I’m about to do something new.
It’ll probably upset some of you.
Some of you will see the logic and understand, and probably find yourself in a position much like the one I’m kind of in right now.
I eat meat and I wear leather. I eat eggs too. The fact is there are many things that I encounter either knowingly or unknowingly that require an animal to be killed, or kept constrained, to enable me and you to do and have certain things.
I love animals. I’ve always had pets. Fish, cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, chickens, a snake and even a rescue crow.
I couldn’t bring myself to shoot one though. Even taking the decision to have one put down at the vets is unbearably tough, but I put the animal first and do what is best for it. Having a severely ill pet that is being kept alive on medication isn’t the nicest thing for an animal; It’s no way to live.
I’ve seen people at the vets with one legged cats whose backsides are prolapsed, cataract in both eyes, dribbling blood, breathing painfully and drugged up to the hilt to stay alive because the owner ‘really loves them‘. Bullshit; if you love them, then you really need to know when to let them go.
I’ve paid to have terminally ill chickens put down before; I could’ve physically done it myself, but it was a pet and I couldn’t mentally bring myself to do it. Did we eat it afterwards? Hell no! She was a pet. Even our hens that died naturally were never eaten. They had names!
It was keeping the chickens that made me question what we as a species do to other animals that we harvest for their various meats, skins, eggs, milk, shitty coffee etc. They were all rescue hens; ex-factory farm egg layers, beyond their useful lives and heading to a shredder whilst alive. We rescued many over time, and the eggs they gave us in their retirement were the best ever! Better than any top quality, top price ‘free range’ store purchased eggs. The eggs were vibrant in colour and so full of flavour. If you’ve not raised chickens and had real free range eggs, then you wouldn’t appreciate what they are like. Our girls had full freedom in the garden. They had great food, shelter, water, healthcare and love.
Even shop brought free range eggs are a con. To be ‘free range‘ each hen must have a minimum amount of room to itself.
Factory hens are so cruelly and closely packed together that they are wedged together and upon release (to be shredded)after a ‘useful life’ of about 18 months, some can hardly walk. Some even break their legs trying because they were so tightly packed their legs never developed. Sickening.
But free range hens are okay, yeah? Well, a few are, but others egg producers bend the rules so that they can say that their hens are free range. They wedge most of their birds together in cages, but let a handful run around outside. Because a few run around outside, on average each bird at the factory farm has a lot more space – enough to legally say they are free range hens. Yeah, free range can be just as bad as non-free range, but at least you pay more and think you’re doing the right thing.
It’s the same with sheep, cows, pigs etc. There are some very good farms out there that really look after their livestock, and despatch them humanely, but a greater number of animal produce suppliers just do enough to be able to operate legally.
I’m against hunting for fun. Killing something just because it is rare, or its a challenge, or just because you can, is not something I appreciate in the slightest. I’ll eat, wear, use animal products, but I detest those that hunt for fun.
Some people go to far with animal rights though. Some people don’t fully appreciate animal husbandry and the good it does for the animal population.
Foxes. Yes, they can do all sorts of damage, and sometimes need humane culling. Ripping them apart with dogs after baiting and chasing them on horseback is not humane.
Badgers, rabbits, rats, pigeons, crows, deer etc. They can cause all sorts of problems to livestock and agriculture. By letting their numbers get out of hand you can end up with a lot of sick animals with insufficient food sources for them to live, and the larger numbers cause detriment to the environment and other animals. By careful land and animal management the balance can be kept. Only an idiot cannot see this.
In certain countries animals are hunted and the meat & byproducts are put to use. The animals hunted are generally carefully selected from older animals that are no longer breeding, and injured, weaker animals. The stronger, breeding animals keep a herd healthy, and good genetic material is passed on, and the herd can grow.
Additionally other animals benefit from mans help. For a simplistic example; If deer numbers build up, they’ll eat too much vegetation and will be left hungry. Other animals, such as rabbits that depend on the vegetation will also become hungry and Ill, and often leave an area in search of food, never to return. The deer and rabbits that don’t leave get weak, ill and die or spread illness. Weak deer and rabbits make easy prey for wolves. Easy prey means the wolf populations increase due to an abundance of food.
If too many wolves are allowed to build up, then they’ll eat all the remaining rabbits and deer. You’re left with starving, ill wolves and no deer or rabbits and a decimated environment.
By carefully controlling the number of deer, rabbits and wolves you can actually increase each population and keep it healthy. Yes, hunting can enlarge the population and have them stronger and healthier.
Google the Yellowstone Wolves and you’ll see what an impact animal management can have. A couple of wolves reintroduced new animals and vegetation to the park, and even changed the flow of a river. Whole new species of fish, birds and forest animals came back. Plants that had died out in the area cane back – even down to lichen, insects, bacteria… All from careful animal management.
To recap: I love animals, I hate people hunting them for no good reason, and do not see it as a sport. If a cull is needed, then do it efficiently and humanely, and above a lot of this, don’t be that arsehole who is against any type of hunting if you haven’t bothered to research and understand the good that animal management can do when done correctly.
Back to my something new.
I do like my meat, milk, leather shoes, eggs etc, but I’m not thrilled at how the animals are treated.
So I’m taking up hunting on controlled land.
Hear me out.
I’m a good shot. A very good shot. Over 12 years of top division competition target shooting. I know I can take an animal out cleanly. One minute it’ll be minding it’s happy own business in the huge open fields and woodland , and that’ll be the last thing it’ll ever know. HOW CRUEL!!!!
My shooting a rabbit does two main things though: It keeps the number of rabbits down and reduces the burrows in the farmer’s cow field, which in turn means less cows being shot due to serious injuries from getting caught out by deep holes. It also means food for me and my family, as the rabbit will not be wasted.
I’m sorry, but Mrs Feathers the factory chicken had 18 months of hell before being thrown in shredder just so you could have some poor quality egg in your shop brought salad. At least the bunny I shoot will have had a life of freedom, sunshine, good food and free of suffering. Who’s worse? The people buying factory meat from a store, or me?
When we move I plan to hunt larger game in an area that uses hunting to increase the entire animal population by proper husbandry. I plan to only shoot what is sustainable, better for the future population of that animal species and other affected species, and only what I need and can use. I wish to avoid buying factory farmed meat and produce where possible.
The difficulty for me is the killing. Yes, I know my shot will be true and clean, and I know it is better than buying from a store, but I’m face to face with my fluffy dinner; I’m not distanced from it like the anti-hunt people who buy their tortured slabs of meat in polystyrene trays, covered with clingfilm.
I’ll pull the trigger. I’ll take responsibility for that life. I’ll prepare and eat the meat and I’ll appreciate it all the more for knowing that I’ve not added to the supermarket demand for factory farmed animals.
So if you ask ‘how can you shoot a poor fluffy bunny?!?‘, I’ll ask ‘how can you buy inhumane factory farmed animal produce?‘
You buy from this, with unsold animals being thrown in to landfill – some still alive:
But disagree with this – Free roaming rabbit – only shooting what you need:
It is a catch 22 for me. I love animals and nature, and even though I’ve done my research & seen it for my own eyes, hunting for their greater good still doesn’t make it seem right; Even though it’s clearly working in certain countries, and is a damned lot better than force fed, cramped, mistreated factory animal produce.
At the time of writing this I’ve still to shoot my first rabbit, but rest assured! I have a well skilled country friend who is taking me through the humane hunting and despatch skills required to go with my already precise rifle work. I’m not half arsing this – I owe my doing it right to the rabbit.