The Watering Hole, Friday March 8, 2013; The Hunter, The Hunted

According to the Lakota people of aboriginal North America, “The animals had rights — the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness — and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal, and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing.  This concept of life and its relations was humanizing, and gave to the Lakota an abiding love . . . The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one blood.”  So spoke Lakota Tribal Chief Luther Standing Bear more than a hundred years ago of a concept that has forever remained alien both to North America’s European invaders as well as to their descendants.

I’ve never been a hunter, at least not since that day some 55 years ago, give or take a couple, when I made my first (and last) real kill; I shot a squirrel out of a tree with my air-pellet pistol. He was on a branch maybe ten feet up, and I nailed him. He fell to the ground, mortally wounded but still alive. I stood there and watched him squirm a little, then felt horrified as the light in his eyes went slowly out. That was it for me in the killing department. Never again, I promised myself. I’ve kept that promise.

These days when I think of hunters, two (completely contrary) examples come to mind. First is former VP Dick Cheney who liked to wander about on well-stocked game ranches with his shotgun in search of something to kill. Not to eat, mind you; just something to provide that JOY some feel when they KILL a completely innocent critter. There was the time, of course, when the heartless (literally, as it turned out) bastard Cheney “accidentally” shot his hunter companion in the face. Missed the bird, got the lawyer. Oh well. At least he hit SOMETHING alive, drew some blood, undoubtedly felt the . . . umm . . . joy?

On the opposite side of that all-too-common odyssey stands my old college buddy, friend of more than fifty years, always the “hunter”, Denny Green. When he was young he hunted with a gun, most often with his father who was, himself, a big game hunter always in search of the quintessential Boone and Crockett ‘trophy’ candidate. Today, Denny ‘trophy’ hunts as well, but armed only with his digital Nikon and a 500 mm telephoto lens — no more guns, but a LOT more ‘trophies’!

Following are a number of Denny’s photos, most from just the last year’s explorations. They include shots taken in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona, of critters ranging from Alaskan Brown Bears to New Mexico Sandhill Cranes, with numerous other ‘trophies’ in between. And not a drop of blood was shed in his travels; no critter was harmed in any way at all (including the photographer) . . . on their respective journeys to immortality. Enjoy.

Alaska Brown Bears

                                                       Alaskan Brown Bears

Alaska Brown Bears; Lunchtime

                                                      Alaskan Brown Bears; Lunchtime

Bull Moose; Wyoming

                                                               Bull Moose; Wyoming

Rocky Mtn. Goats; Glacier National Park, Montana

                     Rocky Mtn. Goats; Glacier National Park, Montana

Bison (Wyoming)   Javelina (Arizona)

           Bison (Wyoming)                                                                Javelina (Arizona)

Pronghorn Antelope (AZ)   Bosque Deer (NM)

     Pronghorn Antelope (WY)                                                    Bosque Deer (NM)

Arizona Bobcat New Mexico Sandhill Crane

              Arizona Bobcat                                      New Mexico Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes, Socorro New Mexico

                                     Sandhill Cranes;  Socorro New Mexico

(All photos above, © Denny Green, Tempe Arizona, are posted with his permission)

I’m reminded of words by author Dr. James Lovelock who, in his book The Gaia Hypothesis, wrote:

“Could we, by some act of common will, change our natures and become proper stewards, gentle gardeners taking care of all of the natural life of our planet? I would sooner expect a goat to succeed as a gardener than expect humans to become responsible stewards of the Earth. [. . .] As individual animals we are not so special, and in some ways are like a planetary disease, but through civilisation we redeem ourselves and become a precious asset for the Earth; not least because through our eyes the Earth has seen herself in all her glory.”

That may well be the most able summation of the human condition I’ve ever run across, and more’s the pity that so few of ‘us’ ever manage even to begin to redeem ourselves or become responsible stewards of the Earth. Not sure why that is, only that it doesn’t have to be that way. Some obviously can, indeed, see the Earth . . . in all her glory. And to do so certainly doesn’t require a gun, or the death of a wild creature of any genre. It only requires the vision, the quest to ‘see’, to become . . . gentle gardeners. See above.

A final thought:

PARADOX OF HUMANKIND
Superior Inferiority

Man’s vanity proclaims himself to be
Superior to all other life on Earth.
The curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth –
Thus bold are we who advocate the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
One single moment’s introspect reveals
A Paradox, as if inscribed in stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

This is today’s open thread; Expound!