Hunting philosophy for (and by) almost everyone

by Tovar on September 5, 2010 · 51 comments

A philosopher I am not.

Not in the academic sense, at least. My formal education in the subject consists of a single undergraduate class—“Reason and Argument”—which left me impressed by the contortions through which the human animal is willing to put its gray matter.

So, some fifteen months ago, when I saw a “call for abstracts” for a new anthology of philosophical essays on hunting, I had reason to doubt my suitability as a contributor. The editor welcomed abstracts from philosophy, of course, and also from a number of other disciplines—such as anthropology, political theory, and theology—in which I was equally unqualified.

Yet there was this one little phrase. They also welcomed abstracts from “thoughtful hunters.”

After a few helpful email exchanges with the editor, Nathan Kowalsky of the University of Alberta, I said, “What the heck. Why not?” and shot from the hip, firing off a 250-word description of the 4,500-word essay I would write if he and his colleagues wanted me to.

A month later, I got word that they did.

Hello. Time to step up to the plate and deliver “Hunting Like a Vegetarian: Same Ethics, Different Flavors.”

Jump a year ahead and here we are: the book, Hunting: In Search of the Wild Life, has just been released, as part of Wiley-Blackwell’s series Philosophy for Everyone.

My complimentary copy hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t give you a review.

What I can do is tell you that the mix of voices is remarkable. In addition to contributions from a fascinating group of folks who, unlike me, are trained in philosophy (including environmentalist and vegan Lisa Kretz and weapons fanatic Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza), there are essays, for example, by Canadian zoologist Valerius Geist, Algonquin hunter Jacob Wawatie, and historian and bird-trap builder Paula Young Lee.

I can also point you to the partial preview available on Google Books.

And I can point you to the first review of the book (review copies go out early), posted on Sustainablog by Justin Van Kleeck who, appropriately enough to my way of thinking, is vegan.

Enjoy! And I promise: my next post will not be about books, present or future.

Note: If you end up with a copy of the book in hand, and decide to read my essay, two small caveats. First, it is a smidge drier than my average blog post. Second, no sooner had the editing been finalized than I learned that some of the greenhouse gas figures given in the U.N. report Livestock’s Long Shadow, which I reference early in the essay, had been discredited. Ah well, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts.

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{ 51 comments }

Richard Mellott September 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

The publishing of your point of view is an important step in keeping your potential career as a writer viable, we all know that. However, it is the validation that really is a motivating factor in keeping you going. So nice to see that you’ve taken up the gauntlet for this particular “philosophy” of interaction with the world, that of the hunter gatherer. As one of those who you represent, I am truly grateful for your efforts.

Justin Van Kleeck September 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

It may be “a smidge drier” than your usual posts, but it is still an excellent essay…one of the best in the anthology in my opinion. Great job, and I am glad you decided to contribute.

NorCal Cazadora September 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I was wondering if I was going to beat you to the punch on blogging this. I got my review copy well over a week ago and just started reading it this weekend – very cool so far, though I think Kretz’s essay is predictable and easy to pick holes in (though she serves as an excellent reminder that anti-hunters are very quick to pick up on our self-criticisms).

Your essay was excellent, though I’m already so familiar you with that it seemed like review :-).

Tovar September 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Richard: My pleasure.

Justin: Thanks!

NorCal: I look forward both to the anthology and to your take on it. With 70,000 words to play with, hopefully my book won’t feel like review, too — at least not all of it. ;-)

Nathan September 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Ahah! Thanks for the announcement, Tovar. Cheers, Nathan

Tovar September 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

You’re most welcome, Nathan. It’s been fun working with you. Here’s hoping we get to meet (and maybe hunt) in person one of these days!

Nathan September 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Indeed, sounds good!

NorCal Cazadora September 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Hey Nathan, I liked your introductory story too. It set a nice tone, and I like your voice.

Nathan September 6, 2010 at 12:51 am

Thanks NorCal, that’s very kind! I rehashed that story a bit from my doctoral dissertation, am glad that it turned out well.

