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Telegraph Creek
Telegraph Creek

Personal Standards

Terry Wieland

A few weeks back, one of the big hunting conservation groups sent out a press release announcing a “strategic partnership” (whatever that is) to promote hunting ethics among the young hunters of today. Exactly how the “strategic partners” planned to do that I’m not sure, beyond vague mention of “outreach.” What I do know is that, most of the time, whenever I suggest writing about hunting ethics, editors roll their eyes and insist their readers don’t want to hear about it.

This is understandable. Long ago, I stopped going to church for much the same reason. No one I’ve ever met enjoys being preached at. Any editor who can recognize preaching and forestall it gets my vote, and should get yours as well.

However, for some years I’ve been exploring the whole question of hunting ethics (mostly in the privacy of my own home) simply because hunting is what I now have in place of church, and when you are that dedicated to anything, I believe you should learn as much about it as you can. Sort of like reading the Bible.

Before going any further let me just say, in my opinion, a hunter can learn all that needs to be known about the practical aspects of hunting ethics by reading Robert Ruark’s The Old Man and the Boy and José Ortega’s Meditations on Hunting. Toss in Ruark’s Horn of the Hunter, and you are pretty much covered. And, you’ll have had some great reading.

In my case, repeated readings of all of the above led me into an almost academic pursuit of some answers, and I found myself going all the way back to classical Greek. The word “ethics” does not roll easily off a tongue not schooled in philology, and if you have to go and look up the meaning of “philology,” don’t feel bad. So did I.

To save readers the trouble, philology is the study of ancient literary texts and the determination of their meaning. Hence the connection between philology and ethics, which is derived from the ancient Greek “Ethiks,” and dates back to a text by Aristotle. In the simplest of terms, it’s the science of right and wrong.

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November - December 2017