Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Thrill of the Kill (or Kill Your Pet Lion)

Ted Williams writes on the phenomenon of canned hunting in Audubon magazine.

It was at Lido’s Game Farm in Taghkanic, New York, that I finally participated in a “canned hunt.”

In most canned hunts tame or semi-tame game species, reared in captivity, are placed in enclosures of varying sizes, and the gate is opened for the client, who has been issued a guarantee of success. Canned hunts are great for folks on tight schedules or who lack energy or outdoor skills. Microchip transponder implants for game not immediately visible are available for the proprietor whose clients are on really tight schedules. And because trophies are plied with drugs, minerals, vitamins, specially processed feeds, and sometimes growth hormones, they are way bigger than anything available in the wild. Often the animals have names, and you pay in advance for the one you’d like to kill, selecting your trophy from a photo or directly from its cage. For example, Rachel, Bathsheba, Paul, John, and Matthew were pet African lions that would stroll over and lick their keepers’ hands before they were shot in Texas.

But Lido’s has pheasants only, so a guy named Dave threw them from a tower for a dozen of us to shoot. Some, diseased or wounded from past shoots, dropped to the ground. Other times we’d fire simultaneously, and the bird would exude feathers as if you’d shaken a slashed pillow in a nor’easter. Once someone shot while Dave was still holding the pheasant, and he screamed: “Hey, what you shooting at? Don’t never play games wid me!” The year was 1991, and I was on assignment for Audubon.

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