While watching Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, I came across a curious scene. Samson (Obviously what the Japanese intended despite the sub’s transliteration of Sanson) grows irritated with the three square meals of fish offered by the Nautilus every single day. His complaints influence Captain Nemo to put in for an island so that the crew can have some R&R. Samson, exuberant for the chance to obtain fresh meat, shoots a fawn. For which feat, he is applauded by the boat’s crew.
I had quite the opposite reaction to this: “Man, you shot a fawn? Couldn’t you have checked your impatience for meat long enough to have found an adult deer? How unsportsmanlike! Quam crudelis! How many people is that even going to feed?” The character which shared my distaste for the killing was none other than Nadia, a thoroughgoing vegetarian and against harming any form of life higher than a plant. She becomes so enraged that she leaves the camp for the whole evening.
This shared opinion reminds me of the curious fact that the people who love animals the most fall under two extremes: 1) the kind who would never harm one and 2) those who love hunting them. The notion of hunters as animal lovers might appear strange to some, but consider that their love for hunting and the outdoors places them in closer contact with a greater variety of animals than the average man experiences. Take the case of Theodore Roosevelt, probably America’s most famous hunter after Davy Crockett. Many of the hundreds of animals he brought down during his lifetime may be seen in the Smithsonian Museum; yet, his great fondness for animals of all sorts is testified to in both the myriads of hunting sketches he wrote and all his biographical writings.
American hunters have been painted in dark colors in many films. Yet, another kind of hunter, a person belonging to a tribal group, is shown as having a particular reverence for the animals they dispatch. (Who can forget the hero of The Gods Must be Crazy giving a lengthy apology to an animal he kills for the sake of his family?) Your typical American hunter is no different. Few will kill a very young animal, and many adhere to the idea that one should only kill an animal one intends to eat. (I even remember the story of one child who, having downed a crow with an air rifle, was then given the distasteful task of eating it by his father! A real case of eating crow!) Perhaps the most famous story about a hunter refusing to kill a young animal comes from Theodore Roosevelt himself, who was told by a hunting companion to kill a bear cub. Roosevelt found the idea unsportsmanlike and refused. A toymaker catching wind of this story is why Teddy bears now exist.