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Riding Shotgun With a Bowhunter: An Anti-hunting Odyssey.

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"Today's wildlife management philosophy is based on propagating game animal populations for the sole purpose of increasing hunter recreation. Prescribed burning or clearcutting of forests to promote more game animals necessarily results in the ...deterioration of biological diversity."

Luke A. Dommer; late President and founder of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting.

"Sport hunting is an evil that has no redeeming virtues. Regrettably, most people (including many members of environmental organizations) consider public hunting to be a minor ecological issue, or no issue at all. But modern sport hunting, and the system that helps to perpetuate it, is a significant factor, and in some areas the primary factor, that has destroyed the balance of nature."

Ron Baker; naturalist and author of The American Hunting Myth.

"If I had my crossbow right now I could drop that deer faster than a heartbeat", blustered Johnny the tow truck-driver when spotting a deer grazing peacefully along the roadside. The hunter was in the process of hauling me and my broken down Ford the 90 miles from a psychotically congested DC Inner Loop back to my refuge in the foothills of Blue Ridge. I was, in a very real sense, being held captive (at least as helpless audience) by a self proclaimed "Deer Slayer". This is a title reserved only for the most evangelical type bowhunter, a zealous trophy hunter of the worst kind. I prefer to call them Bowbarians.

Here was this macho, burly hunter attempting to pump his image by boasting to me about his many hunting skills, and kills. Unfortunately for me, and especially for all the fallen animal victims of killers like him, I didn't, and felt I couldn't, respond in an appropriate challenging manner.

You see, I am a dedicated anti-hunting activist, a vehement opponent of all forms of hunting and the institutionalized management (read manipulation) of wildlife for that purpose. I have made it my personal business, my mission, for twenty years now to bring the whole bloody hunting affair to an abrupt end. I also served as Vice President of the infamous national organization, the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting (CASH), and I am an ally to many local, national, and international animal rights and environmental protection groups.

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So I knew from over two decades of intense activism, featuring many an explosive encounter with a zealous trophy hunter, like my Bowbarian driver for instance, that by revealing my "anti" position early it would have pitched me into a highly vulnerable position with Johnny. "You've certainly been a busy hunter havn't you"?, I said, tight-lipped and growing increasingly pissed off. What this brazen man behind the wheel did not know, however, and what I decided he wasn't going to know, at least until he had towed me the entire distance home, was he was actively transporting his enemy.

For those who may still be reading and may be interested in learning more about this controversial issue, perhaps because you never ever get to see any coverage about organized opposition to hunting in America, I suggest searching CASH's website, and the many other anti-hunting sites, to gain information, history, and valuable perspective on the American anti-hunting movement.

Back to my odyssey. I should expand on what anti-hunters like myself are after. We demand topdown reform of all government wildlife mismanagement agencies of the nation. They're all bureaucracies corrupted by powerful organized hunters that brazenly exploit wildlife ("game") and our natural environment for the interests and benefits of the hunting establishment. We want nothing less than an immediate ban of all hunting (and trapping which is equally as unnecessary and evil) on all public lands, millions of acres of state and national parks, military lands, and especially our National Wildlife Refuge System, which has been systematically pried open on over 300 of these supposedly inviolate sanctuaries to sport and trophy hunters and trappers.

For some people, Johnny's type of morbid boasting wouldn't present a problem. For reasons only a psychologically trained person should posit - I think primarily it's callous insensitivity to animal suffering and cruelty - these folks possess no particular feelings or opinions on the topic of sport hunting. The systemic manipulation and exploitation of wildlife for the sole purpose of killing for sport and trophies, IE., "game" management and hunting, is of no particular concern to them.

The largely ignored fact here is that there are far too many of these indifferent individuals, yes even your family, friends, and neighbors, who are living amongst us during the most critically threatening period in the history of life of Earth. Ours is an omnicidal and dystopic epoch, an era marked by gross human overpopulation, suffering, and starvation, environmental destruction, ecosystem collapse, mass extinction of species, escalations of violence and killing, sectarian and religious fanaticism, maniacal militarism (the Bush, now Obama years), multiple wars, and predicaments ad infinitum. Yet, in the face of all these critical ills, and in spite of them, they manage to carry on their lives apparently without thought, concern, or attention to our plight.

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I've come to suspect they must be brain dead, and perhaps dead in the heart and spirit. Maybe they're just plain ignorant and stupid. But thoughtlessly condoning the abuse and killing of hundreds of millions of sentient wild animals, every year, killing only for recreational kicks and male validation, well, I marvel at their sheer inhumanity.

For the record, I want to make an important admission. It really must be important because when I publicly challenge any hunter, or the hunting hierarchy at large, somebody always brings it up; Bambi the Disney deer. Yes, I do love Bambi. Yes, I am a sentimental person and a Bambi lover. Personally, I would have written the classic Disney script differently. You remember that great stag, Bambi's genetically superior Buck father, who was shot by the anonymous hunter? In my script he would have been spared death by the intervention of a radical hunt saboteur (the hero!), who only a millisecond before the murdering hunter pulled his trigger, blew his airhorn and frightened Bambi's father off to safety. Surely a happier ending for all.

Being an anti-hunting activist, I'm typically outspoken. Some might say relentless in my pursuit of deer slayers. Given this history, obviously I wanted to announce my opposition to Johnny's "sport" and immediately challenge him.

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Glenn Kirk is a social and ecological justice activist, dedicated anti-hunter, and chronic issue provocateur, ie., op-ed writer.

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