Hunting as a Sacred Act

by Cork Graham

To know Dr. James A. Swan, environmental psychologist and author of “In Defense of Hunting,” is to know a nature hunter.

To read his books it to realize that only through the nature hunter and rapidly increasing ranks of female hunters, may hunting survive the political attacks of misguided anti-hunting fanatics.

“A nature hunter,” according to Dr. Stephen Kellert, social scientist at Yale, “is a person who has a deep ‘affections, respect and reverence’ for nature. When asked, most (nature hunters) will admit that they feel that hunting is much more than a sport.

To them, ultimately it is a sacred act with as much as or more meaning than participation in organized religion.”

Hunting draws women as well as men. California’s Department of Fish and Game learned this when they expected only 100 women to sign up for the “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” seminar. By the date of the class, 500 women had signed the enrollment sheet.

“Women hunters,” Swan says, “not only swell the ranks of hunting, they bring more children to the sport. The presence of women can also tone down the rowdiness and, I think, elevate the sport to new ethical levels.”

This will create better public opinion and reduce the amount of ammunition slob hunter have been providing anti-hunters for so long. These anti-hunters are people like Cleveland Amory and Fund for Animals who have mottoes like, “If you can’t play a sport shoot one.”

Swan uses Sam Keen’s understanding of the psychology of war, to describe the anti-hunter as a people who “claim righteousness and purity, and attribute hostility and evil to the enemy,” and transfer “to the other all the characteristics one does not want to recognize in oneself.”

From his own experiences as a counselor, Swan says, he saw many activists as clients “who were acting out old conflicts with Mom and Dad as much as trying to help save the earth.”

Though hunters and anti-hunters have differences of opinion, the similarities are pronounced when they express their common desire that now species of game animal goes extinct. This communality of interests expands into the prevention of poaching and suffering of animals.

Chico State’s Dr. Jon Hooper, who collected much of his information about the two groups, pointed out that these similarities to anti-hunters. Not wanting any association with hunters, they quickly denied any similarity.

While Swan was researching his book, he attended a national wildlife conference, called “Whose Wildlife is it Anyway?”

At the conference, Wayne Pacelle, director of Fund for Animals, described Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter, as an “inveterate killer of animals,” and “repugnant,” even though it was Roosevelt who set aside lands like Yellowstone.

Another speaker, Mark Palmer from the Mountain Lion Protection Fund, said there was a “spiritual crisis” in the DFG because wildlife management is primarily based on funds collected from hunting and fishing licenses.

Because of the Mountain Lion Protection Fund’s hold on the DFG, and the resulting unchecked population of cougars, according to an “Outdoor Life” article, a species bighorn sheep in the San Jacinto Range is in danger of extinction.

Swan, a man who earned his baccalaureate in wildlife management, says, “If all hunting in American were to stop tomorrow, the consequences for many species would be devastating.”

Swan’s book, “In Defense of Hunting,” 290 pages of heavily researched information on the heavily researched information on the heated hunting debate, is published by Harper Collins.

Click on the book covers to the upper right to purchase. Dr. Swan's photo will take you to his personal site where you can get a signed copy of his books.

(this one includes"Moose Hunt, Healing Heart" by Cork Graham on page 126)

Dr. James A. Swan