This is a
neat Wall Street Journal article on the rise of various
primitive forms of hunting, like primitive archery and handmade
spearhunting, both in its own right, and for the questions it raises
about hunting ethics and technology—is “technology” more or
less sporting or ethical than “primitive” forms?
Of course, ideas of what's primitive
and what isn't are somewhat fuzzy—it's obvious that a rock or a
stone arrowhead is lower on the technology tree than a Remington
1100, but then you have hierarchies of primitivism—muzzleloaders,
for example, are more “advanced” than bows, but less advanced
than centerfire rifles. Or are they? After all, we have
state-of-the-art compound bows with synthetic ingredients, and even
muzzleloaders have undergone 20th and 21st
Anyway, I find the ending of this
article striking, because it shows that “primitive,” while maybe
more sporting to some because it decreases the asymmetry between man
and beast, isn't necessarily more palatable—the description of
shooting arrows after arrows into a giant wounded pig is, as the
hunter says, “not pretty—but it's primitive.” That leads to an
interesting paradox in terms of hunting ethics—primitive hunting
techniques bridge the gap between man and animal more thoroughly, but
just because something's all-natural doesn't mean it can't be ugly.
Conversely, as I often point out when I'm called upon to defend my
hunting lifestyle, if I were a deer, I'd much rather die the quick
death of a bullet in the lungs versus being ripped to shreds by a
predator; on the other hand, there's the possibility that something
is lost at a certain level of disconnect from nature due to hunting
gear. Obviously hunting elk from a Predator drone wouldn't seem that
sporting (it might be fun in its own way, but not sporting—and
besides, Hellfire missiles don't leave much meat), but where do we
draw the line?
I don't think we can (usually); I think
the ethicality of any hunting method can be assessed without looking
at the most important piece of hunting equipment of all—the brain.
In the right hands, a handmade spear and a cutting-edge hunting rifle
can both be tools for sportsmanly hunting.