On brave Americans and goats of darkness

Dear Bryan,

I do apologise. The world is full of inconsequential Bryans and I am sure the last thing a man of your stature would want is to be confused with the multitude of Bryans who lack the courage to shoot a wild mountain goat. I mean no disrespect. There is only one Bryan Kinsel Harlan in this world. Or in Texas, at least. Dallas, certainly.

I saw your video on social media and was blown away. Not in the same way your goat was blown away, obviously. But watching you scrambling through the rocky terrain of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit region with only a dozen or so heavily armed guides as backup, I felt my loins stir on more than one occasion. And when you raised your rifle and shot that goat, well, it was all I could do not to have an incident in my pants. I can’t begin to imagine how aroused you must get watching an animal through your telescopic sights, knowing it only has seconds left to live.

High-fiving the guides after pulling the trigger was a nice gesture. Americans all too often forget to give credit to the locals who help them hunt goats or Islamic insurgents or whatever happens to be on the list of things to kill that day.

I believe you paid a record price of $110 000 dollars to shoot your goat. You must be a very wealthy man. In my country, that kind of money gets you two cabinet ministers and the CEO of one of our smaller parastatals.

Sadly, not everyone is impressed. There are some people who think what you did is barbaric and cruel. I am outraged at their outrage. I can’t believe that the animal huggers at PETA not only condemned the hunt but went so far as to describe goats as “gentle individuals, not trophies”.

I am sure you know what it’s like to have a goat come on you … I beg your pardon. Come at you. They won’t hesitate to batter you mercilessly until you are forced to run away with your pants around your ankles. Or so I have heard.

And who can forget that the devil himself is portrayed as a goat? You are obviously aware that GOAT is an acronym for Greatest of All Time. How dare they usurp the title reserved for Jesus. This godless arrogance will not stand. I wouldn’t be surprised if this hunt wasn’t part of your broader Christian mission to punish Satan. Good for you. I, for one, will sleep more soundly tonight knowing there is one less evil, cloven-hoofed beast out there.

I read that a gang of Pakistanis are also up in arms. Ha! If only. More arms would mean fewer depraved ungulates to lead our children astray. After seeing pictures of you and your dead goat, these cabbage-eating extremists called for a ban on hunting. Sure, this goat is their country’s national animal, but so what? Ours is the springbok and we can’t get their flesh down our throats, their heads on our walls or their skins on our floors quick enough.

Okay, so there are fewer than six thousand Astor markhors left in the world. But still. Goats. Right? To encourage more Americans to trophy hunt, your Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified them as threatened rather than endangered. Damn right, they’re threatened. By real men like you.

I thought it was very decent of you to give the local press an interview. After all, it’s a well-known fact that journalists are closely related to goats as a result of spending time in close proximity to one another on Noah’s ark and neither can be trusted.

A Pakistani newspaper quoted you as saying, “It was an easy and close shot and I am pleased to take this trophy.” This makes it sound like the goat was still woozy from the anaesthetic when you walked up and put a bullet into the back of his head.

You were obviously misquoted and I hope you are taking legal action. I have no doubt that your original quote was more along the lines of, “The battle between this vicious creature and me, a battle between good and evil, was long and brutal and I knew only one of us would get out of there alive.”

No, wait. What am I talking about? I saw the video. Your big boy goat was sitting next to a much younger goat. His wife? His lover? His child? Who knows. More importantly, who cares. Well, I suppose the other goat might still be wondering why her companion suddenly jumped up, thrashed about and then died in a pool of blood. Still, that’s not your problem. It’s not like she can sue you for loss of income.

At the end of your video, you encourage Americans to visit Pakistan. You say Mexico is more dangerous than Pakistan. Bloody Mexicans. Build that wall. I’m with you on this. Texans especially should check out northern Waziristan. The local Taliban guides will be happy to help out. Just watch out for the drones. You should be okay, though. They’re hunting Muslims, not red-blooded patriots like yourself.

MAGA! (May All Goats be Assassinated).

Getting the fox to guard the hen house

The Trump campaign has pledged to nominate a hunter to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, aggressively fight lawsuits by anti-hunting groups and control predators like wolves.

Guess who is top of the list. That’s right. None other than Donald Junior. Here’s a letter I wrote to Trump’s delightful boys not too long ago.

Hey boys!

Just wanted to congratulate you on your successful hunting trip to Zimbabwe. Our papers have been full of pictures of you guys holding up dead leopards in a pink mist of vapourised waterbuck. You’re real heroes in these parts, let me tell you. There has been a bit of criticism, but it’s coming mainly from white bunny-hugging do-gooders who think wild animals are there to be photographed instead of destroyed like the vermin they are.

Bloody liberals.

