The Gaping Wound In The Cruelty Argument – By Garry Mallard

Editors Note: This is one of the most important and well written Op Ed’s you will read on this subject. Thank you Garry for submitting it to us.
I’ve read many specious and offensive statements in the press recently, which paint hunters as vicious and cruel people, irresponsible and violent by nature, the despoilers of public safety. Greens and preservationists are particularly fond of playing-up what they portray as extraordinarily cruel and painful deaths suffered at the hands of wicked hunters. While I admit that save for the close-quarter headshot from a high-powered rifle it would be ridiculous to claim that hunted animals are dispatched painlessly, I do believe that responsible hunters can take steps to minimise pain and suffering, and I believe the vast majority do.
All that aside, the thing that strikes me as particularly non-sequitur, is the fact that the anti-hunting/cruelty lobby appears to premise its arguments on two very flawed beliefs: 1) that an animal that is not taken by a hunter will live forever, and 2) that an animal that proves to be mortal after all, will eventually die by nature’s hand, at a rare old age, quickly, without pain or distress, probably in its sleep.
In many years of hiking through some extraordinarily remote and pristine locations in Australia, and elsewhere too, I have come across a number of dead or dying animals in the bush. It has always struck me that many of these animals have suffered lingering, unpleasant, wasting declines, while waiting for nature to “take its course”. Indeed some have been so weak from illness or malnutrition that they’ve fallen prey to healthier predators that have shown no concern whatsoever for the comfort of their prey.  I’ve seen ancient deer nearing the end of their lives, too old and tired to defend themselves, being torn apart by wild dogs. I’ve witnessed pigs in a similar state, eaten by other pigs and I’ve witnessed buffalo, too old and weak to escape a marsh, die a slow and unpleasant death in the mud. I once came across a very old emaciated and tick infested Kangaroo, lying under a bush, and having been disturbed by my hiking group, it raised itself from its deathbed
 and took-off at a staggering hop, straight into a billabong where it drown, very slowly and in great distress. But of course I have described only the fate that may await animals that die of old age in a natural setting.
I have also seen the majestic wedge-tailed eagle taking rabbits, wallabies and lambs with no apparent concern for the pain felt by a prey that has been impaled on massive, needle-sharp raptor talons. I have seen pythons crushing the life out of bilbies and bandicoots, lizards and frogs, none of which appeared to expire painlessly. And I have witnessed the unique approach that Komodo dragons apply to the ‘hunt’; one where the prey – which can vary in size from that of a small child, to a fully grown water buffalo – is bitten with a mouth so rancid that the resulting bacteria-filled wound kills the victim slowly, days later. It’s not a pretty death! And of course there are crocodiles in some locations, which use massive jaws to take their unsuspecting prey by the head as it stoops to drink at a waterhole. Thanks to the marvels of modern wildlife photography we have all witnessed graphic hunter-prey images on the tele which demonstrate quite conclusively, how inhumane death in the wild is really likely to be.
As one who lives in the bush, I have seen literally thousands of dead kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums, bandicoots, potoroos, foxes, rabbits, cats, dogs, raptors, ducks, moorhens etc. ad nauseam, all mown down by cars. And this tally only accounts for the animals that ended their lives on the roadside after their encounters with cars. It does not include the many thousands more that, after being ‘clipped’, continue into the undergrowth, only to die lingering deaths along with any young they may harbour in a pouch.  As I understand it, Greens and preservationists, while concerned about how their cars are powered, drive cars nonetheless, often in the country and even into National Parks. I suppose they must consider that the risk they pose is an acceptable one, as assessed against principles that determine that the impact of a car is less painful, more humane and therefore more acceptable than the impact of, say, an arrow. I’d dearly love to see the objective research supporting that belief.
My point is this – any suggestion that denying hunters access to public lands will in some way guarantee that all wildlife will live long and fruitful lives, followed by a swift and painless death surrounded by family and friends, is 
anthropomorphic and non-sequitur at best. Anthropomorphic because animals are not people and do not share human expectations of life and death. Non-sequitur because there is an abundance of available evidence that clearly demonstrates that life in the wild is highly unlikely to culminate in a surgically swift and painless conclusion as if by divine right.
As hunters we have a responsibility and the capacity to ensure that when taking animals, we do so ethically, taking all precautions to ensure that the death we aim to cause is not unusually slow, painful or otherwise unusually cruel. This is a responsibility that must underpin each and every hunting expedition and, in my experience, for the vast majority of hunters it does.
The key to promoting a culture of responsible ethical and ‘humane’ hunting is a combination of education, peer-example, the diligent reporting of bad practice, and penalties for breaching the rules, whether they are the rules of the State, or a club’s rules.  There will always be a minority who will not want to abide by the rules. Responsible hunters and politicians can no more ensure 100% compliance with sensible, ethical hunting rules, than Greens can ensure that 100% of the people they encourage to attend a ‘peaceful and non-violent demonstrations’ will behave in a peaceful and non-violent manner.
Hunters cannot guarantee that hunting accidents will not occur, anymore than National Parks & Wildlife staff can guarantee that no camper will ever be hit by a falling limb, and no Ranger will ever be bitten by a snake in the course of his/her duties. Life, outside the bubble, is not safe and when the inevitable happens we must remember that fact, and try not to overreact.
I am both a bushwalker and a hunter, and I believe there is scope for all to enjoy our public lands for myriad purposes – walking, camping, horse and bike riding, 4-wheel driving and hunting. If a hunter breaks the rules, he/she should be prosecuted and not every hunter banned. We accept that there are certain risks associated with driving on Australian roads. When someone breaks the rules in such a way as to make the risks unacceptable – people who drink and drive for instance –  we prosecute the irresponsible party, we do not ban all driving on suburban streets. I believe that opposition to this cooperative philosophy of land use and social responsibility is often born of what is nothing more complex than cult

