War is hell, they say. If war, which typically involves two armed sides knowingly fighting each other, is hell, then what is hunting – which involves one armed side and one un-armed and unaware side?
And that armed side -- loaded with firepower and tools to facilitate winning, like bait for the targeted prey -- is grossly advantaged. The un-armed side learns the hard way there’s a hunt going on.
Uneven match. Unfair contest. Un-sportsman-like activity. Inhumane. Fiendish.
Welcome to New Jersey’s annual (under Gov. Chris Christie) black bear hunt, an event that itself has strong partisans on each side. Led by the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and its bear-counting “state biologists” (voices of authority?) mentioned in every media story about this hunt, one side claims there are too many NJ black bears and too much risk from them.
The other side, comprised of fervent hunt-opponents, says the population numbers are inaccurate, the risk is practically nil and this so-called hunt is nothing but a trophy-gathering occasion designed to please the hunters’ lobby.
Hunters were limited to archery through Wednesday of this week. From Thursday-Saturday, muzzle-loading rifles are also allowed. Starting December 4, the second six-day portion of the bear hunt is limited to firearms. (This sounds like an effort to give every wannabe bear-killer a chance – choose your weapons!)
When the hunt got off to a slow start – that is, fewer bears were slaughtered than last year – hunters blamed the weather rather than the possibility that NJ bears may have been decimated in previous hunts. And of course they cited the need for the hunt: the first hunter to arrive on Monday used a bow and arrow to kill his third bear in four years -- what a guy, huh? – claiming he was controlling the population and putting [bear meat] to use in a good way, by cooking it. (Would the bear agree?)
This hunt-horror has been non-stop and no mercy throughout Christie’s tenure. And we have learned during her smear campaign against her Democratic opponent for governor that Christie’s Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno – she of the sneering smile -- favors the hunt.
Do we need to know anything else?
Atwood’s on target once more
Canadian author, literary critic and poet Margaret Atwood recently scored again with her 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s equally right-on with this poem (bold face added).
It’s autumn. The nuts patter down.
Beechnuts, acorns, black walnuts –
tree orphans thrown to the ground
in their hard garments.
Don’t go in there,
into the faded orange wood –
it’s filled with angry old men
sneaking around in camouflage gear
pretending no one can see them.
Some of them aren’t even old,
they just have arthritic foreheads,
or else they’re drunk,
but something’s got to suffer
for their grudges, their obscure sorrows:
the more blown-up flesh, the better.
They’ll shoot at any sign of movement –
your dog, your cat, you.
They’ll say you were a fox or skunk,
or duck, or pheasant. Maybe a deer.
They aren’t hunters, these men.
They have none of the patience of hunters,
none of the remorse.
They’re certain they own everything.
A hunter knows he borrows.
I remember the long hours
crouching in the high marsh grasses –
the grey sky empty, the water silent,
the hushed colours of distant trees –
waiting for the rush of wings,
half-hoping nothing would happen.
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