Trophy Hunter Columnist Pretends that he is Not a Trophy Hunter and Fails Miserably

Photo from ABC 7. Walter Palmer, dentist and convicted poacher.
Photo from ABC 7. Walter Palmer, dentist and convicted poacher.

When it comes to writing snuff pieces and being an apologist for trophy “hunters” and the kill everything every way possible Wisconsin hunting “culture” there is no better example than “outdoors” columnist Patrick Durkin. Durkin uses his latest column titled, “Definition of trophy hunter hard to quantify,” to spread a heaping load of propaganda and the blatant hypocrisy that he and his fellow killing apologists are well-known for.

Durkin starts his column by trying to minimize the poaching of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe and pretends that our anger toward the Minnesota dentist/poacher, Walter Palmer, is overblown and the product of “emotion.”

Now that a fortnight has passed since we heard a Minnesota dentist killed an African lion with a Christian name, maybe we’ve calmed enough to stow the hangman’s noose until knowing with certainty whether Walter Palmer is a poacher or hunter.

Christian name? So Durkin apparently thinks that people are outraged because Cecil was given a “Christian name?” No, people are outraged because an iconic lion was lured from a national park, shot with an arrow by a convicted American poacher and, left to suffer for 40 hours before finally being finished off by the great white hunter. Then he was beheaded and his body was left to rot. THAT is what we are angry about. Palmer IS a POACHER. A convicted one at that. 

Then Durkin goes on to pretend that he just can’t figure out what the definition of “trophy hunting” is while acting as though cave painting from our distant ancestors somehow equate to the modern snuff films and the “outdoors page” killing propaganda that he and so many like him peddle.

Then again, hunters can’t even agree on what defines “trophy,” let alone “trophy hunting.” For instance, about 10 years ago I addressed a wildlife conference, and was asked to defend photos of “trophy” deer on magazine covers. A speaker before me said he counted all the deer photos in several hunting magazines, and found the buck-to-doe ratio was about 50-1.

The room erupted in laughter, including mine. But when I spoke, I began with this question: “What’s the buck-to-doe ratio on cave paintings?” In other words, let’s not pretend modern hunters of European descent were the first humans to be fascinated by horns and antlers.

Durkin is doing what he does best here, deflecting. Those same people and the generations following them also participated in slavery, genocide, war, and numerous other disgusting crimes against humanity and nature. Does continuing those behaviors today make them acceptable Durkin?

What Durkin does next is trying to justify his own trophy fetish by trying to convince the reader that he “eats” everything he kill and is only displaying his ghoulish TROPHIES out of “tribute” for the animal.

But let’s make this personal. By my definition, I’m no trophy hunter. I’ve never wasted the meat of any critter I’ve killed, antlered or feathered. In fact, except for my first deer in 1973, I’ve butchered, wrapped and eaten/shared every deer, elk, pronghorn, goose or wild turkey I’ve killed.

Even so, the heads, hides, antlers and feathers from many of those same tasty, beautiful creatures hang in my home. They’re my trophies – my totems and memories – and I admire the animals’ beauty, and the taxidermist’s skills that preserved them. When I’m home alone some nights, I sit or slowly walk past them, inspecting each with pride. I recall when and where I spotted each trophy, what led to the shot, and the challenge of dragging or hauling them back to my truck.

Did I kill them for fun? No. I had fun hunting them, and I killed without apology; but I killed with respect, not delight. So, by that definition, I’m no trophy hunter.

Durkin just explained to the world that he is in fact a person that “hunts” for trophies but take his word that he isn’t a “trophy hunter.” Wow. Killed with not delight? Really? I seem to recall several snuff articles that Durkin has written showing him or family members posing with animals that they killed. But it’s about “conservation” right? So much “conservation” that you need to travel across the country to “conserve” wildlife by putting a bullet into it? But I shouldn’t expect anything other than convoluted “explanations” and apologist justifications from Mr. Durkin. Here are some of Durkin’s heroic snuff pieces to show you that he is all about “conservation” and “admiring” those “critters.”

Let’s start with Durkin’s heroic account of the great bunny hunt. With dogs of course:

Seconds later we heard shotgun blasts from Ron Sr.’s direction. “Got him,” he yelled. Just then Lee Roy shouted that a rabbit was heading my way. I never saw it, but the beagles had struck fresh scent and were howling their good news.

Just then I saw a grayish blur blast from a cedar hedge 30 yards away and run straight at me. I raised my 12-gauge shotgun, swung its sight beneath the rabbit’s oncoming nose and tapped the trigger. Snow exploded into the air at the pellets’ impact, but the rabbit kept charging, untouched.

Before I could shoot again it scooted past, dashed through the cedar hedge behind me, and vanished into the field beyond. Ron Jr., Indy and Nemo soon appeared, the beagles howling along the rabbit’s flight path.

