The End of Dissent: A Study in Group Radicalization

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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Murali
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    There is more to hunting than just firearms training. Did the hunting community absorb those postwar GIs without significant cultural changes. If they did, how did they manage that. If they didn’t, how did the hunting community change?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Murali
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      The hunting community before the war was probably significantly darker in hue. People in the Great Depression hunted because they were poor and needed the food. After the great migration, I feel like a lot of African Americans gave up hunting.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Murali
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      My father-in-law (born in the early 50s, I believe) has been an avid hunter since he was a child. For many years, in the 70s and 80s, hunting was what put meat on the table for a good chunk of the year.

      From his stories, I got the impression that the hunting culture saw a pretty big shift somewhere in the 70s, and he pretty much drifted out.

      All he really wants is to be in the woods and not worry about being shot by an idiot.

      These days he prefers fishing more, but then again he’s got a lot more access to a boat and a lake since he retired.Report

  2. Avatar Richard Hershberger
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    Back in the 1990s when I was a pretty serious backpacker, I thought that backpackers and hunters were natural allies. The two groups share the basic requirement of undeveloped land. The two groups effectively divvy up the calendar. At least I wouldn’t go hiking during rifle season. Bow season concerned me much less. So there is some inherent tension there, but nothing the least bit insurmountable. But some combination of politics and culture got in the way. There definitely was some very silly sniffy disdain from the backpacking side. I can’t speak to what was going on from the hunting side.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Richard Hershberger
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      “Granola-eating hippies buying $70 socks.”

      If I had to guess.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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        Well now what they do is make the socks out of hemp so they can be both eaten and worn.

        Though that is currently creating some tension among the ranks about which use is most authentic.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Jaybird
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        $70 socks.

        And worth every penny! If I am going to be walking, I want my foot gear to be good quality.

        But seriously, gear is an area where you might expect there to be a lot of overlap, but there really isn’t. At least the last time I looked in a Cabela’s catalog I didn’t see much that was relevant to me. A lot of it was pretty cool, but the imperatives are different.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Richard Hershberger
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          Oh yeah. Skimping on your socks or boots is beyond dumb.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger
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          I bike in winter, and tend to look to Mountain Equipment Co-op (the $70 be-socked granola eater headquarters of Western Canada) for gear to support that. Recently I bought a pair of mitts there, the best I could find that weren’t stratospherically priced. After getting them home and looking more closely at them, I ended up being pretty dissatisfied with them – particularly compared to the one mitt I have left from my old pair. Too-thin material, not enough forearm coverage, not enough insulation…

          So I swung by Mark’s Work Warehouse – much more Cabela’s-y I think. I got a pair of great big gauntlet mitts with lots of insulation and sturdily constructed shells, for a much cheaper price.

          They also have a feature none of the granola-gear ones have: snot-wiping pads on the backs of the hands! Truly, the list of features on the packing thing calls them “nose wipes”. Though for some reason the snot pads aren’t removable from the shells, and the shells are partly made of leather, so not all that launderable…Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to dragonfrog
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            My guess is that the issue is the weight. The backpacking crowd puts a stronger imperative on weight than does the hunting crowd, for the simple reason that the backpacking crowd thinks in terms of hauling everything on your back for however many days you are going to be out. My understanding of hunting is that it is more along the lines of day hiking, but with a gun and the gear to field dress a carcass and haul it back to the truck. With modern materials you often can get impressive results without a lot of weight, but that runs you into those stratospherically priced gloves.

            Back in the 1990s when I lived in Flagstaff I did winter hikes, but mostly day hikes. I preferred old school clothing for that sort of trip. It was heavy, but warm and indestructible. The modern clothing was light and warm, but decidedly destructible. You pick your trade-offs depending on what you are doing.Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    Well written essay.
    I think the points about groups defending themselves against attacks by radicalizing are very well made.
    I’ve noticed too, how culture sometimes captures activities, and they become totemic, where hunting “belongs” to conservatives and maybe art “belongs” to liberals.

