by Ken Gale

I’m jealous of hunters. I think I always have been, but didn’t realize it until a few years ago. I’m aware that there are hunters and there are idiots with guns and that there is a vast overlap, but not an exact correlation. I know poor families in upstate New York whose main meat supply is deer they hunt themselves.* But I still have a visceral reaction against hunters. I realized it was at least partly jealousy while reading a discussion of rail hunting on BirdChat, an online listserve for birders (you might know us as birdwatchers).

I’ve been a birder most of my life. It’s a great hobby: one way to see new species of birds is to go to beautiful places you’ve never been to before. Rails are water birds that nest and live in the reeds in wetlands (we used to say swamps or marshes). Most species are uncommon, not rare, but they are secretive and seldom seen and thus highly desired by birders. To read that they’re hunted in several states was appalling to me.

And how do they hunt them? They go in boats, run through the reeds, flush them out and shoot them. Flush them out? No fair! When I go to a wildlife “refuge,” I stay on the path. I don’t want to disturb the animals there. Not the birds I went to the refuge to see or any other critter. Hunters, on the other hand, don’t care if they disturb the animals; they’re there to kill them. What’s more disturbing than that? So here I am, a “non-consumptive wildlife hobbyist,” obeying the rules and making my presence have as little impact as possible and not seeing the rails, but hunters get to go wherever they want and see a helluva lot more rails than I ever will.

Man am I jealous!

Ken Gale
Producer/host, Eco-Logic
WBAI, NYC, 99.5 FM

[*Editor’s note: “Subsistence hunters” are a fraction of a percent of all hunters. Wildlife is not managed for them.]


Contact Us

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