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Looking at a Hunter’s Heart of Darkness

Written by PETA | October 9, 2012

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that PETA opposes hunting. After all, it’s a no-brainer: Chasing and shooting animals (with a gun or a bow and arrow) causes terror. Mates grieve, young animals can starve when their mothers are killed, and hunting leaves wounded but unrecovered animals to die slowly and wretchedly from blood loss, infection, or predation.

PETA works to end efforts to get ever-younger kids to take up this cruel blood sport because hunting teaches them to see other individuals as objects to exploit and “things” to kill—a very dangerous lesson. Every school shooter has been found to have hunted, and although not every kid who hunts will go on to gun down human beings, people who fire weapons at other living beings destroy a piece of their own heart.

In his article for Psychology Today titled “Do Some People Simply Like to Kill Other Animals?” Dr. Marc Bekoff offers some thought-provoking perspectives on the mind-set of hunters as well as on their self-deceit. Here is an excerpt:

I see no reason to kill other animals for a meal that isn’t needed. Every time I read an essay about ‘ethical hunting’ it makes me reflect on a number of different and challenging issues. One that comes up time and time again is that maybe some people simply like to kill other animals and then offer a wide variety of excuses about their lust for blood (consider also the unrelenting war on wildlife including the wanton killing of wolves, the man who used a trapped wolf for target practice, and the egregious abuse of laboratory animals including chimpanzees). I can easily understand why some hunters offer that ‘getting out in nature’ or ‘getting in touch with nature’ or ‘having quality family time’ are important to them and that’s why they hunt. But one can get closer to nature without a gun so there’s more to it at least for some people, or so it seems.

I also don’t understand how some people can deny the suffering and death(s) for which they’re directly responsible. I find that when some people say something like ‘Oh, I know they suffer, but I love my steak’ it nauseates me. And when they say they love other animals and then kill them I like to say I’m glad they don’t love me.

Many people want to rewild their hearts – reconnect with other nature – and it’s incredibly easy to do without causing any harm. So, when will the unnecessary killing stop? I hope sooner than later because it’s just not necessary to cause harm and to kill to have a healthy meal plan. So, do some people simply enjoy killing other animals? It seems they do or else they wouldn’t do it.


iStockphoto.com/KeithSzafranski

What You Can Do

Help counter the cruelty of hunting in your area: Post “No Hunting” signs on your land and that of sympathetic neighbors and friends, join or form a local anti-hunting group, protest organized hunts, and spread deer repellent or human hair (from barber shops) near hunting areas. Also, before supporting any wildlife or conservation group, make sure that it opposes hunting.

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  • Nelson says:

    As a former hunter, my choice to go vegan was the best decision I ever made. There is no need to hunt to provide for you and/or your family, especially when they are plenty of delicious cruelty-free alternatives at your local super market.

  • Nelson says:

    As a former hunter, my choice to go vegan was the best decision I ever made. There is no need to hunt to provide for you and/or your family, especially when they are plenty of delicious cruelty-free alternatives at your local super market.

  • Rachel says:

    Hunters are cowards! Humans are the only animals that kill other animals for pleasure. It’s 2012 – there is no need to hunt!

  • Dennis Carlson says:

    This entire controversy can be solved so simply: Go vegetarian an no one has to die for your meal.

  • Elaine says:

    Hunting is killing. It’s cruel and it cannot be justified. If you have a thirst for an animal’s blood, you need help. It’s sick and immorral. If you want to hunt animals, do it with a camera. That’s the only way to hunt ethically.

  • James says:

    As a small farmer in rural Pennsylvania, I work very hard for the little I own. The damage that deer and other wildlife cause hits me directly in the pocketbook. I am not a hunter. I kill deer during the year as permitted by the laws for damaging my crops. I take a few for food for my family; however, the majority I leave for the coyotes, crows buzzards, etc. As I’m sure most of you are aware, the price of corn and soybeans has gone through the roof this year. So far this year I have killed 223 deer on my 300 acre farm for crop damage. I killed just shy of 200 last year. 99% of the deer I shoot are shot in the guts so they don’t die in my fields causing additional loss of crops/profit. This way they run off into the woods and die of septic about 12hrs later. I’m explaining this to you so that some of you may come down from your high horses. Just because you choose not to eat meat does not mean you don’t have blood on your hands. Those deer die to save my soybeans that make your tofu burgers. The more vegetarians, the higher the demand for soy, the higher the price, the higher the profit, the more deer I will kill to protect that profit. Just something to think about.