ural intolerance. Many people who call hunting excessively cruel and dangerous, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, do so simply because they have no interest in hunting themselves, and do not respect hunting as a cultural practice of many thousands of years. Yet, many anthropologists believe that the invention of the bow & arrow, as a reliable means of taking game, was as important an epoch in human development as the discovery of fire on demand, the invention of the wheel and the development of language.
For those of us who make bows and arrows, who enjoy the hunt and strive to use the game we take to the fullest, the preservation of the cultural aspect of what we do is our driving force. Some would have you believe that this is in fact the preservation and proliferation of a weapons culture, but that’s a shallow and deceptive argument. Many assaults and murders are committed by assailants wielding screwdrivers and hammers. Are carpenters and electricians responsible for surreptitiously fostering a weapons culture?  After all, hammers are very effective weapons, and every household harbours at least one. Sneaky antisocial carpenters!
I think the passage of cars on Australian roads is an astonishingly clear and graphic example of what can be accomplished in the spirit of tolerance and mutually beneficial cooperation. There are 15 million vehicles registered to drive on Australian roads, many of which will, at times, do so at speeds in excess of 100 kph. Yet all that separates me travelling south at 100 kph, from you travelling north at 100 kph, is a 4 inch wide white line painted on the road, a set of constantly evolving rules, and an appreciation for the fact that as we pass each-other, it is mutually beneficial to abide by those rules and remain on the correct side of that line. I think that by comparison with the risks associated with driving on the highway or in the suburbs, the risks associated with sharing the bush with a very limited number of licensed, responsible hunters, simply pales into insignificance.
I encourage opponents of hunting to redirect their efforts towards developing the rules, principles and systems that will allow us all to enjoy the use of our public lands. I also encourage Greens, preservationists and anti-hunting lobbyists to consider carefully the statements they make publically; statements that are often highly offensive to law-abiding hunters, and disrespectful to a culture thousands of years in the making and one of the oldest traditional practices still practiced today.