    A lot of politics is undergirded by generational and cultural struggles of ascendancy and power. We look back at the battles over Prohibition, for example, and it seems quaint and odd, but there were serious divides between the Wets and Drys that ran a lot deeper than attitudes towards alcohol.Report

  4. Avatar Francis
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    Just to be pedantic, NEPA did not create the EPA. NEPA imposed on federal agencies the obligation to analyze the environmental impacts of their actions and approvals; the EPA was created by a Re-organization Plan issued by Nixon.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe
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    Good piece. I wonder also how much suburbanization came into play, as during the 50s and 60s much more undeveloped land became managed parkland and not just someplace near where you lived that was ‘wild’. (and suburbanites were pretty much anti-gun on balance, even the Republican ones)Report

  6. Avatar PD Shaw
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    I would trace the split back at least a hundred years to the split btw/ conservationists and preservationists. The conservationist saw American resources as needing to be managed scientifically or they would be destroyed. Their views were utilitarian and optimistic about managing environmental systems as one would manage a business — and based on the moral of waste not want not.

    The preservationist were romantics who could trace their views back to Thoreau, and did not favor “use” of resources and were pessimistic about the man’s intentions and capabilities. The highest achievement of the preservationist was the Wilderness Act of 1964, which precluded most uses of the resources other than fishing and hunting, and almost certainly this was two to many uses for some.

    In 1909, a dam was proposed in the Yosemite National Park, which conservationist supported as providing better management of water resources for the people of San Francisco and creating a lake that would provide benefits to fish and wildlife, and aesthetic scenery. Muir opposed the dam because his highest aesthetic value was the Hetch Hetchy Valley in its natural state which should be preserved.

    Frankly, I don’t see the preservationist going away. If they read works by conservationists like Aldo Leopold (who I believe was somewhat of a lapsed hunter), they might appreciate hunters more, as people who “went to the woods . . ., to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and . . learn what it had to teach.” But there appear to be more hunters these days, with an hour to spare, who go to the woods to kill something.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to PD Shaw
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      I think you and Mike are both correct to a degree.

      Preservationists v. conservationists had a very low-orbit-around-each-other coalition, but as time as passed the preservationists have pulled harder away from the coalition, less willing to compromise.

      I think the massive decline in the farming population and the rise of industrial food production have played a bigger part in this anything else, though. Most folks today have no concept of living *in/off* the land, having never planted and raised something to eat. Nature is a wholly separate thing from their daily existence.

      I think the recent uptick in the citizen scientist movement, and the urban ecology movement, has started to roll some of that back, as has the local food movement. Folks are now interested in where their food comes from, and that inexorably tinges you with the preservationist mindset.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to PD Shaw
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      This!

      Growing up in rural WI, it was easy to see how badly game animals suffered with too few natural predators to cull the populations during the winters, or how badly those animals decimated crops during summers when populations expanded even a little.

      Preservationists are idealistic idiots who are demonstrably disconnected from the nature they claim to love.Report

      • Avatar Jonny Scrum-half in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        That’s quite a broad brush you have there, Mr. Gordon.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jonny Scrum-half
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          Let me narrow it down for you. There are idealist preservationists who would like to see wild areas honestly returned to the wild, where natural predators & prey co-exist and humans are at most quiet observers. That is a goal I can appreciate, even if it is something that would require a great deal of effort with regard to making sure there is an adequate buffer between agriculture and the wild (see Yellowstone & the return of the wolves). Many preservationists understand there is a long road from here to there for a large swath of the US, especially east of the Rockies.

          Then there are preservationists who don’t seem to care about the work that needs doing, and just don’t like the idea of bambi getting shot (but seem fine with bambi starving to death, or passing on chronic wasting disease, etc.). That brand of preservationist are mere dilettantes, tossing sand in the gears.Report

          • Avatar Jonny Scrum-half in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            Fair enough. I’ll agree that some people don’t think very hard about things, and react emotionally without any consideration to what they’re really advocating. I’m pleased that you walked-back your labeling of preservationists. Thanks.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jonny Scrum-half
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              He hasn’t actually walked back anything, sir. Merely expanded upon it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
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                More like focused it. Preservationists who are serious understand the role hunters play in keeping the ecosystem healthy, even if they’d rather not have humans out there hunting.