Richard Mellott September 6, 2010 at 4:44 am

Hi Nathan, Tovar, Norcal, et al,
I just finished watching the Temple Grandin story, and seems to me she has expressed many ideals that we share about the animals we use for meat. I wonder if any of you has seen it? She’s an author, and also a person on the Autism Spectrum, and she teaches Animal Husbandry at Colorado State University. Her message is not that we shouldn’t eat meat, but that we should respect those animals we use for meat, and she designs humane slaughterhouses, feedlots, and other ways that the industrial factory farms deal with animal behavior.
I was quite moved by her story, because it mostly dealt with her journey growing up with Autism, as I did with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. Now, she’s a professor at CSU, and I teach at two different schools at once, and I’m a Special Ed teacher who deals with the type of student that is described in the movie. But the message about our relationship with the “prey” animals was pretty strong, and she “joined” their world, in order to envision how to treat them with respect, as we do. It’s worth a look.

Tovar September 6, 2010 at 7:48 am

Yes, Grandin certainly has an interesting take on these things. I’m familiar with her writing and have heard radio interviews with her, but haven’t seen the video you mention.

NorCal Cazadora September 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Richard, I heard about that movie on NPR, but haven’t seen it. But her book, “Animals Make Us Human,” profoundly influenced my views about why we hunt, even though the book scarcely mentioned hunting.

Does the movie address her feelings on hunting? I’ve always wondered, because her focus is on instantaneous, stress-free death, which as we all know, hunting doesn’t always afford.

Richard Mellott September 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Hi Holly,
No, she doesn’t address it directly, it just seems that the inference would be that she has done what she can to make their deaths less stressful and more respectful. She discusses using other animals for meat, and that they should have lives that are less stressed during the feedlot process. She also identifies with them, so there are multiple scenes of her sitting or lying down in corrals full of cattle. See her Squeeze Chute Therapy! It’s sure a good giggle, but it also points out the way some of our animal behavior works. It soothes her, and she tries to return the favor, by designing cattle-friendly feedlots and slaughterhouses.
She seemed puzzled about death, and always asking, “Where did they go?” I haven’t read any of her literature, but since I’m involved in the ASD community, I am aware of her work. I also grew up “different,” so I did my share of tearing up during the movie. It is a very moving experience.

Kevin Peer September 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Thanks for letting us know about this book, Tovar. I just now ordered a copy. I seem to never tire of reading about the spiritual/philosophical dimensions of the hunting phenomenon…

Today I was reading a thread on the ArcheryTalk forum titled “If you could get away with shooting a wolf..would you do it?” (http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=1306826&page=5). I was reminded of the importance of your blog (and your upcoming book) in representing hunting in a more integrated and respectful way. As you will see if your visit the thread, the range of emotions regarding the topic of wolves brings up strong emotions and ancient animosities (to put it mildly) It also shows how much ‘ammunition’ the less thoughtful members of the hunting community provide to anti-hunting organizations through the public posting of their views. Some of the posts are quite astounding.

I have been kicking around the idea recently of creating a feature-length documentary film on hunting in America. Tovar you may recall that I was a staff producer/director for National Geographic once upon a time (did I tell you that?). This idea is really starting to get its teeth into me..

Hunting season is upon me, and in a few days I will be afield for blacktail deer with bow and arrow. For that I am very grateful.

Fare well!

Nathan September 7, 2010 at 11:57 am

Great idea for a film, Kevin!

While the topic of “vermin” in hunting was on the original Call for Abstracts, unfortunately it didn’t make it into the final cut. :(

Eric Nuse September 26, 2010 at 10:19 am

Kevin,
Barrett Productions is currently fund raising to do a 2 hour documentary for the History Channel called “Democracy of the Wild”. The Hunting Heritage Trust is behind the production. the focus is on the sportsmen-supported conservation in America. They need $500,000 to go forward, with $250,000 pledged by HHT.

Kevin Peer September 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Ah, never mind about the ArcheryTalk thread. It looks like the administrators removed it – and wisely so. As I said above, some of the posts were quite astounding (as in oh boy, wish you hadn’t said that…)

Tovar September 7, 2010 at 6:00 am

Good to hear from you, Kevin. I hope you enjoy the book.