30 thoughts on “The Gaping Wound In The Cruelty Argument – By Garry Mallard”

  1. An excellent and logical article. However I don’t suppose any Greens or other environmental zealots will give credence to logic and reason – it goes against their strategy of emotional appeals and faulty arguments. Thanks for bringing this article to the fore.

  2. Well said Garry.

    Every day of our ever extending lives we must eat to survive.
    In 70 years that’s about 76,650 meals.
    For some of those meals over the years I grew the vegetables and fruit, milked the goat, collected the honey, raised the chooks for the table or collected the eggs, myself – work in town permitting.
    For a few meals, of the tens of thousands, I went out hunting, as man has always done, I’ll say it again – ALWAYS DONE! and most times returned with the rabbit, goat, deer or fish sought. Once I went out with a rifle – and came home with a head shot fish….go figure…
    I am always pleased to look back on life and see that my careful efforts growing plants and hunting for meat allowed me to occasionally contribute in some way to the 76,650 meals that I needed – to get me here to today.
    I really should have done more though. Maybe next time I will.

  3. Excellently put…..!! As a country person in his mid 60’s who has been hunting steadily for 60 odd years, totally accident free, after being taught very carefully by my father how to use and respect a firearm, I can relate well to this article. Many meals have been put on my family table by rifle / shotgun, we are currently eating our way through a very tasty and tender Chital Deer dropped with one clean shot from my 257 Weatherby …. a very different end to that of the animals driven slowly up to the “knocking box” of a Commercial Abattoir, fully aware of what awaits them, as they go to feed the Greenies and City Folk who are so ignorant and intolerant of how we do it… Nature is, by our artificial and unrealistic standards, extremely callous and cruel at times, death in the wild is rarely clean and quick! Like to see some pictures of sheep with faces / legs torn off by dingoes???? Very little is quicker or cleaner than the end after a careful stalk on totally unsuspecting prey with an equally carefully placed shot from an adequate calibre to do the job fast!

    It is not always so though. Much of my hunting has been after predators, pigs, dingos, foxes and feral cats; all species that do great damage to our domestic species / crops (which go to feed city folk again), or to our native wildlife that we spend a lot of time, energy and money protecting along with our own domestics. After much of my life being spent on the Western Downs, I am now on The Burdekin in North Qld, a great Food Bowl for much of Australia. In a relatively short time here I have shot 265 pigs so far, tally steadily climbing… After these species the only rule is: use plenty of gun and get them on the ground! A careful stalk is often not possible, you come on them by surprise and react quickly…. Don’t complain folk, it is largely YOUR food supply that we are trying to protect!!

    Consider too that there are only about 100,000 farming families left trying to maintain the food supply for 22 odd million people in Australia and 40 odd million overseas … sorry, we do not have the time to muck about sometimes where survival is at stake…. much of the survival is that of the largely unproductive urban population who spend too much time making our job ever-so-much-more-difficult with unrealistic, emotional, and lacking in fact arguments to Media and Politicians.

    Message to the Vegans …… Pigs, kangaroos, rabbits, hares, parrots, emus and a few others also like to eat your veggies!! Would you like us to continue to protect your food-of-choice or simply let the first in the paddock eat what they like and you get what is left…. better plant up the backyard if that is OK!!

    Message to the Greenies…. Feral animals have absolutely no respect for boundaries of your belovedly “sacred” National Parks and quite happily root up and eat or catch, kill and eat anything resembling food in there. The Parks need as much “management” as any well run property to keep things in reasonable balance and ensure the protection of that which is meant to be protected.

    There is currently an absolute flood of feral cats out around the Channel Country. I talked a couple of weeks ago to a friend who went out and actually ran out of ammunition after shooting over 300 of them in a relatively small section of channel … a long trip but he was going back with more (ammo) as the native birds & animals were being decimated…. He did not see any “Environmentalists” out there helping with the job, or contributing to the cost of fuel, food, and ammo for a couple of thousand km trip and 10 days or so of shooting to try to clean a reasonable area….

