Vail Daily letter: The shot not taken
Cecil brings to my historical mind the nation of Rhodesia, the namesake of Cecil Rhodes, which is now Zimbabwe. That was yesterday, but now I think of Cecil the regal, feral and magnificent male lion recently taken in Zimbabwe by an American dentist (“hunter”) for reasons known only to him, but incomprehensible to me.
The primal instinct of the hunt was for the purpose of securing the survival of our species in primordial times; this hunter did not kill as a result of that instinct, since his survival depended more on his dental practice than the meat of a lion. Rather, the hunt for a trophy from a different and more dangerous species I believe was the prime motivator for this hunter. Trophy hunting just may be a reflection of a man’s lack of self-esteem and insecurity regarding his own worth as a “man.” And in this, I give the hunter the benefit of the doubt as his reason for the kill. It would be a character aberration to accredit him with a simple proclivity to kill for killing sake alone.
This fall the Western Slope of Colorado will be besieged by a legion of men seeking trophies, not all but most. Our hunting seasons bring prosperity and revenues to our state as a whole, but let’s call it for what it is — it caters to mankind’s crass and unseemly character — something akin to selling fetus parts through the social legislation of “Planned Parenthood.” I would not deny the choice of my fellow man to engage in the hunt, since it is a part of our American heritage and identity, but would it not be more “manly” to have had the chance for the kill, but to refrain from doing so thereby allowing the prey to walk away from the encounter as well as the predator?
A photograph of Cecil would have been so much more palatable and “human” for the dentist to hang in his trophy room, rather than the head of a beautiful and threatened thing of the wild. This particular hunter may have revisited his primitive instincts in killing Cecil, but he forfeited a part of his actual manhood in doing so. Next time take the shot with a camera so all can see what is alive and thriving in the wild in the stead of a trophy hanging on someone’s wall in Minnesota. I would admonish those hunters who visit our state this fall to remember that they are first and foremost gentlemen engaging in an ancient killing endeavor, and the shot not taken is more appreciated by those who conserve than the sight of horns and meat in the back of a pickup heading for the border.