This week on MeatEater, you’ll be seeing some of the rawest and most graphic footage we’ve ever aired. The entire episode was filmed in one day, on a pig hunt in New Zealand. As weapons, we were using two dogs and a knife. The material is controversial, in terms of both the bloodiness and what might be described by some as the “the lack of challenge” in killing an animal that’s been subdued by dogs. While I lay out my stance on hunting big game with dogs in my new book, Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter, I’ll reiterate by saying that I’m all for it. However, I do understand that the discipline might be perceived by some as tasteless, and I welcome any responses you all might have after seeing the show.
In the spirit of open dialogue, I’d like to point out some of the replies that we received in response to an article that I wrote last week about canned hunts. While many people agreed with my distaste for the practice (sometimes even more vehemently than me), a number of folks wrote in to question and/or criticize my beliefs.
A few folks raised the point that canned hunts aren’t always easy, and that sometimes free-range hunts are. I’d say this is certainly true. If you turned a single squirrel loose on a 200-acre parcel of heavily timbered ground that was encircled by a squirrel-proof fence, you’d have a hell of a tough hunt on your hands. Conversely, there’s nothing too hard about hunting an abundant population of free-range squirrels in a beech grove in mid-September.
Another good point was raised by a man named Lance Owens, who had a particularly interesting and well-thought perspective. He wrote this note (this is a slightly modified version – it was shortened):
“What good comes from arguing against canned hunts? I get the point of hunting. I have my own proud history as a hunter and a meat eater. But my question arises as a result of my father’s handicapped physical abilities. He is a man that has packed from one end of the Rockies to the other with bow and rifle alike. He successfully harvested more big animals than I could care to imagine packing out of those hills. He was a local legend in the waterfowling world! But a little more than a decade ago his spinal cord was injured during surgery. He is now 66 years old. He has more desire in his heart to hunt than ever. But with his limited mobility and physical limitations, he is unable to access most of our own ranch. He often talks about going on a high fenced hunt, but often gets shamed out of it by reading articles like yours. Where is the balance?
Let me ask you another question on the subject. Do you reject the financial support for hunting rights lobbyists that comes from those hunters who choose to spend their time harvesting animals under a high fence? Those people spend a lot of money for our cause….!
I think that we need to choose our battles and concentrate on those that oppose us… I have friends that find your show offensive because you are rarely seen without a rifle. Personally I don’t care. I use all of the legal hunting methods available with the exception of a crossbow. I tell those that oppose your use of a rifle that it’s legal and it’s your personal right and choice. I try to explain to them that they need to learn to appreciate what it means to the other hunter and that it isn’t about them.
The guys that do “hunting” shows under high fence are no different than the guys that do survival shows in a semi-controlled environment or with outside assistance. It’s just a show!”
Reading these comments makes me want to clarify something: I respect an open, honest debate far more than I disrespect high-wire fences. So please, feel free to express yourselves on any point that I bring up. I’m open to dissenting views and have been known to change my mind on quite a few things.
Finally, in the spirit of complete and total openness, I’d like to share a string of tweets that I received from a kind gentleman named Jack Tilton. I’m picturing him throwing back glasses of Southern Comfort between sentences, because how else could you explain his eloquent prose?
Steven I told you after the first episode that I don’t like you and I don’t the way you put on these hunting programs as you and the game wardens are just as bad if not worse. Steven in my opinion you aren’t a hunter your a money whore that will for money. You shows are terrible and you’ve got the manners of a 299 year old mountain man, I apologize that mountain folks no none at all. Steven is as bad as [name omitted] who calls himself a professional hunter but last year he shot a running mule deer buck that was huge and [name omitted] took a running shot at the deer in New Mexico and him him square in the ass. You and [name omitted] like you and I don’t like your show so don’t contact me. You are the kind of kid that’s bad for hunters and the sport.
Thanks for reaching out, Jack! And be sure to write again when you’re not wasted.