Soon it will be the so-called Glorious 12th here in the UK, this being August 12th which begins the shooting season, when men , usually men but increasingly women, go out onto the moorland armed to the teeth and use tiny birds as live targets, shooting them out of the sky after terrifying them into leaving the safe cover of their habitats by what is called grouse beating – a method to drive them towards the shooters using flags, sticks, and other devices. During 1st October to 1 February, this barbaric behaviour is further added to by the commencement of the pheasant shooting season.Add to this deer hunting/stalking in some way or another depending on the breed or gender of deer occurs throughout most of the year. Rabbits of course can be killed with little or no restrictions all year round. What a shocking state of affairs exists when people can legally kill members of another species simply for fun, wantonly and callously take the lives of other sentient beings who have as much right as we to live out their natural life spans.
Hunting, shooting, deer stalking are all the same thing namely the killing or massacre of other living beings, the different classifications are irrelevant to the unfortunate animals who suffer pain and death as a result of this inhumane pastime.
What makes people wish to go out into wild places and with deliberate intention shoot helpless defenceless animals? More to the point can such people change?
Below you can read what Lady Florence Dixie back in the 19th century said about hunting and other blood sports:
“What is it but deliberate massacre when thousands and tens of thousand of tame, hand-reared creatures are literally drawn into the Jaws of death and mown down in a particular brutal manner? A perfect roar of guns fills the air, louder tap and yell the beaters, above the din can be heard the heart-rendering cries of wounded hares and rabbits, some of which can be seen dragging themselves away, with both hind legs broken, or turning round and round in their agony before they die. And the pheasants ! They are on every side, some rising, some dropping, some lying dead, but the greater majority fluttering on the ground wounded, some with both legs broken and a wing, some with both wings broken and a leg, others merely winged, running to hide, others mortally wounded gasping out their last breath of life amidst the fiendish sounds which surround them. And this is called sport!… Sport in every form and kind is horrible, from the rich man’s hare-coursing to the poor man’s rabbit-coursing.
Lady Florence Dixie The Horrors of Sport
From reading the above you may be surprised to learn that Florence Dixie, a Scottish traveller, war correspondent, writer and feminist, once participated in blood sports with great enthusiasm including big game hunting. However during the 1890s her views on what is often termed field sports changed quite dramatically, in her book The Horrors of Sport she condemned blood sports as cruel.
We owe much to animals, and their rights are still shamefully neglected, while wild animals are absolutely unprotected. Many women are heedlessly, and others ignorantly cruel in this particular. … Experience has taught me the cruelty and horror of much miscalled sport. Wide travel, much contact with the animal world , and a good deal of experience in a variety of sports have all combined to make me ashamed and deeply regretful for every life my hand has taken.
From an interview with Charles W. Forward,1894
During her early life and travels Dixie enjoyed hunting, raging from fox hunting to hunting wild life in Patagonia as the following extracts describe.
Dixie was an enthusiastic fox hunting participant:
‘The merry blast of the huntsman’s horn resounds, the view-halloa rings out cheerily on the bright crisp air of a fine hunting morning; the fox is “gone away,” you have got a good start, and your friend has too. “Come on,” he shouts, “let us see this run together!” Side by side you fly the first fence, take your horse in hand, and settle down to ride over the broad grass country. How distinctly you remember that run, how easily you recall each fence you flew together, each timber-rail you topped, and that untempting bottom you both got so luckily and safely over, and above all, the old farm-yard, where the gallant fox yielded up his life.’
Across Patagonia Florence Dixie
During 1878-1879 Dixie travelled with her husband, two of her brothers and a friend in Patagonia in South America. There, she hunted big game. Below is an extract from Across Patagonia in which she describes with gusto the chase and killing of an ostrich.
