Earth’s seas are not the limitless bounty shark-finners and longliners would have us believe, yet hunting many species to the brink of extinction seems to be an ongoing practice. Being a conservationist at heart, if I’m not going to eat or mount something I reel in, I let it go. Of course, even as a predominantly catch-and-release angler, I often pose for a quick picture with a fish before releasing it. It preserves the memories and the moment. Combining sensible harvesting with bag limits and stocking efforts is the key to maintaining the ecology of our oceans.

That said, why should the land be any different? So many species are nearing the point of no return due to mankind’s greed and ignorance, shouldn’t we do something before it’s too late? Granted, practicing catch-and-release would be a bit more difficult when hunting terrestrial predators like a tiger or bear, requiring more technology, per se, but we have the tech and it can easily be done. I would love to see the day when hunting big game is done with tranquilizers instead of bullets. Why?

1- Endangered species won’t be killed off needlessly.
2- Safari hunts are pricey, sometimes a thousand dollars a day, and high-tech ones would be as well. Money from them could go toward replenishing and protecting said species, whether it be additional security, captive breeding programs, formation of additional preserves, or whatever else can be done.
3- You’d have to get a lot closer to take your shot, making the stalk more challenging and scary. But that’s half the accomplishment and thrill – “conquering nature”, right?
4- Posing for a photo with a 500 lb lion, knowing it’s not dead and worrying if it’s going to come to unexpectedly would stir anyone’s sweetbreads. It would also make that photo or video shot after a successful hunt a thousand times more memorable. Imagine feeling its steely muscles and claws or smelling its horrid breath while on camera?
5- With taxidermy as advanced as it is now, ANY animal can be replicated without the need for its skin or teeth, and you would never be able to tell the difference. Don’t believe me? Look at the “stuffed” fish at the end of this post. It’s a complete replica, crafted by a master taxidermist. Nowadays they can cast eyes, teeth, fur, and even tongues that look so real it will blow your mind. And unlike the real thing, it won’t warp, crack or rot over time.
6- Last but not least, we’d be doing the right thing for nature, evolution, and the planet, and as an added bonus, those annoying PETA types, with their leather sneakers and belts, wouldn’t know what to do.

What do you think?

-Max Hawthorne


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