cooking and eating the proceeds.

The most dangerous thing you can do to a child is to not expose them to an element of risk and danger.” – Mike Fairclough, Headteacher, West Rise Junior School, who adds that “If children are excited about coming to school, if they’re being inspired and enthused by being outside, then that has an impact back in the classroom.”

The school gets the best exam results in the area, and won the 2015 T.E.S. Best School of the Year award, according to the video. “Teaching the children to shoot is controversial,” the video notes. “But the school argues it teaches discipline and responsibility.”

“The cotton-wool culture of Britain has got a little bit out of control,” Fairclough comments, referring to the modern desire on the part of many – schools, parents, media, etc. – to wrap children up and insulate them from many of the realities of life. “It’s only really peoples own sort of limiting beliefs, and a few media myths that people have invested in, which have stopped children from having these sorts of activities.”

Kudos to Mike Fairclough and West Rise Junior! You’re doing it right.


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“A-Hunting We Will Go” by Charles A. Coulombe, with thoughts on Knighthood and Christian manhood

Source: A-Hunting We Will Go by Charles A. Coulombe

A wonderful treatment of the Hunt in classical Christian (especially Catholic) and medieval tradition, and its significance for today; a gratifying emphasis on St. Hubert (Hubertus), who in addition to being the patron of hunters, gamekeepers, foresters, and many more, is also one of several personal patron saints (with St. Michael, St. Benedict, St. Bede the Venerable, and St. Julian of Norwich) of my own.

For in truth, the hunter is the great exemplar of manhood. Anything a man wishes to do, he must emulate the hunt in so doing. Ortega y Gasset states that, ‘Like the hunter in the absolute outside of the countryside, the philosopher is the alert man in the absolute inside of ideas, which are also an unconquerable and dangerous jungle’ (op. cit., p. 152). This is true in all else, whether it be a father who hunts for a living [e.g., seeks the means of supporting himself and/or his family, not necessarily one who is a professional hunter], or an artist who hunts for inspiration, or a writer who hunts for ideas, or a priest who hunts for souls. In attacking the very notion of the hunt (let alone its reality) the modern day world is really attacking masculinity itself.”

This seems as good a place as any to make note of the fact that, if I choose to focus a good bit of attention on manliness and Christian manhood in this blog, there are two reasons for this: the first is, of course, that I am a man, myself! Second, I believe that there has been a cultural shift from a perhaps excessive lionization of the male half of the species to a devaluation and even degradation of men and manhood over the last several decades, at least in “pop culture.” For evidence, just look at television, where in an ironic riff on the old faux “madonna/whore” characterization of women, men are too-often portrayed as either knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, or as incompetent, irrelevant milquetoasts. Part of my goal in this blog is to help redress the balance, promoting and portraying men, and especially Christian men, as both active, energetic, influential agents in the world and as philosophical, spiritual, and moral agents, as well.

As Leon Gautier writes in “Chivalry: The Everyday Life of the Medieval Knight“: ““Chivalry is the Christian form of the military profession: the knight is the Christian soldier.” In a word [knighthood, and the same could be said of Christian manhood, rightly practiced] is militant Christianity. But this is neither a religion confined to Sunday worship, nor a profession restricted to barracks; nor yet are the religion and the profession at all separate from each other. It is the armed defense of the unarmed Truth.”

Similarly, Christian men are called to defend the Good, the True, and the Beautiful – both in their own families and in society at large – with whatever “weapons” may be appropriate, whether they be actual, physical weapons (when or if appropriate), the “weapons” of words and arguments, active participation in the life of one’s parish, or civic responsibilities such as voting, serving on juries, or other forms of service (as Boy Scout leaders, for example). For all of these, as for the warrior skills of the medieval knight, the Hunt can provide useful physical, psycho-emotional, and moral training.