When the dogs followed the scent into a patch of aspens, goldenrod and wild raspberries, Ron Jr. and I flanked its likely escape routes. We didn’t wait long. With Indy and Nemo closing in, the rabbit tried darting past Ron. He fired once, and we had our second bunny.

Yup, no “delight” here. Right, Durkin? How about your snuff piece about killing raccoons?

Polensky started hunting them in daylight several years ago after buying a video by David and Mike Sells of Iowa: “Cold Weather Daytime Raccoon Calling.” The Sells’ raccoon-calling expertise is well-known among trappers and fur-trade folks, but most varmint hunters overlook the tactic because they focus on fox and coyotes.

“Varmint?” Such “respect for the animal, right Durkin?

Polensky advised me to keep my camera poised to shoot as he did the same with his .22 Magnum lever-action rifle. He then pressed a button on his remote-control fob to activate the caller. Even though I’d heard the raccoon caterwaul three times before, I jumped at the sound.

For the first time that day, a raccoon burst from the hole. I snapped photos as Polensky fired and cleanly killed the coon, which plopped into the snow.

I was about to congratulate him, when a second raccoon popped from the hole and scrambled down the trunk. A third followed closely behind. They hit the ground running, and bounded through the snow toward Polensky. That was the last mistake they made.

With that, he slung his rifle over his shoulder, grabbed the largest coon with one hand and the smaller two with the other, and started walking toward his truck. About 100 yards later he paused and offered another piece of advice:

“Don’t forget to bring a little plastic sled this time of year,” he said. “These things get heavy, especially when you’re walking through a foot of snow.”

Such “respect” for these “varmints.” Right Durkin?

Then we have Mr. “I eat everything I kill” bragging about getting a wolf kill license in 2012. If he killed a wolf do you think he would eat it? I somehow doubt it, But remember Durkin isn’t a trophy hunter according to him.

Wisconsin’s second wolf season won’t open until Oct. 15, but this annual event is already joining our bobcat and mourning dove seasons as a nonissue in the outdoors.

Sure, wolf-protectionists bond more emotionally to their cause than even dove-protectionists, and seem more capable of sustaining outrage. But judging by the nearly 18 percent decline in applicants for this year’s 2,510 wolf-hunting permits, the protectionists won’t have as many adversaries to stoke their wrath.

Durkin likes to insult wildlife advocates by mockingly call us “protectionists” and even “worshipers.” In one of his usual nonsensical articles showing his hate for predators he again mockingly called us “worshipers.”

After all, who wants to explain the benefits of killing the cousins of horn-tooting seals to hostile hordes of their worshipers. 

Finally, Mr. “I’m not a trophy hunter” went out of his way to insult wildlife advocates fighting the legalized dog fighting in our woods between hounds and wolves and be an apologist for the sick practice.

No one’s surprised the state’s humane associations and various wolf advocates found the time and money to sue the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in hopes of stopping folks like me from hunting wolves this fall and winter.

Still, why not devote their talents to money-generating programs that sustain long-term wolf research and management, so critters other than lawyers benefit?

In the same column Durkin minimizes the legalized animal fighting between hounds and wolves:

Fascinating stuff, this lawsuit. The plaintiffs -– claiming to advocate for wolves and dogs alike -– contend the hunt must be stopped because the DNR didn’t impose enough restrictions to prevent “deadly animal fighting,” which violates Wisconsin’s “animal cruelty law.”

They cite the fact wolves can’t climb trees like a bear or raccoon to escape pursuers. Fair point, but what about a bear standing its ground, a raccoon drowning a hound, or a giant Canada goose wing-beating a Labrador? Why pretend wolf altercations are somehow unique and uglier?

So is a wolf being ripped apart by a pack of dogs is killing with “respect,” Durkin?

Durkin, with his most recent column, claims that he is not a trophy hunter according to his own definition. With his own words he calls his ghoulish preserved dead animal bodies TROPHIES. He muses about admiring these dead bodies with “pride” yet wildlife advocates are bad and are “worshipers” for caring about living wildlife according to him. In Durkin’s world I guess that I am a “worshiper.” I “worship” LIVING wildlife and not ghoulish dead TROPHIES that hang on a wall or are mounted on a stand. Not killing is the ultimate respect that one can give another being. How is hanging a dead body on a wall a sign of “respect?”

You are not fooling anyone Durkin. You ARE a trophy hunter and your articles that insult wildlife advocates and attempt to glamorize the recreational killing of “critters” and “varmints” show exactly what you are in addition to that.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. idaursine says:

    My fondest wish is that he will become personal non grata on the entire continent of Africa. If we in the US will do nothing about his crime, and for that matter don’t even see it as a crime, then I’m glad another country will, and see it as the affront to their people and wildlife that it is. It’s just so disappointing to me and embarrassing that the US sees wildlife as nothing. I am very happy that the rest of the world does not agree.

  2. idaursine says:

    that should read ‘persona non grata’, sorry!

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