    Sometimes it would be a reasonable idea for the people who are so strident in their condemnation of anything to do with firearms to actually switch their brains on and let them warm up a bit BEFORE kicking their mouths into gear!!

    From a TOTALLY UNAPOLOGETIC and strongly interventionist hunting “Old Dog”…!!

  4. Well written Garry as a hunter myself I could not agree more with your comments. Cris(old dog) your reply should have been listed as a story as well as I am not really sure if your comments to Garry’s story is not better reading. but which ever way it goes you can not educate those who don’t want to be educated.

  5. What an absolutely fantastic and well balanced article. I would go as far to say one of the best I have ever read. I honestly hope this gets the publicity that it needs and deserves.

    Well done Garry!

  6. Hi,
    I think this is a beautifully written article Gary, and a great comment by Chris (old dog).
    I am one of the suburban people who don’t hunt and is an environmentalist. I have never had a problem with people hunting as long as they do it responsibly, preferably with a focus on the feral species ruining our native fauna and flora. Just to be clear – I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t shoot for example a roo, as long as you use it and not waste it, I honestly don’t see a problem.
    I hope the Greenies and protesters DO see this article. As I believe it is a fair overview of what hunting is about. Thank you to both Gary and Chris.

    Jess suburban greenie

  7. Thanks for your feedback, Jess, as a conservationist – as am I – it is a credit to reasoned thought, tolerance and unbiased comment. Just to be clear, though, I would never deploy the term “Greenie” in reference to someone like you.

    There was a time when ‘Green’ meant environmentally aware and responsible, and in that context the term could readily apply to the vast majority of ethical hunters. But these days ‘Green’ means fanatical, obstinate, closed-minded, abusive and unaccountable, and these are all attributes that are synonymous with the worst excesses of the Holy Roman Inquisition. Green statements I have read in the media lately have been culturally/doctrinally intolerant and highly offensive. Hunting is an age-old culture, worthy of recognition and preservation for the role it has played in human development, both technical and spiritual.

    For ethical hunters, hunting is neither a hobby nor a pastime. It is a legitimate spiritual endeavour; a close and quite wonderful, often very humbling connection to the land that Greens would portray to the general public – by any means necessary – as legitimate only if the hunter is of indigenous descent. I am indigenous – indigenous to planet Earth and to millions of years of an evolutionary struggle to survive and develop. Preservation of the lessons learned and the skills developed in the course of that struggle are worthy of homage and celebration, not the syndical and disrespectful derision of Greenies. They misrepresent our nature and intent in the hope of turning the population against us, and they aim to publically humiliate and vilify us. All that’s missing from the strategy of their doctrine is a decent stake and a pile of kindling.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  8. Thank goodness for the internet and sites like this where the masses can express themselves. Well said Garry and other commentators. I can’t think of a crueller death than a kangaroo tangled in a fence unable to escape or a stag with its antlers caught in the same way – seen plenty of it in the bush.

  9. Well said Gary.
    The protests against hunting also pales when we see the debarcle that is live export, transporting cattle all over Australia, making spend days in feedlots then holding bays at the abbatiors

  10. Hi Gary , and ( Chris ) well done on the story so true and profound . I just got back from Wilcannia NSW and saw the devestation wild dogs ( dingos & pigs ) are doing . This article should be printed by every field or sporting shooter around Australia and delivered to media and your local memeber of parliment .
    The Green party is a left wing Marxisim cult , one law one world domination. We have a right and should exercise it , as I too was taught by father to respect firearms , and all animals . All should use national parks , govermant land and respect eachother regardless ..

  11. Very well written Garry with some very clear and concise arguments.

    It’s a shame that there are groups and individuals who would stop hunting in support of their own narrow minded agenda; not conservationists, but protectionists and liberationists who have somehow confused human rights and emotions with those of the very species that are sold in plastic wrapped styrofoam trays or preserved in tin cans. There is no common sense to their approach, there can’t be.

