Friday, October 21, 2011

First Blood Pressure Results and "Sport" Hunting

This evening I took my blood pressure cup/gizmo with me to the nearby slough.  Now, the question is whether duck hunting, which is sitting in a duck blind, lowers the blood pressure or has no effect whatsoever. 
I took my blood pressure before leaving and it was 142/76 pulse 68.  After sitting in the blind for 30 minutes I took my blood pressure and it was 136/69 pulse 72.  I’m not sure what to make of it but this is only my first day of my not so scientific study of blood pressure and duck hunting.  What is interesting is that once I was back in my office I again took my blood pressure and it was 136/79 and my pulse was 82.  Now, the only thing I can say to explain it is that I was doing some editing--of my own writing! 

This project is turning into an interesting experiment and the more I think about it the more I think I can turn it into a not-so-scientific article.  I will haul the blood pressure monitor out with me every day I go hunting until I take the results back to the VA hospital.  I am really curious to hear what my physical therapist and my primary care physician have to say about the readings.  I’m sure they will both shake their heads in a little bit of disbelief--but then both of them must consider me a bit on the pixilated side of reality.

I’ve been doing some work on my notes and ideas from the Think Tank II.  I came away from the gathering wishing it had been at least one day longer.  There was a lot of free discussion about the present state of recruitment to the outdoors but I heard something that was, to me, very important for the future of hunting, and it was the simple statement that hunting would be referred to as “hunting” and not “sport hunting” or have any other adjectives affixed to it.  This is something that I totally agree with.  I believe that we must stop the practice of trying to hide hunting under a pile of adjectives.   I make this argument even after a great deal of research has shown me that the basis for “sport hunting” goes back to ancient Greece when the phrase “hunting for sport” actually appears in the writing of Xenophon.   One probably asks why I dislike the use of “sport-hunting” in today’s language when it has been in use for more than two-thousand years?  My answer is simple--times change!  For most of that 2,000+ years hunting was a very blurred activity.  Subsistence hunting and sport hunting existed side-by-side and often within the same activity.  For the past 100+ years, with only a few exceptions, subsistence hunting has fallen out of use as a “needed” activity leaving only what had been euphemistically called sport hunting in its wake. 
There are many, many people who rely on hunting to provide them with chemical free, healthy meat protein, but to call that true subsistence is to dally about with semantic spooks.  This sort of subsistence hunting is a choice by personal philosophy and not a choice based on true need.   I am not belittling modern meat hunting as a means of providing food--I opt for that with deer and other game--it is not, however, a requirement for our survival in today's world.  There are Alaskan and South American peoples who still subsistence hunt because if they didn’t they would starve for protein.   Could it be that the users of “sport hunting” are drawing a comparison against those aboriginal peoples?   

A brief look at the OED and other word research turns up some interesting information, primarily that “sport,” as was applied to hunting, did not necessarily carry positive connotations, even as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.  In the middle of the 19th century “sport” began to increasingly be associated with athletics and less with what had been popularly known as field sports. 
The entire evolution of sport and sport hunting is more complex than my quick analysis but the point is that as we move deeper into the 21st century there is even less to be gained by adding “sport” to hunting as a means of modifying hunting.  We hunt.  We don’t harvest.  We don’t box with, play tennis or football with, or any other organized activity, the animals we hunt.  We don’t need to lie to ourselves or to the non-hunter by falling back on euphemisms to soften our language.  We can start by removing one word and simply saying that we hunt, we go hunting, we are hunters.  There is much more to be gained by being honest with ourselves and others than by trying to soothe the taste of words with imitation sugar.    

Is that so hard to do?
Think about it.



Eric C. Nuse said...

