My writer friend Bob Robb–international hunter, raconteur, member of the 300-Stitch Club–informs me that there is now a Fantasy Hunting League, wherein hunting “experts” wander the landscape and kill big game in teams, as I understand it. There is a website for the League, and people are invited to pick a Team and follow it. If they pick the team that gets what it’s after, they win prizes, including $60,000 in cash. Bob, upon learning of this, said that his gut reaction was “…something akin to the way it feels after eating rotten possum.”
Most hunters participate vicariously to some extent. Not everyone can go to Alaska or Africa, so they read about it and watch it on the screen. That’s fine. I did it, as did my generation of hunters. But we didn’t take the magazine articles and movies as a substitute for the real thing, and I’m afraid that’s what’s happening here. We now have hunting by proxy. Watch some yahoo kill an elk and win a prize. God forbid you should endure the discomfort of doing it yourself. Hunting–in particular big-game hunting–seems to be one of the last sports that requires its participants to develop some real skills, and put forth real effort, and spend a fair amount of their own money, and sweat and freeze and come up empty-handed and still go out and do it the next year.
I dislike a great deal of the electronic stuff that you can drag into the woods. It’s a substitute for developing skill. Knowing how to strap a camera to a tree to see what came by is not the same as being able to read tracks to see what came by. A real hunter, a real outdoorsman, can do just fine with no electronics whatsoever.