  • somsai says:

    Just as we don’t need sex to procreate (artificial insemination) so too can we obtain nutrients artificially via veganism. But not easily. Most vegetarians are malnourished and for children their brains are less developed, scientific fact. All mass murderers were once vegetarians. Vegetarians have higher statistics of spousal abuse. Vegans are angry at the world and everyone in it. In contrast hunters are at ease with themselves and the world, we make babies the old fashioned way and obtain our food similarly. We are the number one suporters of wildlife, HSUS contributes zero, nada, nothing.

  • Scott says:

    Hunting provides a vital source of healthy food. In contrast, factory farming is very nasty business. We respect the work PETA has done to eliminate inhumane factory farming practices. Let’s continue that work and not get distracted attacking hunters and wildlife management. Hunting is a vital aspect of wildlife management. Have you seen deer starving because of overpopulation? Starvation is a cruel, horrible way for animals to die. By managing wildlife properly, animals stay healthy and the species are protected.

  • Patrick McGinty says:

    Considering that a vegan diet is healthier for you, and the fact that we can all survive quite nicely without meat, you have to wonder if hunters really do just love to kill. It gives me peace of mind that I am vegan–I cause no harm to other living beings, and I will teach my children to do the same. I see no “sport” in taking another being’s life, and all of the excuses hunters give for doing so just don’t add up. Great piece by PETA and Marc Bekoff.

  • Lacey Matthews says:

    Thank you, Marc, for calling a spade a spade. I never have and never will understand the “thrill” people get out of terrorizing and killing wildlife. If it doesn’t “thrill” you to terrorize your dog, why do you think it’s so much fun to do the same to a duck or a deer? Sorry, just don’t get it.

  • LucyP says:

    We don’t need to kill for survival. With the bounty of plant-based foods that are available to us, we can eat like kings and be much healthier by leaving meat off our menus altogether. Those who want the satisfaction of “harvesting” their own food can plant gardens or join a CSA. And there are countless ways to enjoy nature and spend time with loved ones without harming other living beings (hiking, canoeing, camping, bird-watching… just to name a few). I couldn’t agree more: people who fire weapons at other living beings destroy a piece of their own heart.

  • Danny says:

    I hunt for food. I eat what I kill and I take great pride in having never lost any animal due to poor shot placement. Contrary to the thoughts of many previous posters, I am not a serial killer, I do not have a low self-esteem. I have two sons, and I am proud to teach them how to provide food for their families. Hunting is also a conservation issue. I live in an area that is surrounded by Federal land that prohibits hunting. The herd of deer gets bigger and bigger every year. I have seen as many as 100 deer in one field at one time. Every year their food source gets smaller and smaller due to human encroachment. Eventually, the only food they will have will be the grass that grows on this federal land. If we do not control the population, they will die of starvation and malnutrition. Many also die due when cars hit them. Which is less humane? Starvation, and wasted carcasses along the roadside, or feeding families with natural, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat? Deer is low-fat and healthy. It is not a hobby, it is a way of life and a way to feed my family.

  • LAR848 says:

    I am proud of my husband and son who hunt ethically and legally. They provide lean, healthy meat that the entire family eats. We know where that food has been, how it was cleaned, how old it is, and how it was prepared. We know our animals didn’t suffer unnecessarily while waiting to be killed or die of disease in a meat processing plant. We don’t have to worry about e-coli or recalls because we are partaking in the bounty of God’s natural blessing that was placed on this earth to provide nourishment for human beings. I’m against animal cruelty, but I’m NOT against ethical hunting for consumption. Oh, and by the way, harrassing hunters by putting out animal repellant or human hair, etc…it’s illegal and I assure you, I would prosecute anyone who attempted to do something like this that could disrupt our family’s harvest. And, one final point to take away with you…Please notice how this “redneck,” if you will, didn’t have to resort to cussing or name-calling to make my point. Have a good day.

  • Mike says:

    I hunt, I’m a good person, and I hunt lawfully. Keep in mind that there are hunter interference laws prohibiting you from doing what is suggested with the human hair and deer repellent. If I catch you doing that, you will be held accountable. Obey the laws and I don’t really mind what your opinion is of me being a hunter.

