Friday, September 11, 2015

A-Huntin' We Won't Go

A-Huntin' We Won't Go

My friend, John, called me the other day and insisted that I buy a gun. Not just any gun, mind you. He wants me to buy some kind of high-powered rifle so that I can join him on a hunting trip this fall. He says that one deer would provide me with enough meat to last the winter.

"You haven't tasted anything until you try a good venison steak," he bleeps at me over the phone, and even as he is enthusiastically describing the smoky flavour of Marinated Roast Venison, I'm wondering if the Iroquois Nation has risen up out of the ashes of history and enticed my friend into some kind of wilderness cult, like the Boy Scouts, or some such thing. I mean who cooks Marinated Roast Venison? I'm guessing you won't find the recipe in any Betty Crocker cookbook. Is there a Davy Crockett cookbook?

Now, I'm a raging meat eater, but I like my meat hidden in discreet brown wrappers or, at the very least, in those styrofoam and plastic packages with a sanitary napkin under whatever decaying hunk of carcass I've decided to purchase. If it's a sin to kill, I want that sin sort of hermetically sealed, so that I can position myself as far away from the butcher's knife as possible. Maybe I should convert to Judaism. I could eat only kosher meat, and let some rabbi take the blame.

To be honest, the idea of hunting and gutting some animal, somewhere out in the backwoods of Canada, really doesn't have much appeal to me. Die-hard hunters will say it's a sport, but I'm not sure how it's a sport when only one team knows that some kind of game is on. Sport, to me, is like sex. Sport involves some kind of mutual consent between the individuals involved. Sport has rules, equipment, uniforms and, most importantly, a jock strap. Sport does not involve clandestine manoeuvres, forest-green camo clothing, a silly looking hat, and some kind of weapon that is used against an unsuspecting victim. Otherwise, the infamous drive-by shooting would be a "sport" and legal in all 48+2 states. After all, in both cases, the outfit is pretty much the same.

Where's the mutual consent in hunting? Does a deer get to say, "No means no,'" as it wanders within range of a bunch of drunk hunters hiding in a shooting blind?

Now, don't get me wrong. I have no great sympathy for most wildlife. Take the polar bear, for example. Sure they're sort of majestic in their furry white coats and all, but they're also ruthless gluttons of seals, fish, and the odd human being who might be just stupid enough to walk home at dusk in any one of a dozen northern cities here in Canada. As for the creepy little rodents and the like that haunt the suburbs, where decent developers are simply trying to make a living by turning acres and acres of ancient forests and wetlands into rows of town houses, I say the sooner we get rid of them the better. Raccoons, coyotes, skunks — really not my kind of neighbours, and yet they are normally protected by most cities' conservation laws. Want to shoot a raccoon that has decided to dig a hole in the roof of your house? Go right ahead, but here in Toronto, you'll pay a fine of up to $5000, and you'll be charged with firing a weapon within city limits, a crime which may land you in jail.

For the life of me, I don't understand why we protect these urban critters while, at the same time, we send scores of hunters off to the woods to kill animals that have little effect on the human side of the tracks. I suppose that it is currently fashionable to advocate for every "living" thing. Still, I have been to barbecues where the raccoons all but pull up a lawn chair and wait for the chicken to sizzle a bit longer before they show their dastardly fangs and send everyone screaming into the house to watch the little bandits tip over the barbecue and enjoy the day's repast before it gets too cold. I've seen coyotes skirting by playgrounds where little children are scrambling their brains on the turbo slide. Trust me, those cagey wolf-wannabes are not looking for a turn on the teeter-totter.

What would it take to get politicians to allow urban hunts? Oh sure, it's possible that a dog or overly large house cat may take a bullet in the process, and yes, it's conceivable that the town bully, out trying to jack a car, might take a slug in the arm or groin, but in the end, the streets will be safer at night. Not only that, but we may be missing out on an important food source. Maybe, whoever created the recipe for Marinated Roast Venison will come up with the ingredients necessary to make a dandy raccoon stew, a fragrant parsley-sage-rosemary and skunk soup, a snappy squirrel-on-a-bob, a chewy coyote con carne ... oh, the possibilities are endless.

Let's face facts. There's more to hunting than the harvest of wildlife for the purpose of making wild turkey jerky, rump de moose, or elk tacos. There's a blood lust involved. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, postal workers, mechanics — everyday people — have a thirst for the hunt and the killing shot. In fact, the newest rage is the hunting "farm," where for a fee you are guaranteed to bag a deer, a bear, a possum, or whatever suits your fancy. Hardly a sport under such controlled circumstances. Cattle farmers might want to take note, and for a smaller fee, offer hunters a chance to bag a bovine.

Well, no rifle and no hunting for me. I won't be sitting down to the dinner table and offering a benison for venison any time soon. Instead, I'll continue to get my meat by way of the slaughterhouse, you know, that stench of a building in the dark and shady part of every city, where domestic cows moo their last moo, sheep baa their last baa, and pigs oink their last oink before being processed for the supermarket. However, should the day arrive that coonskin hats and coyote coats become all the rage again, I'll be among the first to be armed and dangerous.



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