Photo of dead lion and deer mounted on a wood panel living room wall.
 
Cartoon graphic of hunter's head mounted on the wall.

Heads I Win . . . a trophy worth killing for


Guest Commentary by Robert Basler

Robert Basler takes a comedic but honest look at trophy hunting and how disgusting and twisted this activity really is. Though trophy hunters claim it's a sport and they allow fair chase, this is false and simply an excuse to slaughter wildlife. The death of Cecil the African lion has made headlines, but these cruel hunts are allowed right here on United States soil to kill our American lion: the cougar.

A few weeks ago, human beings around the world were sickened by the senseless slaughter of Cecil, the magnificent lion in Zimbabwe. Folks everywhere screamed for justice.

We very quickly learned that Cecil's killer was an American dentist. As if dentistry doesn't already allow him to inflict enough pain and suffering.

But what readers may not know is, you don't have to go all the way to Africa to find trophy hunting. It turns out it's a very big business in our own state.

Cartoon of pride of lions titled Pride, and group of trophy hunters titled Shame.

A few months ago, I attended a House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee hearing at the Legislature, to discuss policy on wolves.

In a moment of supreme irony, one of the speakers said wolves are bad, because—I swear I'm not making this up—they tend to kill the big animals that trophy hunters pay to kill, thus harming a lucrative local business.

You get what he's saying there, right? Wolves shouldn't be killing those poor creatures. Wealthy dimwits who pay for the privilege should get to kill them!

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: If you're going after animals because you need to put food on your family's table, you're a hunter. If you're going after them to put their heads on your wall, you're just a complete dickweed.

When Cecil died, I remembered that wildlife committee hearing and I started doing some research. I learned there are numerous outfitters, guides and trophy hunting sites in New Mexico that are eager to help you bag the hapless victim of your dreams.

One website talks about the fun of hunting a mountain lion. Their exact words: "What thrill of tracking down a big Tom, releasing the hounds, a race, and finally coming face to face with the biggest cat in North America."

Um, yeah. Coming face to face and then killing it.

Another New Mexico hunting company promises a "100-percent effort is put forth to make your cougar hunt a success and an enjoyable lifetime memory."

Presumably they mean an enjoyable lifetime memory for you, not for the cougar.

Cartoon showing animal trophy room. Text: this room celebrates my egocentric disregard for other species.

These big game hunting websites are awash with curious euphemisms. They often use "trophy" instead of "poor dead animal," and "harvest" instead of "sickening butchery."

"Honey, it's 5 am. Where's my beer and my gun? Me and the boys is goin' out to do us some harvesting!"

Several firms cater to people who want to hunt elk with muzzle-loaders. One website boasts, "We are up on the latest technology and equipment for muzzle-loader hunting."

Oh, good. You're using the same weapons they had at the Alamo, but at least you're "up on the latest technology."

One website stressed that they offer "fair" trophy hunts. Fair? Does that mean the mountain lions have human bodyguards armed with all the lethal firepower the hunters have? If not, they aren't fair.

Remember, all of these businesses are operating in our own Land of Enchantment.

The ads are nothing if not specific, offering methods of carnage for every taste: "Archery mule deer hunts." "Muzzle-loading big elk hunts..."

Want to annihilate a jackalope with a blowtorch? You're in luck!

Like to harvest unicorns with a ball peen hammer? We can put you there!

Wipe out a stegosaurus with a Studebaker? Just give us your credit card!

Care to take down a Presbyterian with sarcasm? You've come to the right place, pal!

There is just something fundamentally wrong with people who see a beautiful living creature and feel like killing it to hang on the wall of their tacky family room. And yet, I didn't find any websites offering psychiatric care for trophy hunters. It sort of makes you think, doesn't it?

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