    Those that do choose to lead a strict vegan lifestyle have not put any time aside to think about the impact that their choice has on the planet. How much land has to be cleared to produce one thousand kilos of food in a season? How many small reptiles, mammals, birds, insects and other invertebrates will die due to habitat loss, or as a result of ongoing agricultural activity? What will be the impact on our biodiversity if we choose to put our efforts into cropping?

    Now from a hunter’s perspective, shoot one bull giraffe in southern Africa or a small herd of fallow deer in NSW and we will have produced the same amount of food by specifically targeting a small number of animals with no further impact on the environment.

    As humans it is in our nature to make change in order to survive, everything we do has an impact on the environment. So I would suggest that the best result is a balanced approach where agriculture – both cropping and raising of domesticated animals – and hunting in a controlled fashion would be the most appropriate solution to satisfy our needs, traditions and cultural requirements. Vegetarians can continue to eat beans and lentils, most of the community will eat the odd steak or chicken, and a few whacky individuals will stick to hot chips and tomato sauce! That’s the freedom we all deserve!

    Under a strict quota system, similar to what is used all around the globe including our own seasonal duck hunting and annual kangaroo and crocodile harvest, hunting is a sustainable activity and if well managed can generate funds to set aside more habitat for wildlife.

    Regardless of what sense you made in your article or the points I’ve made above, the protectionists and liberationists will fail to make any attempt to understand our point of view. our best chance is to create laws that enshrine our right to hunt. Then we can continue the philosophical discussion about why we hunt, all the time knowing that we have the right to hunt.

  12. Daggaboy: “Regardless of what sense you made in your article or the points I’ve made above, the protectionists and liberationists will fail to make any attempt to understand our point of view.”

    Bingo! This is precisely why I suggest a two-pronged approach.

    Yes, enshrine the right in law (legislation), but bowhunters in particular, because of archery’s very long, unique and extraordinarily well documented history, have an opportunity to talk widely about the historical/cultural significance of hunting, and cultural vilification – indeed demonization – of somthing of cultural sygnificance is much trickier ground for our detractors to negotiate.

  13. I came back to have a bit of a look tonight with some trepidation …. unsure of what may have been stirred up, especially in this time of pretty fierce electronic abuse….. I was most relieved and almost delighted to read so many supportive comments!!

    Thank you!!

    As a number have said, no matter what arguments we put forward, or the supporting evidence, those with the closed minds and open mouths will not deviate … It is far simpler to ignore the idiotic and simply get on with well researched and field tested good management practices. The consequences of doing otherwise are not good for anyone / anything….

    I would hope that somehow this article, and perhaps even the attached comments will get to be widely read!

    Cheers All!!

    Old Dog. ……. ( never underestimate one!)

  14. This is the best article on this subject I have ever read. I will share this as best as I can.

    Thanks for the read,

    Just another keen hunter

  15. Thanks Garry,
    I truly hope your article gets the recognition it deserves.
    I will share it as soon as I can.

    Jess suburban conservationist

  16. Thanks Jess. FYI, the article has been re-published, gloriously unedited, by Online Opinion, here

    It couldn’t hurt to “Like” and “Tweet” it either, if people do Facebook and Twitter.

    Now it’s in the ‘mainstream’ I can expect it’ll cause a little brouhaha. Interesting, tho, after the editor read it he responded with, “Interesting, I’ve never thought about hunting from that perspective before”. That response, from a crusty journo, is quite encouraging I think.

  17. Well written & I support responsible hunters who respect our environment & our wildlife. I encourage all hunters to reduce the vermin in this country so long as they are respectful of the animal they kill. I abhor cruelty.
    I also love our wildlife & would never kill any of it unless to stop it suffering. When I was in my 20’s I shot my 1st roo & felt so bad I have never shot one since.I love our forests & am against old growth logging. I guess you would call me a tree hugger! I have voted the Greens. Does that make me a “Left Wing Marxist”? I don’t agree with all they believe. But at least they will do more to protect the environment that we walk through when we are hunting than the Liberal or Labor Government. Not all Green Voters are Leftist commos. So please don’t categorize me into any group. If you can suggest a better party to vote for let me know.
    A kill must be as quick & painless as possible. I can’t understand how any person could get satisfaction from killing an Elephant, Rhino, Bear or another unique & amazing creature. We don’t need to so why do it. If you do, you deserve no less than the animal you kill.
    While I don’t totally agree with a roo cull on a farm I am mindful of the farmer. I also understand who created the problem in the 1st place.
    And lastly I enjoy eating rabbit & always try for a head shot.