                Preservationists who are unserious are like online activists, happy to make lots of noise, but not really interested in the realities and the hard work needed to achieve the goal. They’re seagulls.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Hunters have a role if there aren’t enough non-human predators. As i mentioned down thread we have had hunters here want to cull predators to make hunting easier for them. I’m not sympathetic to that at all. But in many places there will never be enough predators any more so hunting is needed. But i also have no problem with animals starving or dying of illness. That is nature and some other beastie is going to get a meal out of them.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak
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                All true. I’m also not a fan of culling predators for hunters benefit. Predators serve a very important ecological role us humans just can’t fill properly.

                There is a difference between a certain percentage dying from natural causes, and large percentages dying that way.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            There is in Philadelphia a park along a creek in a wooded valley. It is an urban park, but quite non-urban in feel. It also has the predictable deer over-population problem. About fifteen years ago, when I was living there, the authorities tried the entirely sensible solution of sending in sharpshooters. Word got out and there was the equally predictable shock and horror. The thing is, I would not characterize the shock and horror crowd as “preservationists.” I’m not sure they would either, in any but the most casual way. Ask them if they think we should preserve nature and they will say yes, but this is incidental to them. The people who are serious about preservation–who actually do something about it–generally understand the issue. They might disagree about the best solution, but they know that one is necessary. I would characterize the shock and horror crowd as sentimentalists.

            Me? I say we should release a pack of wolves in there.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richard Hershberger
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              Sentimentalists is a good term.

              The problem with high order predators in a park like that is they don’t differentiate between deer, rabbits, and humans who run from wolves.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Do coyotes prey on deer? If so, the problem may solve itself.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richard Hershberger
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                They can, but they gotta be hungry, or the deer has to be sick or injured or very young. A large pack might be able to bring down a healthy doe or buck, but it’d be a hell of a thing.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger
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                Adding to what @oscar-gordon said: in particular, they’d have to have sufficiently depleted the housecat population of the area to want to take on as big and dangerous an animal as a deer.

                It’s not an approach you want to try in an urban area.

                Mind you, there’s not much you can do about them if the park is connected to greenspace all the way out of town. We live several blocks from the river valley, across two major roads, and still occasionally see coyotes trotting down the street. They’ll come without being ‘introduced’ and leave for other areas you didn’t necessarily want them in if there’s not enough to eat where they are.Report

              • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to dragonfrog
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                Even in Big City, there are occasionally reports of coyote sightings, although I’ve never seen one.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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                I have. We have a few around me. They are tiny little buggers — look a lot like foxes, really. Quiet, often hard to spot. Got a picture though…Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger
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                Eastern coyotes can, sure. But deer are mighty big prey for a pair.
                The problem with deer is that they don’t ever reach an equilibrium, they just breed and breed and then starve to death.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Richard Hershberger
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              Speaking of, my father-in-law bought me a rather nice crossbow with the pointed suggestion that the feral hog problem on his land needs fixing.

              Sad part is — I love ham, but those things are close to inedible. So it’s mostly just rodent control.

              Oh well, the crossbow is fun to shoot. I’m particularly found of the hand guard with the little warning sign that translates out to “If you have a finger above this guard, it will get sliced off when you fire. Please don’t do that”.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Morat20
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                Don’t you need a boar spear and body armour or something for that?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Murali
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                Not from range.

                I mean yeah, if I was gonna hunt them with a spear, I’d want something more than cotton between my skin and them.

                But from 100 feet away in a blind?

                Besides, the feral hogs in that part of Texas are a nuisance but rarely that big. They just tear things up.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20
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                I need to find a place to shoot my bow. I got gun ranges all over, but bow ranges are few & far between.

