It is now spring and time to go fishing. I always wonder where all the protesters are. Every year in the fall we have people protesting the cruelty of hunting. Some will write letters to the editor of their local paper while others will actually harass, and even physically accost, a person holding a gun. These protesters are lucky that most hunters show a great level of restraint. But why do people protest hunting and not fishing? Fishing is much crueler than hunting.
Consider the typical deer hunter. What if they used bait instead of a gun – just like a fisherman. They would take a hook with a rope attached and put it inside an apple. The hunter would then place the apple on the ground and wait for some unsuspecting deer to come along. As soon as the deer chomps onto the apple the hunter would jerk hard on the rope and set the hook. The deer would then be dragged, kicking and fighting, back to the hunter. Now the hunter has the same three scenarios available to every fisherman:
Scenario #1 – Catch and Release.
This is the choice of most “conservationists”. The hunter removes the hook as carefully as possible. They then take a ‘selfie’ with the deer to show everybody what a successful hunter they are. Then the deer is released so that it can be caught, dragged and then released again.
Scenario #2 – The Stringer.
The deer has a large metal apparatus threaded through its mouth. It is then tied to a tree so that it can be kept alive, kicking and fighting, while other deer might be caught. Once the hunting is done then this deer will be placed alive into a cooler for the ride home so that it can slowly suffocate.
Scenario #3 – Death.
The hunter hits the deer on the head and kills it immediately. The deer is then dressed and prepared for processing. The deer feels no pain and does not fear for its’ life.
Most hunters prefer scenario #3. Good hunters try to kill their target with one clean shot. Hunters do not look for animals that will “put up a good fight” like fishermen do. But for most fishermen “catch and release” is considered to be the sign of a “true conservationist”.
And, fishermen do not use apples. They often use live bait. Imagine a hunter taking a live animal, like a rabbit, and putting a hook through its back and then tossing it out as bait. Most people would be appalled. But this is exactly what fisherman do on a daily basis.
And then there is snagging. The hunter puts a large grappling hook on a rope and then tosses it into the woods. He then pulls the rope in hoping that the hook will jab into the side of some unsuspecting animal. Sounds pretty cruel but fisherman do it all the time.
So why do people protest hunting but not fishing? Is it because we believe a mammal to be more important than a fish? Maybe we believe this because we ourselves are mammals. I think that if fish were granted the same rights as mammals there would be protesters at boat landings rather than in the woods.