  • Eric says:

    Hunting is a way to learn the ways of wildife that we do love. The killing is a harvest. We should all be driven to perform this as humanely as possible. A death in seconds, is much kinder than the end that mother nature prescribes. Death by predation or sickness are a wild animal’s options. Which of these do you people perceive to be kinder? As a predator, I always try and provide the quickest kill possible. I enjoy the bounty that nature can provide. Responible hunters are responsible for a lot of habitat reclamation and healthy game numbers. Walt Disney films are a terrible place to get your wildlife education. What do you eat? Who killed it for you?

  • Kelly says:

    My family does not hunt for a joy of killing. We hunt because it is a source of food that has lived what I consider to be the best life it could: that of a wild animal. It has not lived on a feed lot to face certain death. Hunting is hard work, costly and a means of being connected to nature. We respect the animals that we kill and we are not wasteful or greedy. I have a rule that I will not eat any animal product unless I know who harvested it. There is no joy in killing, the joy is in providing and not supporting unethically raised meat.

  • Chris Meyer says:

    I can’t wait to one day be able to teach my kids everything I know about hunting wild game and processing all the meat and using all of it. There is nothing wrong with hunting when it is managed properly. The lazy do not roast any game but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt -proverbs 12:27

  • Alaani loves her Rottwielers says:

    Jesus christ…I do clay pigeon shooting with disks, is that bad? I only shot an already shot in the neck rabbit whom was struggling. (I have pet rabbits, i love bunnies so its heart braking)

  • Prerna says:

    It’s just wrong to kill…period. There’s no other way of looking at it!

  • Logan Kennedy says:

    Well I am a hunter and all I can say is that you all are crazy. It is good food and a good sport that teaches dicispline.

  • Ruth Eisenbud says:

    the heart of darkness is rooted in the christian doctrine of dominon…. There are christian ministries who teach young children to hunt a means of bonding with jesus…. It is time for a more compassionate religious model… ahimsa

  • Joan Lorenz says:

    hunting is cruel and disgusting, disgusting, disgusting, so so so disgusting.

  • Irene Leggett says:

    Hunters are nothing but gun-toting, trigger-happy morons who are brain-dead, heartless and soul-less. They have lost all compassion, all empathy and certainly all moral ethics whatsoever. How they have the audacity to say they hunt because its ‘fun, sport and entertainment’ is beyond any decent person’s comprehension. Shame on every last one of them.

  • Mike says:

    Growing up in the Southern United States hunting was seen as a rite of passage for males. I started hunting early, first with air rifles and then I graduated to a .22 and a shotgun. One morning I shot a rabbit and it was crying and came toward me like it was seeking help. I quit that day and never hunted again. I was 16 years old and am now 65 and have been against hunting for most of my life. It is a cruel and dehumanizing sport (if killing can be called a sport) and can desentize people to the sufferings of other animals and people.

  • Aline Hrast says:

    Hunters are the most disgusting people in the world! I believe I know why they enjoy killing innocent animals: it´s simply because they are serial killers themselves and since they´re afraid of the consequences of killing people, it´s far easier to kill animals! After all, animals don´t carry guns or bows and arrows,they´re always at a disadvantage! Hunters are bloodthirsty cowards!

  • clara coy says:

    estoy en contra de la casería de estos hermosos animales, gracias Dios hay personas como ustedes que se preocupan por detener esta crueldad…. gracias de todo corazón!!

  • Marsha says:

    I know PETA doesn’t endorse any political candidate but a certain Vice President nominee bought his young daughter a gun so she can go hunting with him. This is disgusting and I will not be voting for this presidential ticket. He also loves to bow hunt which is deplorable.

  • Kelly says:

    I was thinking about how horrible hunting is when I was watching that LL Bean commercial where some woman is going on and on about how she wants nature to be her kids’ playground and I thought about how she must have that twinge of guilt right before she eats the fish or whatever animal she eats and I felt grateful that being a vegan I don’t feel that anymore. And I was thinking about how its not as important to be in nature ALL the time as it is to do the right thing. I’d rather learn about native fruits/vegetables. The human hair idea is a good idea if I ever live near a hunting area I will do that.

  • Richard says:

    People hunt because it makes there ego feel good to have the power of life and death . People who hunt have low self esteam and they use hunting to feel important and tough. But inside they lack confidence and are weak . Its sad and pathetic.

  • Laura Goad says:

    Couldn’t agree more…

  • francesca says:

    No hunting animals, find another “hobby”!

  • Kristylynn Lacy says:

    I am the proud parent of 4 boys who will never be hunters. I have said this all along and I LOVE that someone with a PHD brings it to light. How can people teach their children to hunt and kill so young and expect it to not affect their mindset??? Come on!!!

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