Op-Ed: Is Hunting a Sport? By Bob Moores

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We named him “Lucky” in hope that he would live up to his name. Our previous cats had succumbed to neighbors’ dogs or speeding cars.

Lucky liked to roam our woods in rural Baltimore County, always returning for food and to sleep in our garage. One afternoon, we noticed upon his homecoming that he had two puncture wounds in the pouch we called his belly. We took him to our vet who successfully repaired the damage. Forensic analysis matched what I had guessed: Lucky had been shot by an arrow. It looks like our naming strategy worked.

Hold that news for a while.

Definitions from dictionary.com:

To hunt: To chase or search for game (or other wild animals) for the purpose of catching or killing.

Sport: An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess often of a competitive nature.

In this piece, I am not talking about hunting wild animals for food. I am not talking about shooting wild animals to keep them from harming crops, domestic animals, or people. I am not talking about hunting wild animals with tranquilizer guns so they can be tagged for conservation.

No, I am talking about hunting and killing animals either for the sheer joy of it or as a test of your skill and (usually) manhood – to hang a trophy on your wall or phone.

A sport is a competitive test, is it not? How is shooting a defenseless animal with a high powered rifle, shotgun, or crossbow a competitive test? Can the animal shoot back? Has it studied your habits, so it knows how to approach with stealth and guile to gain the best chance of a kill? Does it have the military advantage of surprise? Weapon mismatch aside, does the animal compete fairly with the human hunter in mental acuity?

Many sport-fishermen, those who do not need the food, upon landing their catch release it. The fish has only temporary fatigue and a sore mouth for the experience. Not so with the hunting of birds and animals. Here the only way to claim the quarry is to kill it.
If you kill a wild animal for other than obtaining food or because it is a threat or nuisance, that is, for sport, should that be a source of pride? Think about it.

What if you give your quarry a “sporting chance,” a rather oxymoronic expression from one of my hunter friends? Say your target is a deer 300 yards away. You take the shot with your high-powered, telescope-equipped hunting rifle (as it was my father’s hobby to do).

What if you don’t score a “clean kill”? If the animal is wounded, runs away, and you can’t finish it off, then what? A skilled hunter might say that that situation is unlikely to occur.

Except – in the case of Lucky, it did occur. The bowman didn’t score a clean kill. Nor was he willing or able to pursue Lucky and finish the job. Why did he shoot Lucky? I don’t think cats are shot for food. Was Lucky being a pest? Maybe. But it’s more likely he was a target of opportunity for a frustrated bow-hunter.

Hunting was once (and in some places still is) a necessity. But it was never a sport.

Bob Moores retired from Black & Decker/DeWalt in 1999 after 36 years. He was the Director of Cordless Product Development at the time. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Deirdre LaMotte says:

    Thank you for writing this. One forgets the
    beating heart of every creature when
    “Commerce”, “sport”, and testosterone
    take presedent. Personally, I stop the car to help
    turtles cross the road, try to avoid frogs on a rainy drive and always go slow along
    known deer crossings. We all share this
    world and we must do all we can as humans
    to look after those that need our protection.
    I really cannot imagine killing….anything.

  2. J.M. Kramer says:

    With all due respect to Lucky and his owner, free range domestic cats, allowed by their owners to roam their own and neighbors backyards are a scourge of wildlife, particularly birds.
    While this does not reduce the meanness of someone shooting a pet–assuming they knew it was a pet and not a dangerous feral cat–it does point out that “indoor cats” have major advantages in terms of their own longevity as well as, often, survival for uncounted birds and other small animals in the neighborhood. Keep your cats indoors, problem solved!

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