Bruce Friedrich: Hunters Are Like "Nazi Doctors and Slave Traders"

Animal rights activists are having a fit because the Sierra Club recently published an article by Rick Bass, “Why I Hunt.” Bass’ article fits well in a long line of pro-hunting literature which sees hunting as almost a mystical way to connect with nature. Bass writes of taking up hunting after moving to a remote Montana valley in the 1980s,

Only about 5 percent of the nation and 15 to 20 percent of Montanans are hunters. But in this one valley, almost everyone is a hunter. It is not the peer pressure of the local culture that recruits us into hunting, nor even necessarily the economic boon of a few hundred pounds of meat in a cash-poor society. Rather, it is the terrain itself, and one’s gradual integration into it, that summons the hunter. Nearly everyone who has lived here for any length of time has ended up–sometimes almost against one’s conscious wishes–becoming a hunter. This wild and powerful landscape sculpts us like clay. I don’t find such sculpting an affront to the human spirit, but instead, wonderful testimony to our pliability, our ability to adapt to a place.

In response to Bass’ article, Bruce Friedrich fired off a letter to the editor saying,

I have no doubt that society will one day look back of [sic] Mr. Bass and his ilk with he same revulsion we presently reserve for NAZI doctors and slave traders.

But as Sierra Magazine editor-in-chief Joan Hamilton notes in her response to Friedrich, “Since the mid-19th century, sport hunters have been in the forefront of efforts to create laws to save animals from commercial hunting, poaching, and habitat destruction that threatens the very existence of many species. Also, many landmark environmental achievements have relied heavily on the efforts of hunters and hunting (and fishing) organizations.”

Hamilton crosses over into the worst sort of apostasy in they eyes of the animal rights movement when she writes what is obvious to anyone who seriously studies the issue,

Aside form the environmental contributions of hunters, in some cases, hunting is necessary to keep certain populations at sustainable levels and to maintain ecological balance by preventing some species from destroying others. For example, the deer population is now estimated to be double that which existed before the white conquest of North America. Excess deer will overbrowse forests, seriously harming the flora and thereby depriving other species of food and shelter.

How long before Friedrich is out front of the Sierra Club’s offices streaking to bring attention to the suffering of deer? Only time will tell.


Why I Hunt: Stalking wild game in a rugged landscape brings one environmentalist closer to nature. Rick Bass, Sierra Magazine, July 2001.

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