Some of the most memorable, and least regrettable, nights of my own youth were spent in coon hunting with farmers. There is no denying that these activities contributed to the economy of farm households, but a further fact is that they were pleasures; they were wilderness pleasures, not greatly different from the pleasures pursued by conservationists and wilderness lovers. As I was always aware, my friends the coon hunters were not motivated just by the wish to tree coons and listen to hounds and listen to each other, all of which were sufficiently attractive; they were coon hunters also because they wanted to be afoot in the woods at night. Most of the farmers I have known, and certainly the most interesting ones, have had the capacity to ramble about outdoors for the mere happiness of it, alert to the doings of the creatures, amused by the sight of a fox catching grasshoppers, or by the puzzle of wild tracks in the snow.
It came to him that he had turned away from the buffalo not because of a womanish nausea at blood and stench and spilling gut; it came to him that he had sickened and turned away because of his shock at seeing the buffalo, a few moments before proud and noble and full of the dignity of life, now stark and helpless, a length of inert meat, divested of itself, or his notion of its self, swinging grotesquely, mockingly, before him. It was not itself; or it was not that self that he had imagined it to be. That self was murdered; and in that murder he had felt the destruction of something within him, and he had not been able to face it. So he had turned away.
Since well before the Kung's engine noise first penetrated the forest, a conversation of sorts has been unfolding in this lonesome hollow. It is not a language like Russian or Chinese but it is a language nonetheless, and it is older than the forest. The crows speak it; the dog speaks it; the tiger speaks it, and so do the men--some more fluently than others.
Our first point of discussion is the hunt. (...) My idea is to start the film with an image of the vixen locked out of her lair which has been plugged up. Her terror as she's pursued across the country. This is a big deal. It means training a fox from birth or dressing up a dog to look like a fox. Or hiring David Attenbrorough, who probably knows a few foxes well enough to ask a favour.
None of the characters in (the story) were distinguished ones -- not even the lion.He was an old lion, prepared from birth to lose his life rather than to leave it. But he had the dignity of all free creatures, and so he was allowed his moment. It was hardly a glorious moment.The two men who shot him were indifferent as men go, or perhaps they were less than that. At least they shot him without killing him, and then turned the unsconscionable eye of a camera upon his agony. It was a small, a stupid, but a callous crime.
I have tonight begun reading a stupid, shitty book by Kerouac called Big Sur, and I would give a ball to wake up tomorrow on some empty ridge with a herd of beatniks grazing in the clearing about 200 yards below the house. And then to squat with the big boomer and feel it on my shoulder with the smell of grease and powder and, later, a little blood.
Hunting and fishing involve killing animals with devices (such as guns) for which the animals have not evolved natural defenses. No animal on earth has adequate defense against a human armed with a gun, a bow and arrow, a trap that can maim, a snare that can strangle, or a fishing lure designed for the sole purpose of fooling fish into thinking they have found something to eat
This for many people is what is most offensive about hunting to some, disgusting: that it encourages, or allows, us not only to kill but to take a certain pleasure in killing. It's not as though the rest of us don't countenance the killing of tens of millions of animals every year. Yet for some reason we feel more comfortable with the mechanical killing practiced, out of view and without emotion by industrial agriculture.