And thanks for mentioning the now-defunct ArcheryTalk thread. As you’d guess, I have real trouble with that kind of intense anti-wolf, anti-coyote attitude (as does Sue Morse, the hunter-conservationist I recently profiled here). I actually have a tangentially related post bubbling on the back burner. I can imagine the nastiness you read on the forum.

I would like to see American hunting become “more integrated and respectful,” as you put it. In part, I think that involves improving hunting among hunters who mean well. In part, I think it also involves condemning horrific attitudes and behaviors where we see them.

I’m intrigued by your documentary film idea and look forward to hearing more! This academic year, I’m doing research on hunting and interviewing hunters.

Justin Van Kleeck September 7, 2010 at 6:48 am

If you are interested in the wolf/anti-wolf debate, you should check out Ted William’s old Incite article from Audubon magazine, online here: http://www.audubonmagazine.org/features0705/incite.html. I remember reading this years ago and feeling absolutely mortified at the attitudes expressed, even though it is understandable how a rancher or farmer would be upset if wolves and coyotes (occasionally) kill livestock. Still, it is a shame that many people still deny the importance of top predators like wolves to the ecosystem’s overall health–something that has been known since Aldo Leopold made such a strong case for it back in the 1920s and ’30s.

Richard Mellott September 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Hi Justin,
I am a lifelong hunter, former vegetarian, and have gone back and forth on this issue. I did use the link you provided to read the article, which was excellent. I’ve read Aldo Leopold, and also have seen the movie, “Never Cry Wolf,” based on the book by Farley Mowhat. I definitely think the wolf gets a raw deal, and I wouldn’t consider hunting them, even if given the chance. However, I might hunt bears, because they’re good to eat. I’ve debated hunting coyote, since they are a nuisance where I live. However, it’s true, as the person in the article said, “…coyotes thrive under those conditions, but wolves disappear.”
I guess to me the problem with hunting is that it’s been commercialized, and as such, doesn’t present its traditional face in the media, or sometimes in the profession. If any of these discussions had really been happening when I was a kid, I would have laughed them off, because they would have been difficult to justify. Where I lived, everyone hunted, knew someone who hunted, and enjoyed wild meat. Now, with the factory farms, and the huge push to consume from the very generation that was supposed to put an end to the Military-Industrial Complex, I’m somewhat bitter about how my own generation treats the Earth.
When I go hunting, it is often alone, and I may never find game, but I always find peace in watching wildlife. It is my reconnection to nature that I seek, and when I do get game animals, it is just part of what I consider a natural process. I fish that way, and I hunt that way. I usually fish at night, because of two things: I see all of the seabirds and seal up close and personal, and the fish are really active. I get to see bottlenose dolphin, pelicans, herons, egrets, gulls, and many other species up close, within 20 feet, all night long, and it is so much a part of fishing, I don’t know what I would do without my “gallery.”
So, while I understand your viewpoint, I want to ask you a question: how much do you pay for your license to not hunt, not fish, and how much money do you donate to foundations that preserve wetlands, instead of putting in soy bean fields, so you can eat your tofu?
There’s an old saying: “You have to put your money where your mouth is.” That seems quite appropriate to ask, especially when I know what kind of investment I make to keep these animals thriving, so that I can see them, and maybe catch a few for the stew pot. I gave up being a vegetarian, so my committment is to be left out for the condors, like the Rosicrucians…but I’m worried that the lead and other heavy metals in my body might poison them!

Justin Van Kleeck September 8, 2010 at 6:51 am

Hello Richard. I do not want to try to serve as a spokesman or poster boy for veganism and environmentalism, but I do want to respond to your questions for me. I donate nearly 10% of my GROSS annual income to charities, most of which work on preserving natural habitats and protecting wildlife–WWF, Nature Conservancy, etc.–as well as ones working to help developing and poverty-stricken areas. For myself, I only buy organic foods, and I avoid soybeans like the plague. I focus on buying local whenever I can and supporting local, sustainable agriculture, as well as growing some of my own food (in very limited conditions). I deplore modern agriculture as much as, in fact more than, hunting, as it has vastly worse consequences on the environment as a whole, not just some animals. Lastly, I am a very strict vegan and actually fruitarian, so I also consume a lot less than most folks yet live a fully healthy life, including time spent outdoors enjoying nature and the animals that I love (without hunting them). I have great concern for animals and our treatment of them, but over and above that is our treatment of the planet as a whole and finding ways to reduce our impact on the resources all beings need and share.

