Have you ever heard of a “button buck”? I had to look it up.
A button buck is a fawn, less than six months old, whose antlers haven’t grown out. Instead, he has little bumps, or buttons, on his head where they will emerge—if he lives long enough. A young deer who was gunned down recently in Northern Virginia didn’t.
Writing about his slaughter in The Washington Post, the woman who killed him could hardly contain her glee. She’d butchered other animals but never a deer—apparently there aren’t enough to go around in Cape Cod, where she lives—and she was dead set on spilling blood.
The shot was “perfect,” a “red bloom” erupting behind the animal’s shoulder. When she took the deer to be cut into pieces, she “felt a brainstem level of satisfaction, walking in with blood on my boots, my deer in the truck.” She wasn’t as giddy about leaving with “a mere 14 pounds” of flesh.
She doesn’t say if she knows that fawns stay with their mothers until they’re up to two years old.
You can probably guess how I feel about hunting. My contempt comes from experience.
The only time I hunted was when I was in college and staying on a friend’s farm in Georgia. Armed with .22s, we went gunning for squirrels. It’s been 40 years, but I’ll never forget seeing that one squirrel drop lifelessly to the ground—torn from her family—after I fired blindly into her nest. Her nest.
That’s why I say things that can’t be printed here when I read that a day has been set aside for children in Maine to slaughter bears, that an Indiana writer thinks parents are being derelict if they don’t teach their kids to kill, and that more than 15,000 pheasants are being released into Ohio’s killing fields because hunters don’t have enough “opportunities” to satiate their bloodlust.
Not that you’ll ever hear hunters use a word like “bloodlust.”
Instead, they’ll insist that hunting is a tradition. Hundreds of years ago, our ancestors may have had to kill for food, but today, hunting is nothing more than a blood sport. Less than five percent of Americans hunt, and they aren’t doing it to survive. They’re killing because they want another head or another pair of antlers to hang on the wall.
That’s not a tradition I’d ever share with my grandkids. There’s already too much suffering and death in the world.
Forget all their porous excuses. Hunters want to bag the biggest buck—or in some cases, even a fawn—so that they can gloat about their kill. They try to hide behind words like “harvest” and “cull”—anything to avoid acknowledging they’re terrorizing animals and destroying families.
And they’re abetted by fish and game agencies, which design “wildlife management” programs to ensure that there will always be more animals to kill, not fewer. Many of those animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths after they’re blasted with a bullet or shot with an arrow. One study found that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes and that 11 percent had to be shot two or more times before they died.
Then there’s the claim that hunting is a “sport.” Really? I always thought that a sport pitted evenly matched, willing opponents on a level playing field. Hiding in a tree stand until a deer wanders into your crosshairs doesn’t even come close to fair play.
Maybe hunters have a hard time looking in the mirror. That would explain why they dodge and deny what couldn’t be clearer to anyone who cares about animals: they get a sick kick out of killing.
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