In a blog post, Galen Geer questions the very term "sport hunting." I tend to agree. (It comes after the part about checking his blood pressure in the duck blind to prove something to his physical therapist.)
[At a recent Orion institute seminar there] was a lot of free discussion about the present state of recruitment to the outdoors but I heard something that was, to me, very important for the future of hunting, and it was the simple statement that hunting would be referred to as “hunting” and not “sport hunting” or have any other adjectives affixed to it. This is something that I totally agree with. I believe that we must stop the practice of trying to hide hunting under a pile of adjectives. I make this argument even after a great deal of research has shown me that the basis for “sport hunting” goes back to ancient Greece when the phrase “hunting for sport” actually appears in the writing of Xenophon.Meanwhile, in an interview on the Huffington Post, Holly Heyser discusses the difference between male and female hunters, advice for beginners, and her philosophy on eating wild foods.
Yeah, I may be a bit of a radical with some of my thinking on this subject, but what the hell, here goes: When I decided to take up hunting, my secret fear was that I would become callous toward animals. Surprise, surprise - the opposite happened. My respect for animals has grown exponentially, as has my love for them.(If you hear echoes of Paul Shepard there, you are right.)
I can hear the shrieks of horror already. "Respect? Love? But you kill them." I know it doesn't appear to make sense at all. Work with me: Most human relationships with animals are with domestic animals, and whether they're pets or food animals, they've all been reduced to a perpetual state of childhood, not just in their dependency, but often in terms of their mannerisms and behavior. The more I saw wild animals, though, the more respect I had for their amazing capabilities (and the more respect I had for wild humans, too).
Plus there is a list of outstanding contemporary books on hunting, and I was happy to see that I have an essay in one of them, A Hunter's Heart: Honest Essays on Blood Sport, David Petersen, ed.
But there is that "sport" word again. Galen has been researching its employment and concludes that it no longer fits. (It's like the term "sports coat," a 19th-century British coinage fossilized in the menswear industry.) Today the term "sports" means organized athletics, people wearing numbers on their backs.
We don’t box with, play tennis or football with, or any other organized activity, the animals we hunt. We don’t need to lie to ourselves or to the non-hunter by falling back on euphemisms to soften our language. We can start by removing one word and simply saying that we hunt, we go hunting, we are hunters.