I grew up on a farm. My grandfather was a farmer. His father was a farmer. His father's father was a farmer. Firearms are one of the tools of a livestock farm operation. Too often, an animal's suffering has to be ended quickly. Many times, the farm stock need to be protected from predators. It is one of the less enticing elements of farm life but firearms are a necessity.
In harsh economic times, hunting was an essential. Game birds served to feed the family and allow more time for the cattle to put on some extra weight. It would stretch the budget during tough economic months until Spring would offer the prospect of a new and better season. True hunters are excellent stewards of the land and the wildlife. They realize the important of the two and it is not a passing interest.
Prior to the teenage years, I could break down a hunting rifle, clean it and put it back together again. It is not an uncommon skill in the family. Further, I know how to melt down metal, put in primers, load gunpowder and make shotgun shells. And yes, I can shoot a gun and a rifle.
Some of my interest in dogs was nurtured in hunting blinds, with master hunters and their dogs. These were dogs who lived to retrieve game. This was a call to what was bred into the dogs' DNA from centuries of service to man. The dogs were steady to the sound of a gunshot over their heads and would follow the aim of the rifle. The success of a day's outing often depended on the dogs' skill and intelligence in retrieving the game. A good dog meant food on the table and perhaps down feathers for pillows and clothing. Every part of the bird would find some use.
I am then familiar with hunting and the gun culture. My interest in dogs has allowed me access to some of the master hunters on a couple of continents. Therefore, I do not approach this topic as a novice or with naïveté. I am curious as to why Sarah Palin had to shoot a caribou for her Discovery Channel program.
Was it necessary that Mrs Palin down some caribou for the family freezer?
There is something vile about killing wildlife when it is not necessary. How much of that animal was used? Perhaps, that caribou was used for symbolic purposes to show Mrs Palin in the light of an outdoors person. However, a person with a true respect of the outdoors does not kill gratuitously. There is a respect for the land that we share. Further, there is a respectfulness toward the wildlife with whom we share the land.
It seems that it is not only I who is disturbed by this. Others, like Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, have compared Palin's program with a "snuff" film:
"... According to Sorkin, Palin’s love of caribou hunting is no different than Michael Vick’s penchant for dog fighting. "I can make the distinction between the two of us but I've tried and tried and for the life of me, I can't make a distinction between what you get paid to do and what Michael Vick went to prison for doing..."
It would give pause to the true hunters that I know that wildlife was killed needlessly. Perhaps this animal was sacrificed for political purposes or for media relations. If indeed this was the case, it is not hunting. It would be inaccurate to call it such. To be more precise, it is a demonstration of being able to kill and deriving some pleasure from that. I don't know what to call that. I only know that it is nauseating. The behaviour is disgusting.
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