Carpenter, David. 2010. A Hunter’s Confession. Vancouver, B.C.: D. and M. Publishers Inc.
A Hunter’s Confession is a memoir and an essay on the morality and meaning of hunting. Carpenter brings his superb prose and extensive hunting experience together in a book that openly discusses the moral dilemmas of a hunter. No matter where you are on the position of animal-rights and the role of the consumptive use of wildlife, readers will find much to ponder.
Carpenter explains how his attitude toward hunting has changed as he’s gotten older. He thoughtfully explains how he transitioned from being a body-count hunter (one who hunted to fill the bag-limit) to one who entered wild places to experience a more spiritual interaction with nature. He decries what he sees as the overemphasis on trophy and high animal counts in much hunting literature and hunting lore. He is concerned with the protection of open space and wildlands and wonders whether hunting is playing a role in the degradation and lack of respect for nature. Yet, Carpenter does not adopt a simplistic condemnation of hunting. He knows that hunting has been a force of good for protecting wildlife and open spaces. He also sees immense value from the hunting practices and philosophy of the Native Americans. In this regard, the author is somewhat conflicted, and honestly so, about hunting and its role both for the hunter and the broader society.
I commend the author for his emotional transparency and taking on the difficult questions such as bloodlust, and environmental degradation. Too often the socio-relational and moral elements of hunting are not considered in a thoughtful way. I just wish the author provided an answer to the dilemmas and problems he reveals.
On the negative side, Carpenter fails to provide proper distinctions. He neglected to distinguish between regulated hunting and poaching when he spoke of the impact hunting has had on wildlife populations. Additionally, he falls victim to the old canard that dominionism is somehow opposed to the respect for nature view and has caused the domination of the environment. His simplistic and inaccurate understanding of Christian teaching on humanity’s role as manager of the environment is unfortunate but a common one among non-Christians.
Nevertheless, his question, “Why do you hunt?” should be answered by all hunters (trappers) and those who use wildlife in a consumptive manner. Likewise, his point is well made when he asks, “Are you hunting to fill a void in your life or are you hunting to connect to nature in a deeper way than just simply observing?” I find these questions poignant. It is because Carpenter asks these questions in such a powerful way that I recommend this book for those interested in exploring these questions. I would simply suggest that these questions should be asked to non-hunters as well as all activities in nature are subject to the selfishness and egoism rampant in the human heart.
The book is available at Amazon.com for 14.00. A number of used copies are available also for less than 3.00.
About the Author
Stephen M Vantassel http://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com specializes in wildlife damage management and has a particular interest in environmental ethics.