Hunting: The most human of activities

By Andrew Bonallack

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Pictures of large, dead mammals covered in blood is not something you can run in every newspaper.
Pictures of large, dead mammals covered in blood is not something you can run in every newspaper.

ONCE again the single, pointed photo sparks some of the strongest comments on our Facebook site, which, if nothing else, demonstrates how important photo-journalism is at a time when photographers are a dying breed in newspapers.

The photo was of three men, among a crowd, contemplating a large collection of hanging wild pig, following a pig hunting competition that concluded with a weigh-in at the Homestead Bar in Masterton.

A photo page of the pigs and other animals can be seen on page 7 of this issue.

Opinion was divided, albeit not evenly, between those who opposed blood sports, and those (in the majority) who saw pigs as pests and a source of food.

Pictures of large, dead mammals covered in blood is not something you can run in every newspaper.

Readers of my former community suburban newspapers in Wellington, for example, probably wouldn't have been able to stomach it.

The culture of hunting is something I personally am indifferent about; what is important is recognising there is a culture, a way of life, in communities where rural values set the theme.

It's a community where children as young as 4 are wanting to help bring the pig to the weigh-in.

Older children are proudly turning up with hares, rabbits and possums. And even older children have taken part in the pig hunt itself. Displaying the results of a combined hunt, and admiring each other's dead beast, is about as human as it gets.

And there's the added value in that most of it will get eaten.

Let's not kid ourselves; hunting is a sport, and perhaps it is a shame that often it's not a easy death for the pig.

But the logistics of hunting these animals doesn't always lend itself to a quick death.

So, as I contemplated around 40 dead animals, it was a case of remembering where I was (as it probably was for the two fascinated tourists from the nearby hotel).

And as an aside, I owe a thanks to one hunter for being kind when I mistook the heaviest carcass for a pig.

In my defence, a de-headed deer, missing its lower leg quarters, looks pretty similar.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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