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Outdoors Outpost
Olive and Let Olive
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 • Posted December 12, 2013

The Christmas season is a time of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Or so I’ve been told. I guess women are on their own, but that’s not my fault. I didn’t make up the peace on earth thing, although I understand AlGore has made a pretty convincing claim.

You would think, then, that we would be able to get along with one another at this time of year. You would be wrong. People can’t get along, because they’re people, and people disagree on some pretty basic issues. And I’m not talking about Miley Cyrus. Pretty much everybody over age 18 agrees on that subject.

Because of all the discord, I’m going out on a limb here, in the spirit of the season, with a statement most of my readers probably never expected to hear from me. This may have been brought on by all the Christmas music I hear this time of year, or it may be a mellowness that comes with age. It may be the stale hot dog I had for supper last night. I have no idea. But I’m extending an olive branch in the hope of a better understanding of my fellowman. And fellowwoman, I guess.

I agree with the peta folks about some things. Really. Matter of fact, if peta were to stage a protest against certain groups, I might be inclined to join them. Probably not, since I hate crowds, but you never know.

There are two main things I agree with peta on (not that I intend to start capitalizing them, of course). These two things are zoos and circuses. I believe animals in zoos and circuses are, more often than not, miserable. And that’s a bad thing, anytime of the year.

I have nothing good, whatever, to say about circuses. Well, except the clowns are OK. And the trapeze stuff. The animals shouldn’t be there, though. I could be wrong, but it seems to me there’s no way to keep circus animals locked in cages small enough to haul them around from place to place and still make them happy, or even comfortable. The people who operate circuses are no better off, and seem just as miserable as the animals, but at least the people have a choice. If I were in charge, I’d outlaw circus animal captivity, pronto.

Not all zoos are really bad, though. There’s one at Tyler where the animals hardly seem to realize they’re caught. Their living areas are vast, open, and nice, and are designed to pretty well resemble the animal’s native habitat. So I don’t have a problem with zoos like that.

In other zoos, the animals are kept in fairly small cages, and I agree with peta that such confinement is wrong. The animals are often filthy and despondent. It’s depressing to see them like that, and I figure if someone wants to see a zebra, or a lion, or a giraffe, they should go to Australia, where those animals live. Or watch TV.

The point here is that peta and I are in agreement that animals should never be mistreated for pleasure, or even for educational purposes. The place where we part company, totally, is in the matter of what defines mistreatment. I would contend that killing animals by hunting them in fair chase is not mistreatment. My peta friends would disagree. They’re mistaken.

Hunting not only pays the bills for wildlife conservation, habitat maintenance, and other programs that benefit animals, it’s also healthy for the critters in and of itself. Plus, if God hadn’t intended us to hunt, He wouldn’t’ve made it so much fun.

I imagine hunting lions in Africa is a blast, although I’ve never done it. Melissa Bachman has, though. Melissa is a ‘celebrity hunter.’ I applied for that job, but didn’t get it. Melissa went to Africa recently, got a permit from the government, and legally shot a huge lion. She put a picture of it on her website, and immediately disappeared under a wave of hate mail.

Olivia Opre gets mail from the same people. Olivia is the host of ‘Extreme Huntress,’ which is a television show. She gets letters that say ‘Drown in your own blood,’ and ‘Your sons should die slow painful deaths.’ The people who write these letters hold life in high regard, and deplore killing. Uh, or something.

Women who hunt, and advertise it publically, seem to get more hate mail than men, for some reason. I guess men are expected to be more blood-thirsty, and women are supposed to be more nurturing. That’s stereotyping, but there you go.

Hunting may shortly be more popular, however. TIME magazine recently ran a cover story called ‘America’s Pest Problem: It’s Time to Cull the Herd.’ The article says hunting is about to make a comeback, although I wasn’t aware it had left.

I have an idea that might work, especially during this time of peace and goodwill – if you like to hunt, hunt, and if you don’t, don’t. The animals will be healthier, and everyone gets what they want.

My olive branch will probably come back with no olives. And no leaves. Aimed swiftly at my caboose.

Merry Christmas, anyway. And pass the venison . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never eats olives. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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