Saturday 30 October 2010

Deer-ly Beloved…

It’s been a bit of a stag week, hasn’t it?

Ruaridh Nicoll (comment editor of the Observer) starts off well, impressing the ladies with his rugged alpha male provider image:
At night around this time of year we'd hear the whistling of the sika on the rut. Sika bucks send three long clear notes out into the cooling sky, an ethereal sound, and as a boy I would hide among the hillocks above the treeline and wait for them to come into open country. Then, taking account of the wind and their fellows, I would crawl through bog myrtle, rush and heather to put myself in the spot where I could take the shot.
Before revealing himself to be…well, a little less than manly.

In fact, a bit of a bitch:
The gunman – it's almost certain to be a man – who killed the Exmoor Emperor is unlikely to have done the same. He would have most likely had a professional stalker with him, a guide whose eyes were adapted to seeing deer where they stood or lay, and who was attuned to the way the wind moves so that the shooting party could always stay downwind of the prey. The shooter, most likely, was led to the Emperor, placed in the right position, and told when to pull the trigger.
The bounder! Doesn’t he know a real man crawls through the undergrowth!
This is not to particularly disparage the man who killed this magnificent beast (although I'm being a little snobbish)…
You’re being more than a little. And here comes one heck of a disparaging:
What I object to – and why the story of the Emperor is powerful – is the instinct that made this hunter want to shoot the most beautiful stag he could find.
Because if you’re going to hang something on your wall, you don’t want it to be a cross-eyed mutant with no ears and a tiny set of antlers, perhaps?
There are many odd impulses and instincts at play in hunting. There is the challenge of stalking, the dutiful sense of managing numbers for the good of the landscape, and the age-old need to store food for the winter.
Which you helpfully tell us you embody…
The instinct that makes a man kill a creature like the Emperor, I have always believed, rises from inadequacy.
‘I only shot a teeny tiny stag, ladies! Therefore, behold my mighty manhood!’

Is that really how it goes, Ruaridh? Are you sure?
There was a German hunter I used as a guide when I was this paper's Africa correspondent (for environmental stories, not to shoot). He had an American client who would go out after antelope, zebra, even elephant. It would be a big party – with several trackers, the guide, and the hunter's wife. "It was the strangest thing," the guide told me as we sat round the fire one night. "Every time he shot something, his wife would run out and lie on the animal and he would have sex with her there. With all of us standing by … [long pause] It was embarrassing." Whoever killed the Exmoor Emperor was, I suspect, working from the same instincts.
Ah. Right.

Now, far be it from me to point out that, second only to fishermen, big game hunters must surely be the biggest purveyors of tall tales and hilarious stories ever.

And that particular story has probably been told (with the nationalities juggled a bit) to every client he escorts.

But Ruaridh’s only getting warmed up, so to speak:
Of all the thousands of beasts he could have murdered, he chose the one the whole nation had oohed and aahed over.
No, pretty sure that was Paul the Psychic Octopus…
Of course, I grew up and went into newspapers, another hunting business. Which is why I know that man who killed the Emperor has made a mistake; we journalists will now be desperate to find out who he is. He will now be hunted, just as surely as he was the hunter.
And when you find him, will you have se…

No, better not finish that thought. I need a gallon of mindbleach already!

Of course, the journalist's list of suspects should really incorporate some unlikely candidates:
An orphaned deer was put down by the RSPCA because it was 'too tame'.
Oh, how sad! And how did it get that way?

The fawn had been plucked from its pregnant mother after she was killed in a car crash.

The male roe deer had been reared at the RSPCA Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, then released into the wild.
BDS spokesman David Kenyon said: 'If the RSPCA took the decision to raise the deer, then they should have taken the long-term decision to put it into a petting zoo.’
Well, indeed. And why didn’t they?

Step forward a spokesman to stand, poised on the edge of flight, ears twitching for danger:
'The ethos behind our wildlife centres is to get wild animals back to where they belong.’
In the ground?

Trust the RSPCA to want to speed up the Circle Of Life!


NickM said...

"the age-old need to store food for the winter."

Erm... What century is this? There are these things called "supermarkets". They provide a wide variety of produce all round the year. Indeed this includes venison. Plebs shop at them. Undoubtedly sir, there is one near you. If you don't want to see people in shell-suits then don't go to TESCO because Waitrose is almost as expensive as Fortnum & Mason.

Great fisking Julia. He really is "upper class twit of the year".

I mean we can't all live like Ray Mears or Hugh Fearnley Shittingstall. The whole "be a man, kill it with your own bare hands!" thing is nonsense. I eat meat but I wouldn't kill it. Hypocrite? No. Incompetent, yes. It's just division of labour. Like employing a professional stalker. I buy meat from a master butcher because I know I'd make a horlicks of it. I also don't hold flight certification for Boeing or Airbus but it doesn't stop me getting on the plane.

PS Sad to see Mr E pop his blogging clogs. Dropping like flies we are.

RAB said...

This story is complete fiction.

Where is the body? That's 300lb of dead stag supposedly. It would have needed a truck to take it away.But nobody has seen either the body or a truck and the local butchers are not having a sale of Venison. It's bollocks.

I went to sunday lunch with a girlfriend of mine in Pennsylvania back in the 70's, at her parents place.

Her dad was an undertaker (the Funeral parlour was next door to the house) and a keen hunter.

The dining room was a bit unnerving. All around the walls were the heads of animals big and small that he had bagged in his time.

We had Moose burgers for lunch. He even pointed out the very animal that we were eating. Very odd experience being watched by the thing you are chomping down on.

The rest of it was in a deep freeze in a warehouse in Harrisburg.

JuliaM said...

"He really is "upper class twit of the year". "

He is, isn't he? Usually the sort of 'toff' that would have the CiF pack baying for blood...

"The whole "be a man, kill it with your own bare hands!" thing is nonsense. "

It's interesting where this 'back to nature' thing could lead, though. It seems some designers are working in real fur again because it's 'organic'. That's going to put the cat among the pigeons!

"PS Sad to see Mr E pop his blogging clogs."

Indeed :(

"We had Moose burgers for lunch. He even pointed out the very animal that we were eating."

Best bit about my trips to he states has been the opportunity to try elk, bison, whitetail deer, etc. Sadly, I've clearly
never been in moose season.

Hope it was as good as it looked! :)