The Outdoor Show in a Suburban New York State Town

By Valerie Will

It felt like I had stepped into the “Twilight Zone.” Men were sauntering around with the remains of dead animals on their heads–the glistening plastic eyes of foxes and skunks staring over the men’s foreheads with the furry tails swayed on camouflaged shoulders.

Families were lined up, paying their dollars, to walk past once beautiful wild animals who were now lying listlessly in their small, stuffy cages–a declawed mountain lion, a lonely wolf and a tired deer. Further on was a “raptor” exhibit where regal nocturnal owls were forced to endure lights and crowds. One owl was obviously suffering from the stuffy warm room and had to continually have water sprayed into its mouth as a small fan failed to cool him properly. The majestic eagle was tethered to a fake plastic pool. Not that far away from the “live” animals were the stands with row after row of pelts that no longer covered the bodies of foxes and coyotes. One could even buy the flattened, eyeless “face” of a real fox for just a few dollars–a real bargain at this show.

In another part of the room even more eyes stared: the deadened eyes of “trophy” animals. Killed and stuffed, a once powerful bear with a fake grimace stood among the remains of animals he never would have been near if they, too, hadn’t become victim of the trophy hunter’s gun or arrow. Seeming way out of place in displays of huge wild animals, curiously enough, was a miniature deer. A sign above one display of trophy animals declared that this group fought for “hunter’s rights.” In the name of hunter’s rights they spent $22,000.00 to stop a deer immunocontraception program. In this nightmare world it would seem that shooting a deer with an arrow is preferable to preventing a deer being born in the first place. One would assume the reasoning being you can’t mount a deer that hasn’t been born. A seminar was taking place in one room. The slides showed arrows that had been shot through necks and jaws–causing deer to starve to death. The audience was told that they should watch for blood trails after hitting their deer. We were also told that not all wounded deer were found, but yet this bloodsport is “adventure!”

While some seemed to need to convince attendees that hunting was done to control wildlife populations, others were inviting them to pay to hunt animals on a preserve. In fact, you could travel thousands of miles to do it. While some bragged that it was “hunter’s dollars” that paid for wildlife programs, a State agency was handing out brochures that reported “General Fund” tax dollars paid for wildlife programs, too. Some campaigned to recruit “outdoors women” while other tables sold bumper stickers and t-shirts that demeaned women.

All the hunter’s talk about “respecting the animal” seemed to be ridiculed by the taxidermied deer that was displayed sitting on a toilet.

As I left the building, turkey calls ringing in my ears, I felt sick. How could human beings really enjoy looking at the caged, miserable wildlife; how could they walk by all the dead faces and not feel remorse? How could they be so enthused about and be willing to pay for snuffing out the life of our wonderful wild animals? I went to the outdoor show to further my education on the bloodsports. I left realizing I had actually learned more about a certain segment of society than I really cared to know.

VALERIE WILL is the past President of Animal Rights Advocates of Western New York. She is currently on their Advisory Board and is Wildlife Director.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561