I went hunting last weekend and I must say it was sublime.
There was a foot of snow in the woods of the Tug Hill Plateau and the partridges were out in full force, flying and waddling through the woods as they usually do. The air was cold but not so cold as to be uncomfortable, and the exhilaration of outwitting game while in pursuit through the trees was nothing short of spiritual.
And so I must speak in defense of hunting this week. It's been a recent trend for the age-old pastime of men and dogs to be denigrated in society as either "mean" or "redneck," neither of which are compelling arguments against the sport.
To first address the contention that hunting is a "mean," "inhumane" or "uncivilized" activity, the point of slaughterhouses must be raised.
Consider the slaughterhouse, the source of the bulk of American meat today: filthy, crowded and impersonal. Corn is standard fare for the animals that live there; Cows are naturally adapted to eat grass and chickens to eat insects.
Imagine being forced to eat, for the rest of your life, cornmeal. That's all you ever eat. Such is the fate of the animals at a slaughterhouse.
Diet aside, many of the species cultivated for food in America are aberrations, genetic abominations in which deformities and unfavorable mutations tend to be the norm, not the rarity. They're crowded together like packages, not living animals, and then systematically slaughtered, dressed, butchered and packaged in nice, shiny styrofoam trays. Then you buy them.
Contrast this with hunting which, from the get-go, is intensely more personal. The hunter, following conventions of society, aims to minimize the suffering of any animal he kills, if he even gets the chance to aim at them. Consider that these animals have adapted to survive in their environments; to kill them there is difficult to say the least.
Assuming the hunter does slay an animal, it is then dressed by him, butchered by him, cooked by him and eaten by him. There's hardly any waste to be found, and all the meat is used. From this standpoint, hunting is nothing if not more humane than a slaughterhouse ever could be.
So the free-ranging animal has been killed singly and used efficiently, whereas the crated animal has been killed en masse with a huge amount of waste. What more could point to the hunter's validity?
Simply put: hunting is natural. Since the dawn of mankind, we have hunted for our food. To do so engages the mind of man on a deep, spiritual level. No longer is food merely a vehicle for calories and nutrients - now the food has become a respected quarry. A competition is born between the hunter and the hunted and, often, the hunted prevails.
To engage in the hunt is to surrender briefly to instinct and fundamental human thought and, when the hunt is over, to thank Nature for what's been given. In every way imaginable, hunting is the superior way to gather one's food.
Aaron Davis is a sophomore English major who's already patenting the partridge and bacon club sandwich, so don't get any ideas, Wendy's.