People call me paranoid, but this time, babysitting but technically alone, I”m definitely being watched. Welcome to taxidermy heaven: In a two-story room roughly the size of a college apartment, I can”t even count of the number of animals covering the walls and balconies. To my right, a chair made out of multiple pairs of antlers. There”s a bear on the floor, another bear in the loft there are birds I cannot identify, exotic hairy heads from countries I probably cannot identify. Ice tongs capped off with hooves. Is that a beaver peering over the fireplace mantle, bird playfully glued into his mouth? Nope, it”s a wolverine. Go Blue.

Paul Wong
Emily Achenbaum<br><br>Diamond in the Rough

So some people like to hunt.

The first time I entered this room a year ago, it took my breath away. Let”s not forget that “impressive” is not inherently a compliment it simply means an impression was made. The feeling I was overwhelmed by was one of waste. The kids, digging into fur pelts to find the remote, do not pay attention. I think I have grown accustomed to the room until I trip over a bear paw and am reminded it is out of whack. The room radiates something wrong. As a friend commented, “It”s a cemetery.”

Who am I to talk? I wear leather shoes but not leather pants or coats I eat fish but not things with fur or wings. I ride horses and keep dogs as pets. It is interesting that if one is not an extremist, their view is somehow undermined. The voice is deemed hypocritical by not being fanatic. I am not an animal-rights fanatic. Can a woman wearing mascara talk about feminism? Is everything really so one-sided? I don”t need to wear a PETA team jersey to say hunting as “sport” is disgusting and that those who hunt for sport are horrendously misguided and cruel people.

Unless you are reading this in the African wilderness or lord-knows-where Kentucky, there is no need for you to hunt. Animal products food, clothes, SUV interiors are brought to us by someone else in the form of Kroger and Calvin Klein. We do not need to fend for ourselves. Therefore, hunting becomes “sport.” “Sport” implies a couple of things to me: That it requires skill, is competitive, and fun. Flirting is a sport. Basketball is a sport. Hunting is not, because it fails on all three counts.

Patronizing eyebrows raise and smirk, “hunting takes a lot of skill,” as if that means anything significant. I would like to point out that walking in stilettos is a skill. Add some icy patches, a boyfriend that walks really fast and three Rolling Rocks and it”s almost impossible to carry off unless you are skilled. Girls start practicing at age 6, raiding mom”s closet and dressing up. Models get taught how to walk. But no one expects a badge for being able to do it just because it took effort and talent to learn how. And things that require skill don”t rest on a higher plane than an undevelopable ability like, oh, giving birth, because the latter doesn”t require practice.

Hunting is not competitive. As I write this column, a moose is hovering above me. His massive neck is firmly attached to a wooden plaque. Now, it”s not really a sport unless there”s a chance either guy could win. With a nose the size of my skull and eyes the size of my fist, the moose carcass could easily kill me if there was an unfortunate tremor that would dislodge him from the wall and send him careening toward my head. A moose could kill me if he was running and I didn”t get out of the way in time a moose could kill me if he was walking and I couldn”t get my car out of the way in time. The only way I could kill the moose is with a gun. Add that I”m wearing camouflage and I”ve destroyed parts of his habitat so he”s easier to find. And that I”m at a gamepark where he”s fenced in. Oh and that the moose doesn”t get to shoot back.

Sounds like playing Monopoly with my sister when she would rob the bank while I was up getting a snack. Why do hunters look so triumphant in photos? How hard was that really? And what have you really won? Did you really “dominate” something if you cheated?

This leaves us with fun. I don”t know why hunting is fun, but different folks, different strokes, etc. Running, studying a lot and waking up early are things I abhor and other people find fun, but at least the fit, the studious and the bright-eyed are not getting off on watching something bleed to death. I think it is interesting that hunters who witness a fatal accident often stop hunting fishermen who accidentally cast a hook into their own back develop a disinterest in their “sport.” I guess it”s not fun when they glimpse, even for a second, at the unnecessary pain they cause the waste. I have yet to hear an intelligent argument supporting this non-sport, and I think there”s a reason for that.

Emily Achenbaum”s column runs every other Monday. Give her feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via email at emilylsa@umich.edu.

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