    That’s me.

  18. BaZZ – How about voting for the Shooters and Fishers Party? They have a platform for supporting outdoors persuits including hunting. The Greens are anti guns and anti hunting, any hunter who votes for them is literally shooting themselves in the foot. You seem a bit mixed up mate, either you are a hunter or you are not and killing animals is part of what happens when you hunt.

  19. Hi, just stumbled upon the site, and this was the first article I read. Well done, very well written and too true. Unfortunately, those that are the most opposed to our sport, are also those that are too pig headed and self opinionated to even read this if it was served to them on a silver platter.

    The only thing we can do, is continue to set personal standards and try to act “at”, or above them, not giving these small minded minority any ammunition to use against us.

  20. Well done Garry, the only comment I can think of to improve your
    article, is to add that every hunter, shooter,should be a member of the S&f Party, as only through political power will we be able to secure our future, as the radical green psychos are determined to destroy our way of life. Best of luck for the future.

  21. Well said Garry. The problem we face not just as shooters but also as hunters is that we combating just about every political party, the main stream media and well funded, internationally supported organisations like GCA. Now political parties and the GCA have an agenda to take firearms from all of the public and this will be achieved a bit at a time. They do this by introducing endless and unnecessary red tape and increasing costs to the point where people say, “it’s just too hard”. Next they’ll place restrictions on what we can own and where we can use it.

    We saw Howard (twice) forcing his personal dislike for firearms onto the states which resulted in millions wasted, restricting and buying back certain firearms which did NOTHING to make us safer and just gave organisations like GCA something to keep bringing up (and they still are) today.

    The main stream media are more interested in sensationalist stories than the truth and facts.

    I am not saying give up and give in but shooting organisations need to do more. Fund raise for a fighting fund and take on governments and the media like the NRA do and then maybe we’ll be left alone to enjoy our sport and criminals will be locked up and most importantly tell the Feds to keep put of state matters.

  22. Absolutely great article Garry i hope this gets around and a copy should go to the extreme greens, i would like to see the response to this.
    I have a light hearted short story to share.
    I met some very green people once who live in the same country area as me, i was marroning at the time [legally] and they [man and wife and two kids] wandered along and saw me, stopped and had a look, said hello and informed me politely that they thought i was doing the wrong thing by catching and killing and eating a harmless creature. they were friendly so instead of telling them [something unprintable] i decided to play nice and talk about things with them. I asked them what they believed in, they said they were vegitarians,abhorred all forms of animal killing,live export, were against any form of logging,clearfelling or burning off the bush.I took one look at them and knew they were either very new to the green game or had to be the worst hippocrites in the movement.
    The man was wearing a near new AKUBRA hat, i said do you know how that hat is made? he said it was made of felt,i said yes thats right its rabbit felt,about 10 rabbits per hat,he started to get a funny look on his face so i dived right in: “nice boots mate blunnies are they? Made of leather if im not mistaken,so is the belt by the way,your daughters ugg boots look great too, sheep hide eh? i bet you live in a timber house with a metters stove too,wouldnt want to waste gas would ya?
    at this point they got into their 100 series deisel landcrusier and drove off still with very silly looks on their faces. I cracked a beer and pissed myself laughing for a good 20 minutes then took my marron home cooked and ate them, delicious. I THANK GOD IM AUSTRALIAN EVERYDAY.

  23. Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.
    Is it very difficult to set up your own blog?
    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.

    I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin.
    Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thank you

Leave a Reply