The morality of hunting has been a hot topic on the editorial pages of the Payson Roundup of late, thanks to a lively and spirited exchange of letters both pro and con.
Then, some fearless archer up and shoots a goose through the head with an arrow in Rumsey Park and a semi-peaceful editorial page skirmish evolves into a full-blown brouhaha almost overnight. Turns out that hunting within the town limits is not only legal (even in a park next to a school), but, according to our own law enforcement and Game and Fish officials, is a good way to keep the wild animal population down.
You also need to know that the back-room production area of this publication is a hotbed of animal pinkos, and that I, myself, tend to come down on the side of animals in human-critter confrontations more often than not. So if you are expecting a fair and unbiased rendering of the subject of hunting, you had best look elsewhere.
In fact, my favorite part of the Roundup story was the quotes from the lady who came across some bow and arrow hunters at Green Valley Park but wished to remain anonymous (probably because she didn't want the goose-shooting yahoo to track her down and shoot out her tires or worse).
"It does not seem very sporting at all," she said. "I mean these geese are so tame a guy could have snuck up on them wearing a Barney suit....
"If you're going to hunt in the park, you might as well just go and shoot a frozen chicken."
Judging from the tameness of the elk in the forest behind my house, I can't imagine shooting one of those magnificent animals to be a heck of a lot more challenging than the Green Valley Park ducks and geese. But our focus here is on birds.
The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes all hunting as cruel and barbaric, says that the bow and arrow is a "brutally inhumane weapon." The HSUS further states that all bird hunting -- a cruel and wasteful sport -- must be stopped. And that hunting waterfowl amounts to little more than "shooting at living targets."
As the front page story about the Green Valley Park mugging (or, should we say, goosing) was being laid out one recent Tuesday morning, our animal pinko production staff exchanged some thoughts on the subject -- thoughts that were not very flattering toward hunters, or hunting in general for that matter. That's when the Roundup's inimitable Jay Cooper and I hit on an idea that we think is a very fair way of leveling the playing field upon which hunters and hunted compete.
Right now, you would have to admit that the hunters have a significant advantage, what with their arsenal of guns, knives, arrows, tomahawks, hand grenades, bazookas, and all manner of sophisticated equipment and paraphernalia to lure, better see, or more easily track their victims.
Heck, some fishermen even use fancy sonar equipment developed for submarines to show them where the fish are. Takes the guesswork right out of the game, it seems to us.
Anyway, here's our thought. Since hunters consider hunting a sport, and since a sport by definition is played according to rules that allow either side a fair chance to win, we hereby ask the town of Payson to pass what we like to call the Cooper-Keyworth Barenaked Barehanded Hunting Ordinance.
It's really a very simple concept. The C-KBBHO (pronounced see-kibbo) would require man and beast to start out in their respective birthday suits with nary a thunderstick or mechanical device to aid them in their pursuit of one another.
Jay envisions the day when he looks off at the distant horizon and sees a naked elk run by with a naked man in hot pursuit. Then he envisions looking up a few minutes later to see the naked man running in the opposite direction pursued by the naked elk.
Should one ever catch the other, it's a barenaked rasslin' match to the finish. That way, when the photo of a 13-year-old boy appears in the Roundup proudly holding his first dead elk by the head (eyes crossed and tongue hanging out), it could really mean something.
I just hope the Roundup will accept photos submitted by the elk in cases where they prevail. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
(Editor's note: Given that hunting is a popular activity in the Rim Country, thoughtful, reasoned rebuttals of equal length to this column are welcome.)