do you think we still end up as friends
AN EXCERPT FROM BLOWING SMOKE: A COMPENDIUM OF EVERYDAY EXCUSES
Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people’s excuses.
—German poet and dramatist Christian Friedrich Hebbel (1813–1863)
This is private land. Why don’t you go be a good steward somewhere else. What’s the big deal—you eat meat don’t you? Don’t be a hypocrite. Eating meat makes you strong. Sometimes I just decide to let ’em live; otherwise you have to shoot ’til they drop. Sometimes you have to stalk them for hours; stalking’s an art. It’s the hunt, not the kill, that counts. What does it matter if the hounds tear ’em apart? They’re already dead or about to be. If we didn’t use dogs we couldn’t retrieve them, and then they would limp around until they starved, which would be inhumane. I do it for recreation. It’s a legitimate form of sport. I do it for target practice. That’s just a nuisance varmint, not a game animal. No, I don’t think they have souls. Hunters respect the rights of anti-hunters; why can’t non-hunters do the same? You’re misinformed. We use sporting firearms, not combat weapons. It’s my God-given right. You aren’t in possession of the facts. If we didn’t hunt them, they’d over-run the landscape, preying on pets and livestock. I agree that it’s decorative, but it’s a rodent and breeds disease. Wasn’t that how Bubonic plague spread? No, I don’t consider it murder. Rodents are not considered animals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There have to be controls or there would be starvation, which would be cruel. Our permits and licenses underwrite wildlife management. Domestic livestock requires protection. The numbers must be managed. It’s how I was brought up. Don’t tell me that you don’t kill pests on a regular basis: spiders, gophers, mice. So what’s the problem? Ever seen what a coyote can do to a house cat? Ever seen a calf downed by wolves? Can’t you anti-hunters make logical connections? The only thing that the Vegetarian Times is good for is lighting fires. A plant-based diet Osterizes your brain. People who eat only seeds and greens can’t develop their muscles. Eating only vegetables makes your reasoning go funny, like thinking that there should be rights for animals. This is what happens when people don’t have children. This is where all that women’s lib stuff has gotten us. If women didn’t have so much control over their bodies, they wouldn’t have so much time on their hands and things would be different. They would be less interested in the suffering of animals and more aware of the suffering of man. This is private land, why don’t you go be a good steward somewhere else.
Jana Harris teaches creative writing at the U of Washington and at the Writer’s Workshop in Seattle. She is editor and founder of Switched-on Gutenberg. Most recent publications: You Haven’t Asked About My Wedding or What I Wore; Poems of Courtship on the American Frontier (U of Alaska Press), and the memoir, Horses Never Lie About Love (Simon & Schuster).
Caitlin Peck is an artist and illustrator in Philadelphia. She is interested in the simple and complex relationships we build with objects, others, and ourselves. You can find more of her work at and Instagram: @iamcaitlinpeck.