I don't know how many are familiar with it yet, but there is a new organization out there calling itself the "World Hunting Association" ( WHA ) . The purpose of WHA is to make hunting into a kind of absurd reality TV show ( it is not shown on TV, footage must be viewed on their website, which I will not do them the favor of linking to ) in which contestants "hunt" ( term used loosely) whitetail bucks on an enclosed Michigan ranch in a tournament for cash prizes. It is apparently supposed to be modeled on the popularity of fishing tournaments. Of course, the difference is glaring. Fishing tournaments are based on catch and release in which anglers must release their catches unharmed. Hunting, however, is of course lethal.
I take a number of ethical issues with what WHA is doing. First, hunting should be a private experience that is done alone or with one's friends and family. It is an experience that is both joyful and solemn at the same time. It should not be a bizarre public spectacle like a Roman gladiatorial contest. To make it such shows gross disrespect for both wildlife and hunting traditions IMHO. Second, is the fair chase issue. "Hunting" large game like deer in an enclosed area like this is not fair chase because it serves to limit the natural abilities of the animal, particularly the ability to elude and escape, and because it lowers the amount of skill required of the hunter. Third is the issue of monetary prizes for hunting. This is also an affront to ethical hunting tradition. The only rewards from hunting should be food for the table, memories, time well spent with nature, one's self, and one's companions, and perhaps a well-earned trophy of a magnificent specimen. A $600,000 check from a scantily clad bimbo for killing an enclosed animal doesn't fit into the equation.
The only purpose of the WHA is to cheapen the hunting tradition and experience and to make a mockery of ethical hunters who hunt in a spirit of fair chase, conservation, and sportsmanship. Many well known, respected members of the outdoor community have rightfully come out and condemned WHA. Among them:
- Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops, the nation's largest hunting and fishing
- The Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young Clubs, keepers of hunting records
- Mossy Oak brand camouflage
I would encourage all, hunter and non-hunter alike, to join in this condemnation. Sorry for the rant, but this subject has been bugging me for a while and I had to get it off the my chest. Few things ruffle my feathers more than crass, unethical "hunters" and those that support them. ARAs, excluding the ALF types, do not make me as angry as these people do. I rank "slob hunters" just below pedophiles, wife beaters, and terrorists in the amount of disdain I harbor for them.