Fortunately, beyond a shaking, I am unhurt, and remounting, endeavour to rejoin the now somewhat distant chase. The ostrich, Gregorio, and the dog have reached the plain, and as I gallop quickly down the hill I can see that the bird has begun doubling. This is a sure sign of fatigue, and shows that the ostrich’s strength is beginning to fail him. Nevertheless it is a matter of no small difficulty for one dog to secure his prey, even at this juncture, as he cannot turn and twist about as rapidly as the ostrich. At each double the bird shoots far ahead of his pursuer, and gains a considerable advantage. Away across the plain the two animals fly, whilst I and Gregorio press eagerly in their wake. The excitement grows every moment more intense, and I watch the close struggle going on with the keenest interest. Suddenly the stride of the bird grows slower, his doubles become more frequent, showers of feathers fly in every direction as Plata seizes him by the tail, which comes away in his mouth. In another moment the dog has him by the throat, and for a few minutes nothing can be distinguished but a gray struggling heap. Then Gregorio dashes forward and throws himself off his horse, breaks the bird’s neck, and when I arrive upon the scene the struggle is over. The run had lasted for twenty-five minutes.
So what changed:
Florence Dixie eventually became “haunted by a sad remorse” for the death of a beautiful golden deer of the Cordilleras, who was unusually tame and trusting. After this time Dixie’s views on field sports changed dramatically, and in her book The Horrors of Sport she condemned blood sports as cruel. She eventually became a vegetarian and an advocate for animals, she wrote “A Prayer for Dogs” to help people realise the necessity of the proper treatment of domestic animals and the “The Union of Mercy”to help teach children not to torment birds and adults not to wear fur.
In more recent times the next convert from hunting describes his reasons for doing so:
Changing Attitudes: Why I Quit Hunting
A Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: The Sanitizing of Violence in Our Society Article from All-Creatures.org
In November 1989, I was shot by a deer hunter, while on my own property. The irresponsible hunter left me for dead, and my twelve year old son loaded me in a truck and drove me 40 miles to a hospital. That didn’t dampen my enthusiasm, though, and is not the reason I quit, but it did give me a solid taste of what the animals endure.
I guess I just started to understand that the animal I was looking at through a scope was not just a target, but a living thing. A thing that suffered when shot, a thing that I had no right to kill, though I had the privilege to do so, by virtue of paying another person a fee for a license. Think about that. The animal is minding his own business when you go into a store, pay a fee and walk out with a license to kill the animal, what a deal.
I shot the last animal that will ever fall to my gun in November 1992. I hunted until January, 1997.
In five years, I discovered I could love the outdoors, and it’s experiences, which I still dearly enjoy, without killing. The guns stay at home when I take to the field now, though I keep the rust off them by frequent trips to the range to break clay targets or make little groups of holes in paper, and I have turned more to shooting competition for satisfaction and achievement.
Hunting/shooting – or plain and simply murder of the other living beings with whom we share our world – is a pursuit of the past, at least it should be for it has no place in the modern world. As Isaac Bashevis Singer once wrote: “There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.”
Whether it is foxes, deer, grouse, pheasants or rabbits and hares it is time to end the killing. No country can claim to be ethically progressive while it allows and even encourages it citizens to kill animals simply to satisfy some abhorrent pleasure.
Ban all hunting.
Hunters and others involved educate yourself about hunting. Consider a more humane pastime.
9 Things No One Told You About Hunting
Hunters make up many excuses to justify their pastime. However, cruel, unnecessary killing—which is what hunting is—has no justification.
More and more people are opposed to hunting.
Bristol Hunt Saboteurs are ‘snowed under’ with new members hoping to stop fox hunting
“With hunting firmly back on the agenda, a Bristol group who make it their business to disrupt fox hunts say they are ‘snowed under’ with new requests to join.
Using dogs to hunt foxes was banned under in 2004. Despite this members of the hunt sabs claim foxes are still regularly hunted with packs of dogs in the South West.”
Ways to help bring an end to hunting
Contact the League Against Cruel Sports
This next link includes suggestions about how you can help to stop hunting where you live. PETA USA but much of the information applies anywhere:
Why Sport Hunting Is Cruel and Unnecessary
Sources of some of the information