It is for this last reason that I think hunting can find some justifiable ground to stand on, on a purely practical level, when it is done fully ethically. I am conjuring up some “guidelines” for ethical hunting (from a vegan!!!!!) and may write a post about it on my own blog. But at least let me say I appreciate your consideration and attitudes in your hunting. In the long run, though, I think we can find fully sustainable (even more sustainable) ways to live on this planet that do not involve killing animals OR idiotic “modern” agriculture.

NorCal Cazadora September 8, 2010 at 10:56 am

Justin, I appreciate much of your outlook, though obviously we disagree on the core issue of hunting. I’m glad you acknowledge that the real evil out there is factory farming of all sorts. I wonder if, had we humans never gone to factory farming or even agriculture, you would be more at ease with your natural place in the food chain. Perhaps not – I know there are always people who will either dislike meat itself, or feel too much empathy with animals to eat them, but I still wonder.

I think your take on ethical hunting would be interesting, but I must caution you that most hunters will regard it with suspicion and skepticism. The parallel – which doesn’t necessarily apply to you – is the Humane Society of the U.S., which constantly trots out “hunter ethics” in its debates. It is utterly disingenuous, since the key players at HSUS all believe hunting itself is unethical; they just use ethics as a wedge to sway non-hunting public opinion. One idea to avoid turning off the audience you seek to address might be to invite ideas from hunters and turn it into a discussion.

On a larger issue that doesn’t really address what Justin has been saying: I also think there is some risk in the new breed of hunters coming off as having superior ethics to established hunters. I’ve caught a whiff of quite a bit of this from some of the aspiring hunters I know here in NorCal – “I’m going to be different; I won’t poach; I’ll only kill what I eat.” The reality is plenty of established hunters feel and act the same way, despite exhibiting redneck clothing, accent, etc. I personally get pretty resentful when someone who’s newer to this than I am assumes that the rest of us are doing it WRONG. It’s arrogant, and ignorant.

I know Tovar has had some personal and vicarious contact with the wrong-headed hunters – careless toward animals and property. But I have to say I’ve met a LOT of hunters since I started up four years ago – in person, in forums, on my blog – and I have found the vast majority to feel much like I do, albeit perhaps not able to articulate it the same way. Which I expect, because I’m a writer – clear articulation is my JOB. Many of these guys are in construction, engineering, etc., and words have never been their forte.

OK, end of lecture. Much work to do today on my paid job!

Justin Van Kleeck September 8, 2010 at 11:01 am

Hello (again) NorCal. It is hard for me to say what I “might” have thought in another situation, as far as factory farming goes, but I do have to say that my veganism and activism starts from my love of / empathy with animals above and beyond the factory farming issue. But who is to say? As for the writing on hunting ethics, you make a very good point. I always try to be more about dialogue/discussion than dictation, but I fear it will sound like that to anyone of the opposing camp…and I am not sure how deeply I want to get into the debate. My main focus is on how I live, not how others live…as the only thing I can control is the former. Thank you for the comments and for being a mindful hunter!

Tovar September 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Good reminder, Holly, regarding there being “some risk in the new breed of hunters coming off as having superior ethics to established hunters.” I’ve heard and read things that reek of that, and have probably fallen into that trap myself at times.

I think that we “nouveau hunters” bring some different and worthwhile perspectives to the pursuit, but my experience is that most lifelong hunters (writers and non-writers alike!) take ethics seriously and have high standards. Of the hunters I know, the majority share my basic desire to see hunting improve and to cull the brutish, cruel behavior.

A few others, I’m afraid, don’t seem to care much — about animal suffering, ethical issues, etc.

