Oct 152006
Authors: Andy Nicewicz

Some people out here are shocked when I tell them back home I shot and killed prairie dogs, for entertainment no less.

“But they’re so cute!” they protest. When I tell people I hunt elk, they say, “But they’re so majestic! How could you do something like that?”

Needless to say, these comments make me feel like a horrible person. But then I remember how different people’s attitudes about hunting were back home.

So to understand why I would “murder innocent creatures who pose no threat to me,” you first have to understand where I was raised. I’m from Hotchkiss, a tiny town in the western part of Colorado.

The nearest movie theater is 15 minutes away, the nearest bowling alley is 30 minutes away and the nearest shopping mall is more than an hour away. The nearest prairie dog colony, on the other hand, is five minutes away.

So yeah, boredom definitely has something to do with it.

I suppose that’s a pretty poor excuse, but Hotchkiss is also in a very conservative area. NRA bumper stickers are commonly observed on cars, as are gun racks. A significant portion of the population owns guns and hunts.

In fact, fall break for the schools is “coincidentally” during the same week as first rifle season. I even knew several girls who would go hunting.

In contrast, most people up here have never shot a real gun, nevermind killed anything with one. So what the heck is wrong with everybody?

My conclusion: You are all a bunch of hippie cry-babies. Go back to Boulder!

OK, I’m sorry. I don’t really mean that, and it would be pretty hypocritical of me given my fairly liberal stance on a lot of issues as of late.

At any rate, there has to be a reason for the anti-hunting sentiment I have observed, and quite frankly, I blame Hollywood.

“Bambi” and movies like it have brainwashed several generations of children. Hollywood would have you believe that nature is made up of never-ending sunshine, beautiful flowers, singing birds, oh-so adorable bunnies and friendly bears, and that this perfect world is thrown into misery and gloom by the murderous tendencies of man.

Reality, of course, is something far different. It rains, snows and sleets; grass and flowers die in the winter; the bunnies (and prairie dogs) are infested with plague-carrying fleas; and bears aren’t really that friendly. In fact, the “natural” way a deer or elk is likely to die is to starve or freeze to the point where it to weak to move, and then be torn apart piece by piece by coyotes.

Not quite what you pictured from “Bambi” now was it? Death by man, a single shot to the vital organs usually causing instant death, by comparison seems pretty, well, humane.

The fact of the matter is, without hunters, starvation among deer and elk populations would skyrocket. These animals lack any natural predators (yeah, OK, that is sort of the fault of hunters) and without the check on their population that hunters provide, there isn’t enough winter feed to keep them from starving.

At any rate, man is a hunter by nature. Ever since the invention of the sharpened stick we have hunted. The methods have changed somewhat since then (namely using rifles that can kill at up to several hundred yards) but hunting still provides a connection with those primordial roots back when we lived in tune with nature.

And I’d prefer that to picking up a steak at the supermarket any day. Besides, aren’t cows majestic, too?

Don’t answer that.

Andy Nicewicz is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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