Well said. Dr. Tantillo's work on the philosophical history of hunting has convinced me that hunting is a true sport. It fits all the criteria: it is fun, it has rules (some of which are arbitrary), and it involves physical activity. (I may be missing a few but you get the idea). However, that doesn't mean using sport as an adjective is helpful. It actually implies that hunters do not follow the rules or don't expend any energy while hunting. Of course there are exceptions, I used to enjoy arresting them, but they are the bottom percent and far from the majority. I agree we are hunters and we hunt. the bottom feeders are poachers, crooks and illegal hunters. They deserve an adjective, not the rest of us.

Holly Heyser said...

"They deserve an adjective, not the rest of us." Well-put, Eric. That's really the important take-away here.

Galen Geer said...

Eric and Holly,
An interesting note from my pile of notebooks filled at past SHOT Shows. When the hunting games first appeared I was given an assignment to write a story about them. I interviewed several of the people involved and was surprised to find out that none of them were actually hunters, although they did have a hunter on retainer as an advisor.

Phillip said...

I like the idea of the blood pressure experiment, Galen. Maybe it's not under ideal laboratory conditions, but it could yield some pretty interesting results.

Onto the other topic...

This year, "sport" has negative connotations. A few decades prior, it was the opposite. And in a few decades?

I have to say, Galen, your approach is certainly novel. It's pretty much diametrically opposite from the argument I'm used to hearing.

I see a risk of outdoors writers becoming apologists for hunting, and I get the impression that they're trying to bury a sense of shame for something that we, as hunters, have no need to be ashamed of.

I'm not so foolish as to suggest that words aren't important. Good lord, I'm in the presence of writers. I occasionally think of myself as one too. Words are our world. But this discussion almost always turns into an acrimonious session of semantic navel gazing. What does "sport" mean? It means this, it doesn't mean that... blah blah...

It becomes pretty ridiculous.

And what is the real point? To get hunters and outdoors writers to banish the term "sport hunting" from our vocabulary? To what end?

What will it really change?

Serious question... is it really that important? Does it justify the heartburn and headaches that go into the discussion whenever it comes up?

Anonymous said...

The adjective I typically use is duck, goose, grouse, deer, etc. My fellow hunters understand what I am talking about, non-hunters will usually follow with a question about eating the game. Come to think of it, maybe sport would be taken out of our vernacular if we didn't refer to our quarry as game!

Phillip said...

But then, even calling it "quarry" implies the "chase" which is nothing if not sport... right?

So do we stop calling the animals we hunt "quarry" too? And dispense with notions of "the chase". But what does that mean to the whole "fair chase" discussion? Or if what we do isn't "sport", does it even matter if it's "fair"?

This is the endless, downhill spiral of the semantic discussion. You can't just discard one word and expect to change the minds of people who dislike what we are doing... and that's really what this is all about, isn't it?

I see where this all comes from, and I get it. But I just think there's a lot of energy being expended over something that's really not as important as some of us would like to think it is.

Anonymous said...

I know for sure it is a chase (and not always fair!) when my lab has her nose full of pheasant or chukar scent and we are trying to chase these birds down and corner them. It sure as hell feels like a sport when we are done.

I think this is a great discussion to have, if only for the reason it allows us to take the time to examine our pursuits. Years ago, my wife (non-hunter) asked me why I hunted and she gave me her thoughts. I won't go into the discussion, but to make a long story short we were not of the same opinion when it came to the "sport" of hunting. I'm grateful we had those discussions because it forced me to examine my hunting practices and beliefs with a critical eye. But you are right Phillip, the discussion never centered on the term "sport", it was all about the hunting itself. As long as we practice good ethics and fair chase, we should never have to apologize for our "sport" or the fact we hunt. I think this discussion is important for these reasons, which are mainly personal for me.

Now I will go back to gazing at my navel, or Mac in this case.


Galen Geer said...

Great comments!
I am giving some thought to my replies to all of you but as always, it takes me a little itme.

Craig Taylor said...

I am not a doctor or what so ever with medical profession. It just caught my attention that, does it really affect your pulse rate while duck hunting or is it because of the various activity that you do while performing duck hunting?

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