Canned contest hunts terrible idea
By Eric Sharp
Detroit Free Press
H.L. Mencken told us, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." David Farbman apparently thinks that also applies to American hunters.
Farbman, a Detroit-area real estate executive, has come up with one of the worst ideas I’ve heard – a World Hunting Association that will stage competitive events similar to the B.A.S.S. and FLW fishing tournaments, complete with commercial sponsorship and TV coverage.
Even worse, Farbman says his events will feature non-lethal hunting at high-fence game preserves, where the animals will be stuck with tranquilizer darts from guns and bows and revived later.
One of the constant critical drumbeats from anti-hunting groups is that we hunters use animals merely as living targets. The best counter to that argument is that we eat what we kill, and what we do is no different, and less cruel, than the way slaughterhouses treat animals that non-hunters eat.
Now Farbman wants to show hunters knocking Bambi down with tranquilizer darts and reviving him so he can be shot again. You couldn’t hand the animal-rights activists stronger propaganda. Farbman proposes really using deer merely as living targets.
That’s not to say Farbman’s show wouldn’t draw an audience. In a nation where more people are concerned about who’s ahead on American Idol than what’s going on in Iraq, I’m sure plenty would watch, if only for the novelty. But I don’t think the people Farbman wants to reach would be among them.
Farbman talks in grandiose terms and says his hunting competitions eventually will include places like New Zealand, South Africa and Russia, although he’s vague on exactly where and when. He plans to hold the first events in October and November at Lost Arrow Ranch near Gladwin, where pre-selected hunter-cameraman teams will try to tranquilize the highest-scoring whitetail buck (using both guns and bows).
Farbman said in a telephone interview the purse for each event is about $300,000, and while he insists that he has the capitalization for them, he’s counting on increased sponsorship for financial support.
However, while he talks about eventually drawing "mainstream" advertisers from outside the hunting industry, I don’t see Budweiser, Ford or the Geico gecko signing up for a program that treats deer like carnival kewpie dolls.
The fact that these events are being conducted behind fences should be enough to turn off a sizable number of hunters who think a deer ranch is a perversion of the concept of fair chase.
After stories about Farbman’s plans ran in newspapers last week, I received 14 e-mails and telephone calls from people who identified themselves as hunters. Every one thought Farbman’s scheme was a terrible idea that would only help anti-hunters. Farbman replied that 90 percent of the responses to his Web site were favorable.
Farbman says he is a passionate bow hunter, and after listening to him I don’t doubt that. But he jumped into this without doing enough research, although I suppose the idea is a natural, if wretchedly excessive, progression from the success of B.A.S.S.
The B.A.S.S. professional bass tournament trail made its owners rich, turned unknown anglers into minor celebrities and spawned a host of copycat televised fishing circuits.
But when you watch those tournament shows and other fishing and hunting programs, you realize they’re glorified infomercials, less about fishing than about tackle companies, big outdoor retailers and boat and engine manufacturers marketing their products.
Wal-Mart sponsors the FLW Outdoors fishing tournaments only because Wal-Mart sells lots of fishing tackle. B.A.S.S. was bought a few years ago by ESPN-TV, not because the ESPN execs love fishing but because they saw a chance to sell advertising time to companies that make fishing gear, boats and motors.
I think that narrow, commercial focus explains why despite a vastly increased presence on television, fishing has hardly grown in the last decade, and hunting numbers have declined.
I hope many hunters will tell Farbman that his is not a good idea. And I also suspect that proposing to use deer as living targets will run him afoul of animal cruelty laws.
We hunters know that Elmer Fudd is a cartoon character whose antics don’t bear any resemblance to real hunting. And Bambi bears little resemblance to real deer. Farbman needs to figure out that we don’t need one of our own making it easier for the opposition to convince non-hunters that those cartoons reflect reality.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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