                I haven’t shot my bow in years… 🙁Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Well, the nice part of having a father-in-law with fifty acres of land is that by “range” you mean “the area of his land for shooting”. 🙂

                He’s actually got a range somewhere near me he used to use to sight in his bow and rifles, but these days he’s up at the lake (where the land is) more than he’s down here.

                You can tell he’s a big gun safety guy. Even on fifty heavily wooded acres, the range area is backstopped. (Admittedly, that’s at least 50% so you don’t have to go play “find the arrow”)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20
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                Nothing worse than watching your $10 arrow disappear into the undergrowth…

                Damn things need to come with RFID tags and a scanner.

                I suppose I could just get some target bales and head into the wilderness a bit. Rangers are pretty lax about shooting out there, as long as you are being safe about it, and clean up after yourself.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Geez, I’ve got a half-dozen within a 30-minute drive. Fifteen or so within an hour. I smell an opportunity for a retirement “hobby”.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain
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                Actually, there are a lot of private archery ranges nearby, but very few that allow non-members to shoot.

                A growing trend among ranges, I’m afraid.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Morat20
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                I don’t think I’d terribly mind that problem. I really like pork, and I like game meat, and I like the various slow-cooking recipes that turn tough stringy meat fall-apart tender – stewing and barbecue and whatnot.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to dragonfrog
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                Actually the sows are supposed to be good eating. And that can help keep the population down (breeding stock and what not.) Once boars start to tusk, not so much on the good eating. At least this is what my FIL passed on to me.Report

  7. Avatar Mo
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    Murali:
    There is more to hunting than just firearms training. Did the hunting community absorb those postwar GIs without significant cultural changes. If they did, how did they manage that. If they didn’t, how did the hunting community change?

    I suspect there was not much change due to the influx of GIs because the GIs were from such a broad swath of the population that they did not have single unifying culture and the existing hunting culture was able to remain dominant.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Mo
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      Mo,
      I’d bet my bottom dollar that if you graphed how many people hunted squirrel and pigeon and racoon before and after the war, you’d see a dramatic falloff. And far more people hunting deer (mostly because deer were wiped out a lotta places during the Great Depression).Report

  8. Avatar greginak
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    This is good stuff Mike. There is certainly some cultural divide among enviro’s and hunters although i do know some very avid outdoorspeople/enviro’s who are hunters. I think that may be becoming more acceptable and common. To drill down i think there is somewhat of sub cultural divide; moose hunters tend to use more 4 wheelers and have big camps. Mountain sheep hunters tend more towards also being avid backpackers or climbers and their hunts are up in the peaks. The moose hunters are more often in flatter easier ground.

    Part of the divide is that while hunters do want conservation they still want their game numbers enhanced. So we have had long conflicts here about wolf hunting. Hunters want wolves culled to increase moose and caribou numbers. There is no ecological argument for this, its just that hunters want more game. To be political they want government regulation of nature to help them out. But wolves are sympathetic and have an appeal to many people so that has made wolf kills deeply troubling. I have a couple of very republican cousins who hate wolf kills, their mom cared for wolves at a little zoo and wolves are magical to them.

    There has certainly been an element of the enviro movement that sees nature as some pristine place that must be free of human touch. Some of those people are more city/suburban types who dont’ live near wilderness.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to greginak
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      My beef with Hunters is about loss of life — both of the human and tree variety.
      Put simply, around here, the overabundance of deer is killing entire forests.
      And with that many deer, you get tons of car accidents.

      Nobody has their ecosystem as screwed up by hunters as PA does.

      Wolves hunt different than people hunt — they hunt the weak, and let the strong survive. Fundamentally cowardly beasts. It’s better for the game if they’re hunted by wolves. But they aren’t magic things — nature is about one animal eating another alive, more often than not. (and wolves don’t spring for the kill the way big cats do).Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kim
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        I can’t speak to PA, but in my state, frankly, it was the suburban housing design with its “green spaces” that allowed deer to travel easily into the suburbs and 1) eat folks’ flowers and 2) stand in the road and get hit.