Richard Mellott September 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Hi Everybody,
While I’m returning to hunting after an absence, I’ve been one since I was around 8 or 9, which puts it in the early ’60s. Born in ’53, I’ve been around hunting most, if not all my life, even if I wasn’t an active participant. That said, while I’m not a “new” hunter, I’ve always spent time thinking about how I come off as a hunter, and what my choices meant, for me and the animals I prey upon. I have hunted with all types of people, and it isn’t difficult for me to distinguish the good apples from the bad.
I agree that we should not try to distinguish ourselves from hunters in general, but trying to be vocal is just a way we’ve grown up, at least us former or current hippie types. I tend to blend in now, because my hair is gone, and I can do a mean “redneck” impression, but the truth is, I’m more aligned with Justin, and I’m glad to see he walks his talk. “Sorry about the tofu, sheriff!” with my apologies to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles!

Kevin Peer September 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Good Morning Justin,

You are definitely the most gracious and open vegan to the topic of hunting I have ever met – I am enjoying the dialogue.

One thing I would caution you about however is superimposing your own ability to sustain your body as a strict vegan onto all humans. I was a vegetarian for many years and a pretty smart one I think (combining the right foods to maximize protein etc), but my health deteriorated as a result. That became the main motivating factor in my becoming a hunter – to provide the animal protein that my body was screaming for in the most ethical way I could.

It might be worth keeping in mind when you say you look forward to the day in which no animals will be killed for human food, that some people actually and genuinely need to eat animal protein. The Dalai Lama himself tried to be a vegetarian when he went into exile in India. He writes in his autobiography about how dire his health condition became until he once again incorporated meat into his diet.

One diet does not fit all, is all I am saying.

Good day to you!

Justin Van Kleeck September 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Thank you for the kind words, Kevin, and for the admonition–which is definitely something to keep in mind. I guess my only response would be that vegetarian and vegan diets have been proven to be healthy (even healthier) for most people, of all ages, by most health agencies, including the ADA: http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357. However, they may not work for everyone for a variety of reasons. That said, I am not convinced that humans as a species are biologically *required* to eat meat at present; I have seen no convincing evidence to this day, after a long time of being a vegan, for that argument.

Regardless of that, and whatever my idealized states of a vegan world might be, my primary concern is just finding ways for the meat eaters of the world to do so in ways that reduce, as much as possible, the suffering of the animals. There is so much work to do just to achieve an *ethical* level of meat eating; anything beyond that would be gravy–vegan gravy, of course.

NorCal Cazadora September 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Healthier *than what*? I think that’s the crucial question here. I can easily see how eating vegetarian would be healthier than a diet of factory-farmed foods and factory-farmed meat sin particular, but better than eating animals raised naturally? Not so much. It’s not wild game that’s causing heart disease…

Kevin Peer September 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Hello Justin,

There is a good deal of disagreement about the studies stating the long-term benefits of the vegetarian and vegan diet, so in that area we will have to cordially agree to disagree. The negative health effects of tofu in particular are very well documented. I would also caution against referencing the ADA in defense of the vegetarian/vegan diet. The ADA has strong ties to ag multinationals like Monsanto that have major stakes in the growing of for instance, soybeans.

Justin Van Kleeck September 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Hello Kevin. Fair enough, and I would agree with you 100% on tofu/soybeans–I avoid them completely for a multitude of reasons. But tofu/soy need not be a part of a veg*n diet at all. And there are a wealth of studies on the benefits of veg*n diets; a recent one is from the Annals of Internal Medicine: http://www.annals.org/content/153/5/289.abstract.

But arguing for one diet/lifestyle or the other solely on health factors will be both incomplete and always open to debate…so personally I think a person has to weigh health along with other things, like affect on the environment, ethics, etc. I was not trying to argue for veg*n lifestyles solely on diet but responding to your particular question; I hope the rest of my comments on this post will show that I see this issue from a bigger perspective, which it surely has to be seen from.

By the way, thanks to everyone…I have really enjoyed being part of this discussion–an odd thing to say as a vegan amongst hunters, but true nonetheless.

Tovar September 11, 2010 at 8:33 am

Glad you feel welcome here, Justin. That’s the idea!

