Yesterday I was off to the local pick-your-own farm orchard with my boy, mostly to take advantage of one of the finest weather days of the year. I watched him pedal on the trikes when I saw one of the farm cats hustle off underneath a picnic bench with a field mouse clenched in his maw. Soon, the gang of children playing on the pedal tractors followed the cat and watched the happy feline devour its hapless prey. In a matter of a few minutes, there was nothing left. Not a hint the poor mouse had ever existed. The kids weren’t upset nor grossed out, nor traumatized in the least. They were actually quite fascinated at the prospect of a cat catching, killing, and eating its prey.
I suspect there is some kind of a fraternal bond between man and the completely carnivorous cat. But I also suspect that the fact that cat left no trace of the mouse helped too. Often when the cat kills for the sake of killing it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Years ago, we had a cat, Midnight, who was a specimen on all fronts. Jet black, famously affectionate, and a champion killer when he ventured out into the wild. But he often killed just for sport, and that turned people off. He would drag carcasses up to the house — were they trophies, or was he just trophies, or was he just hunting out of instinct, and just too sick to eat his kill? Midnight died young from complications of concomitant diseases.
Conversely, this discussion reminds me of a film I saw recently called, “The Hunter,” the 2011 Australian film, directed by Daniel Nettheim and starring Willem Dafoe, about a mercenary hunter sent to Tasmania to hunt the last Tasmanian tiger for a military biotech company. I’m going to have play the role of a spoiler here, so if you want to watch this compelling movie, stop reading here. It turns out later that after Dafoe develops connections with some of the locals in his pursuit of this legendary creature, the biotech company gets impatient and sends another hunter to finish the job. This hunter decides to wreaks havoc on Dafoe and the family Dafoe had befriended. Then Dafoe gets mad. He gets revenge on hunter #2, and after realizing that the biotech company will stop at nothing to hunt the tiger so they can exploit its organs and tissue, finally finds the Tasmanian tiger creature and kills it. The most moving moment occurs then, when Dafoe breaks down in tears, hoists the perished creature up and carries it off like a dead son. He burns it on a bonfire then calls the biotech firm and tells it that it will never meet its objective in harvesting the Tasmanian tiger. Very moving picture on the other side of the hunt.
Then of course, there is the perhaps greatest of all hunting movies, the Russian flick, Особенности национальной охоты, Peculiarities of the National Hunt, about a Finn who yearns to learn the utmost about hunting Russian style, of course, drenched in vodka. The film is a comedy, but most of it the jokes are quite cultural, so if you do see it, see it with a Russian, or at least with a good bottle of Russian vodka.
All that said, I am not a hunter of animals, but I do like to eat them. I occasionally hunt information, and I typically refrain from gossip.