        Of course, there was also the suburban encroachment of the deer environment too, sooo. And you have folks squeamish about culling the overloaded deer herds at the same time bitching about their flowers being eaten and hitting deer on the roads all the time. No making some folks happy.Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy
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    Interesting piece, Mike.

    I didn’t see you mention the NRA and maybe that was intentional. I’m curious how much of a factor they might have played in this process. For starters, the fact that they are called the National Rifle Association — as opposed to the National Firearm Association or National Handgun Association — seems to make a more immediate connection to hunting. And a common refrain from the NRA and its supporters is about hunters.

    Are hunters who otherwise don’t/wouldn’t own guns see themselves as one with the NRA? If so, was that always the case? Or did they seek refuge in a large, powerful group when they felt under siege?

    As a gun-friendly-ish liberal, I have zero problem with hunting when it is practiced responsibility. And I don’t have strong objections to personal firearms for defense purposes. But I do strongly object to the NRA for a host of reasons. Which has the potential to create weird tensions. If I criticize the NRA, will hunters feel attacked and further circle the wagons? If hunters support the NRA, will I look at them differently than other hunters?

    You have the organic shifting of culture which you explore thoroughly here. But I don’t think we can ignore the role of larger, more intentional cultural institutions like the NRA (and others).Report

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Kazzy
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      The NRA used to be a hunting advocacy group and evolved into what it is today.

      Heck, you could write this same article about the NRA. The NRA has become a purely partisan organization (not rebuking Trump for agreeing with “no fly, no buy” made the subtext, text). The problem is, it makes them less powerful overall. Combine the full throated Trumpness and the milquetoast response to Philando Castille and we may see the beginning of their decline.Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Mo
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        The NRA was originally founded to encourage civilian marksmanship after the poor showing in the civil war. The natural progression was hunters and recreational shooters.Report

  10. Avatar LeeEsq
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    In the past few years, there seems have been a drive towards orthodoxy in many communities. If you see yourself as X than you must believe in everything in the entire doctrine of the particular community. Any heterodox opinion will be met with a slap down. I think that this inclination towards orthodoxy and tribalism is increasing everywhere. It can’t be a good thing.Report

  11. Avatar Jonny Scrum-half
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    I can’t find any support for the assertion that the EPA was used to attack hunting. Can anyone help with that?Report

  12. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    Oscar Gordon:
    All true.I’m also not a fan of culling predators for hunters benefit.Predators serve a very important ecological role us humans just can’t fill properly.

    There is a difference between a certain percentage dying from natural causes, and large percentages dying that way.

    Unfortunately, I recently had a friendship of nearly 30 years end due to a disagreement over the necessity of killing coyotes. That’s a whole other post, but it’s a terrible practice and ranks right up there with the War on Drugs for failed federal programs.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      It would depend a lot on why the killing was necessary. Coyotes, much more than wolves, are willing to encroach into human communities, so it can be necessary to clear them out (I get to listen to coyotes howling in my neighborhood from time to time because they hang out in the nearby greenbelt, which is well removed from the nearby wilderness).

      Wolves can, and do, prey upon grazing livestock, and thus it is occasionally necessary to cull or wipeout a pack (WA is dealing with such a problem right now).

      Killing predators just because hunters don’t want to compete with them, on the other hand, is very hard to justify.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        The problem with killing coyotes is that lower population pressure encourages them to breed like cats, and higher population pressure causes them to spread.