Tovar September 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm

I’m thoroughly enjoying the continued exchange, folks. And, to misuse a metaphor, I’m beginning to think vegetarians-turned-hunters grow on trees or something. ;-)

Richard Mellott September 8, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Hi Tovar,
Actually, I’ve been told I’m a fungi to be around. Now, I’ll go back to work…

Kevin Peer September 7, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Nice to hear from you, Tovar.

The ArcheryTalk bowhunting forum is a fascinating place to get a feel for the range of attitudes among hunters. Unfortunately I have found a solid contingent of bowhunters there who have a complete allergy to the topic of ethics. If someone expresses the opinion that such and such a bow shot was not the most ethical (a head shot, a really long range shot, a shot on a moving animal that led to it being wounded, etc), then that someone is immediately called “The ethics police”, a “pansy”, a “liberal” and worse. They’re told to shut up and go away and not push their ethics on others (even if there was no evidence of proselytizing).

The anti-ethics folk apparently regard the notion of ethics in hunting as a form of control over their freedom of individual expression by liberals and the weak. Some of them connect ethics with dictatorship (I kid you not), although these freedom lovers are also very keen to shut down the discussion of ethics by others if they can. The subject, as far as they are concerned, is simply not to be brought up.

I usually chime in and state my belief that we hunters should do what we can to minimize the suffering of our quarry. I also point out that the folks who show no regard for ethics – especially on a public forum – are easy ammunition for their hated enemy PETA. I point out that in a democracy, which they claim to love, that public opinion leads to public policy – and if they want to be able to hunt in the future then it is best not to come across as a proponent of sadism for entertainment. That usually begins to change the discussion just slightly.

I regard this allergy to ethics to be part pathology, part fear, part lack of ability for more subtle thinking. My first encounter with a chronology of this pathology in book form was in Peter Matthiessen’s Wildlife in America. That was a devastating read for a sensitive teen like me!

Anyway, this is part of what I want a film to address…

Good day to all!

Justin Van Kleeck September 7, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hey Kevin, speaking as a vegan against hunting, I would welcome a film like this. I have no illusions that will hunting will stop any time soon, so at the very least an improvement in the ethical nature of it would be welcome. And I have to admit that in some cases, when done mindfully and in more “traditional” manners, hunting does have a very strong argument for being justifiable–not a *convincing* argument for me personally, but still very strong. I would love to see the film you describe come about.

Oh, and thank you for being a voice for ethics and consideration in hunting forums.

Kevin Peer September 7, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for your comment, Justin, and for the link to the article (which I am reading as we ‘speak – fascinating!). Thanks also for ‘being a vegan’ with an open mind.

I think part of the allergy to ethics among some hunters is the classic denial of feeling by the wounded macho psyche. They fear that consideration towards their quarry is going to contract their manhood the same way as jumping into very cold water.

Many if not most of these folks believe that the future of hunting is doomed. And without the promotion of ethics and more responsible behavior I believe they may be correct. I feel that Tovar’s work and the work of others like him are vital for the future of hunting. One reason being that it will give ‘permission’ for the more sensitive among us hunters to be the way we are without apology. I can just see it: Ethical Hunting Support Groups across the country!

Sorry Tovar – I don’t mean to hijack this thread!

Justin Van Kleeck September 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hey Kevin, thank you for the reply. (And sorry, Tovar, to keep hijacking.) You are probably on to something in your reasoning, but I think it also is more systemic: in general, people care little about the ethics of their lifestyle choices and do things simply out of desire and some misguided notion of “personal freedom.” Sadly, that usually means doing serious harm to the planet out of selfishness. While I oppose killing animals and think we can live fully healthy and enjoyable lives without doing it, I think *ethical* hunting along traditional lines is so close to being acceptable, within limits, that I am not going to dither or rage against mindful hunters. Quite the contrary…partially because that approach seems like a better chance to actually come to appreciate animals enough NOT to kill them anymore. At the very least, it would end factory farming and force people to confront the realities of their lifestyle choices that rely on animals…and get us back into nature.

