Trophy Time

Gratuitous displays of hunting dominance quickly spread across our wired world

By Rob Breeding

I sold my humble abode the other day. It’s time to move on as all this permanency was making me nervous about putting down roots.

There was one glitch in the deal. The previous owner left a large, ‘60s era couch in the basement. Since there was just me in the joint, and the upstairs had plenty of room, I never bothered with the basement. When I moved in, I saw the couch as a handy place to store my fishing gear, and never even gave it a sit.

The new owner didn’t want the old thing, however, so I got the boys together and we hauled it up the basement stairs. That’s as far as we got. At the top of the narrow passage, with the old couch standing on end, we assessed our options. It stood about a foot taller and a half a foot wider than the door to the backyard. To the other side, up two steps, was a slightly larger door that led to the galley kitchen.

If we somehow managed to get the beast through the door into the kitchen, we’d then have to execute a tight U-turn through the narrow space.

Though the backyard was tantalizingly close, I gave up. I told the boys to ease the dusty, rust-colored Titanic back down the stairs. Surgery was in order.

Reciprocating saws are wonderful, so long as you don’t sever any extremities. The following morning I quickly rendered the beast into chunks small enough to fit through the doorway. But before the boys and I hauled it out, we documented the event with a proper trophy shot of me with a foot propped up, Captain Morgan style, on the now deceased furniture.

The photo exposed what a poser I am, revealing my footwear for this “manly” activity was a pair of gray Crocs. And no, they weren’t steel toed to protect from wayward cuts gone wrong. Fortunately, all 10 of my little piggies remain where they belong.

What made the photo proper? Well, proper may be an exaggeration as the image is really proof that no matter how old, we males never fully purge juvenile stupidity from our systems. But I can say what would have made the photo improper: if my Croc had been resting on an African lion or elephant or giraffe.

I’m not against African trophy hunting, per se. When done properly, within the context of a sustainable game management plan, and when the meat is utilized by locals for whom protein is a scarce and precious resource, it’s not my business to tell people they shouldn’t travel to Africa to kill the trophy beast of their dreams. There was a time when I desperately wanted to express my own inner Hemingway and safari across the continent killing magnificent beasts. It’s an urge I never fulfilled, however, and now fortunately no longer desire.

What I am against are the gratuitous displays of hunting dominance that so quickly spread across our wired world. Hunters may be a little more tolerant of these improper displays of deep-seated psychological inadequacy, because we’ve all been guilty of vain displays of prowess ourselves. You’ll find examples of this on my Facebook page, including a photo of me with the one bull elk I’ve killed. It’s hardly a bad shot. Just me holding the decent-sized antlers of the recently fallen beast.

Vain, self-aggrandizing photos of great white hunters and their conquered game are seen differently in the non-hunting world. What non-hunters see are slob hunters.

A hunter commemorating a kill is one thing. In fact, it’s part of the process of honoring the beast who gave it’s life so we may eat and, well, procreate again, to paraphrase Jim Harrison.

There is great shame in disrespecting the beast, however, unless it’s an old, threadbare couch. Then you’re just a dork.