        Coyotes were pretty much only in the American Southwest until ranchers wheedled the BLM into beginning a program of extermination; 60 years on there are as many coyotes in New Hampshire as there were in the Southwest when the program started.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to DensityDuck
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          The range of the coyote has greatly expanded with the eradication of wolves. There ranges usually don’t overlap that much if at all. Coyotes can survive in places where wolves can’t like near people so we have coyotes all over the darn place now.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to greginak
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            greg,
            More correctly, where the wolves and coyotes have overlapped, they’ve interbred. Red Wolves are grey wolf/coyote crosses.
            This raises the question of whether wolves and coyotes are actually two different species, or whether the crosses are fertile enough of the time that we’re really just seeing the same species…Report

  13. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    DensityDuck:
    The problem with killing coyotes is that lower population pressure encourages them to breed like cats…

    Is that accurate? My understanding of fission-fusion biology was that they bred more when their numbers are thin, to return to an ‘optimal’ level for the area. Dan Flores refers to the nightly howling as the females ‘taking a census’ which then triggers larger litter sizes.

    I agree with your other points though. Hunting pressure causes them to spread.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      “My understanding of fission-fusion biology was that they bred more when their numbers are thin, to return to an ‘optimal’ level for the area.”

      That was what I said, I thought. Or at least it’s what I was trying to say.Report

  14. Avatar Stillwater
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    Good essay Mike.

    What I can’t help but think about in all of this is the way that groups are radicalized when they are attacked.

    I think a lot of this goes back to the coupling of the Animal Rights Movement and environmentalism generally, myself. It’s not surprising to me that a hunter – for sport or necessity – would view the cultural shift arising from those two movements – one based on the inherent moral properties of animals, the other on preserving rather than conserving our natural spaces – as an assault on lifestyle choices requiring a radical response.

    More generally, tho, I think you’re right: we live in a time defined by never-ending attack/respond sequence: attack; respond; attack again!; ahh, OK, counterattack!; attack with a pincer action!; counter with Bonnetti’s defense!; etcetcetc.Report

  15. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    What is a professional hunter? I’ve heard that it’s illegal to sell wild game meat, so that takes the most obvious way of making money off the table. Are they hunting instructors?Report

  16. Avatar Kim
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    They’re generally sharpshooters (which, um, means they’re less likely to shoot houses, cars or the family dog) who get paid to come into a suburb and kill as many deer as possible.
    [Deer, when killed, are often donated to the local food bank. Because it’s legal to donate the food].Report

  17. Avatar CJColucci
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    I don’t hunt myself, but I have no problem with people who do, assuming, of course, that they are responsible about it.The natural end of an animal in the wild is likely to be pretty grim, and being shot cleanly is among the better alternatives. What I’d like to know is how much of the decline of hunting is simply declining interest.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to CJColucci
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      I wonder about declining interest, too. Speaking only anecdotally, I’ve never been interested in hunting even though my father and older brothers did it. I was quietly grateful that I was never asked/made to go on a hunting trip.

      And like you, I don’t really have a problem with hunting. The only possible personal objection I might have is finding fun/sport in killing. But that’s pretty low on my list, and hunting for sport is more complicated than simply killing for fun. (And as long as I continue, without a second thought, to eat meat that is factory farmed, I don’t have much standing to object to others’ treatment of animals.)Report

  18. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    I don’t hunt myself, but I have no problem with people who do

    OK, tomorrow morning at 8 sharp. I’ll give you a ten minute head start.Report

  19. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I really liked this post, Mike. (I like the discussion, too, which didn’t go down the rabbit hole that I thought it might.)

    Does Williams cover the role that editors and advertisers of those magazines may have played in how they crafted their messages? I ask because in my own research (which has nothing to do with hunting), I read journals paid for and managed by associations purporting to speak for a given industry and I grew increasingly suspicious that I was really studying the history of those associations–and the paid secretary-managers who worked full-time–and not necessarily the industry itself. I didn’t address that point in my dissertation (its focus was elsewhere), but it’s point that’s bothered me since, and if I ever revisit the issue, I might investigated it further.

    Going a different direction, the point Williams made about the decreasing tolerance for dissent strikes home. I’m technically a member of a public employees union (or was until several months ago when I resigned my membership) and I’d get newsletters in the mail from the union. Those newsletters represented the union’s official view on numerous matters, and I’ve often thought how great it would have been if they published at least one or two “counterpoint” articles disagreeing with some stance the union was taking.Report

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