NorCal Cazadora September 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Ugh – the forums. This is why I spend most of my online conversation time on blogs, not in the forums. Forums are the ONLY place where I’ve heard misogynist crap about not wanting women in the field because guys hunt to get away from us.

The interesting thing is that when you peel some individuals away from the forums, the chest-thumping stops and real conversations ensue.

Tovar September 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I was busy and without computer access most of today. Thanks very much to all, for continuing the conversation in my absence. Great contributions!

By the way, I don’t mind thread-jacking; I enjoy seeing where the tangents go and often take part in lengthening them.

In this case, I don’t even see any hijacking, as all of the above is highly relevant to “philosophies of hunting.”

Joshua September 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Congratulations, Tovar. One day I, too, hope to get to writin’.

Tovar September 8, 2010 at 6:17 am

Thanks, Josh. I’m sure you will!

Arthur September 8, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Tovar,

Unfortunately, my life is a touch crazy right now, and I don’t have time to read the entire exchange, but I at least wanted to voice my congratulations. You, my friend, are definitely on a roll lately.

Tovar September 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

Thanks, Arthur!

Your life is “a touch crazy” at the moment? I resemble that remark. Hence my low profile in comments on various folks’ fine blogs of late…

Gorges Smythe September 12, 2010 at 12:53 am

I have no complaints with those who are vegetarian because they think it’s healthier, don’t like the flavor of meat, or just plain don’t have the heart to eat something else that breathes. I DO have a problem with the ignorant, self-righteous souls that think they are somehow morally superior because they eat bean sprouts and organic corn fritters. I haven’t read enough of your writings to know just where you once fit into that picture, but welcome to the real world. You add an obviously different take on the subject.

Tovar September 12, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Gorges.

If you do end up reading more of my writings, I imagine you’ll conclude (as I have) that I was, at various times, a vegetarian of every kind you suggest: health-oriented, turned-off-by-meat, unwilling-to-kill, and self-righteous, too.

6512 and growing September 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Congratulations on your essay making it into this book.

We too are vegetarians turned hunters and I am right now awaiting the return of my husband, whom I just heard, via scratchy cell phone at 11,700 feet, got an elk with his handmade bow. Soon the fun of family butchering will begin.

I believe the world needs more mindful carnivores (there’s plenty of carnivores already, but perhaps a little more mindfulness would heal some of the real problems surrounding eating animals).

Thanks,
Rachel

Tovar September 17, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Hey, Rachel, thanks for stopping by! It’s good to “meet” another pair of ex-veggie mindful carnivores.

And congratulations to your husband on his successful elk hunt, with a handmade bow, no less!

Eric Nuse September 26, 2010 at 10:40 am

Tovar,
In Justin’s review of the book, I liked what he said about your contribution:
“Now, Hunting does not close the door for contribution to all anti-hunters. We get entirely critical essays, such as Lisa Kretz’s “A Shot in the Dark: The Dubious Prospects of Environmental Hunting.” And there are also those that treat both sides very fairly, such as Tovar Cerulli’s “Hunting Like a Vegetarian: Same Ethics, Different Flavors.” This essay, from a vegan turned hunter (yes, my heart aches at writing that), is in fact the strongest, most compelling discussion about hunting, as well as for hunting, that I have ever read, and it stretched my vegan brain quite thoroughly to find rebuttals to his reasoning.”
Good Job!

Tovar September 26, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Thanks, Eric! It was a kind mention on Justin’s part.

Rodney Elmer September 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I suppose it makes sense to watch what you eat. This blog is intriguing and my father would laugh! (1975)The first time I heard any talk like this my father asked me”What do plants eat?” I said “dirt, basically broken down rock, Minerals, right?”Yes” What do animals eat? “Plants”, was my response. And what do we eat? “Plants & animals!” OR!!!??? “ROCKS!!” Lets just face it and move on , education is the most important key a tribal society can pass to the next generation. To learn from past mistakes, to have stories bring history alive to benefit those who would listen and apply it in their futures. The human mind is a time machine fluctuating between the future and history, recalling and predicting to aid in our survival. The fallen fruit’s story seems boring now doesn’t it.

Tovar September 28, 2010 at 9:50 am

Thanks for stopping by, Rodney!