I see you managed to bag three of the Big Five. Well done! But what stopped you from going for a full house? You got the buffalo, elephant and leopard, but missed the rhino and lion. And you call yourselves Trumps? Just kidding. I’m sure it’s not your fault. I bet the organisers of the hunt failed to tether them securely and they escaped before you could drive up and shoot them in the face.

Donald Junior, I particularly enjoyed the picture of you holding an elephant’s tail in one hand and a knife in the other. You can even see the legs of the elephant lying on the ground to prove that you got it off the animal and not from a curio shop. I bet you also cut off its trunk and poked it through your zipper and pretended you had a giant willy. I certainly would have.

I liked the shot of you guys posing next to a crocodile strung up from a tree. It reminded me of those old pictures from your Deep South. Now that the darkies are off-limits, croc-lynching could be the next big thing in Alabama. Wanna be partners? You gun ’em down, I string ’em up.

By the way, did you know that we also have a Small Five that are tremendous fun to kill? Meerkats are my best. If you’re quick, you can run up and kick them before they bolt for cover. Your brother, Eric, could have waited in an imaginary end zone to catch the flying ‘kat. Touchdown! American football, Africa style. What’s not to love?

Another of my favourites is the tortoise. Hunting tortoises is usually done when you have a hangover. I’m sure you had lots of those on your trip because the only way to survive in Africa is to drink heavily while firing blindly into the night.

So what you do is set up your chair within shouting distance of a reliable servant – you don’t want to run out of Bloody Marys – and wait for a tortoise to come along. Put your foot on his back to stop him from getting away. This is where it gets tricky. He will have retracted himself, making a clean head shot impossible. Don’t shoot him in the shell if you plan on using him as a paper-weight. They shatter easily. Rather take a leaf out of your father’s book. Cut off his lights and water and starve him out.

You said the local villagers were overjoyed at getting the meat from your hunt. And why wouldn’t they be? Leopard carpaccio garnished with a sprinkling of civet cat and drizzled with crocodile jus doesn’t appear on the menu in the Matetsi area all that often.

When I read that the hunt organisers were called Hunting Legends, I thought they were offering legends like President Robert Mugabe. Now there’s a trophy you should have on your wall. But I suppose he would put up too much of a fight. Not that you lads aren’t bok for a fight. Far from it. A kudu is a hell of an adversary. You were just fortunate to come across one that was drugged. To be honest, a lot of the game in southern Africa is on drugs these days. They also lack any real work ethic and spend most of the day sleeping. Smelly freeloaders. No wonder we kill them.

You were also lucky to have survived shooting a tusker. Many elephants, particularly in Zimbabwe, are known to explode without warning and, even from a distance of 300 metres, you could easily have lost a leg. Or worse, had your hair messed up. Gel is hard to come by in the bush.

I’m not much of a hunter myself, but I think I know why you boys enjoy it. For a start, Eric is a girl’s name and he has a lot to prove. And your name is Donald Junior, and yet it is Eric who looks more like your father. No wonder you’re angry.

You said the money you paid for the hunt will be used to fund nature conservation in Zimbabwe. I presume by “fund nature conservation” you mean “arm Zanu-PF veterans”. That’s okay. We understand code in these parts. No names, no pack-drill. Whatever the hell that means.

My wife says you’re both latent homosexuals. But as my Uncle Pervy used to say, “Better latent than never.” Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that I beat her soundly for her insolence.

I must say, though, Eric, you do look pretty damn sexy with that leopard draped over your shoulders. It brings out your eyes. And Donald Junior, seeing you straddling that dead buffalo makes doggie style seem positively Christian.

Y’all come back again, ya hear!

Trump-with-elephant-tail-500x580

Another bunch of big hunts

We’re coming to that time of year when everyone should spare a thought for the animals.

With the holidays approaching, the roads will soon be jammed with people rushing to their destinations. Many of you will be too busy to think about which animals you’re going to eat and how you intend cooking them. Should you boil, bake, braai, grill, steam or fry? There are no easy answers.

Meanwhile, a group met at a Polokwane resort last week to think deeply about animals. You might not have read much about it. That’s because journalists were thin on the ground at the 14th African Wildlife Consultative Conference. And not, as you might think, because there was no open bar. They simply weren’t allowed in.

The conference, organised by our very own department of environmental affairs, is the creation of something called Safari Club International, an American outfit made up of hunters. Their main mission is to safeguard the freedom to hunt. They are like the National Rifle Association except they demand the right to shoot bears in the arms or wherever the hell they wish. They are also very proud of their anti-poaching stance. They would be, though. Too much poaching and there’d be nothing left for their own members to kill.

Their headquarters are in Tucson, Arizona, a proudly jingoistic state full of heavily armed rednecks and wife-beaters. In other words, the perfect base for Safari Club International.

So what we’re doing, essentially, is putting the welfare of our wildlife in the hands of hunters. A senior SCI member even helped the department moderate the sessions. This is a bit like the head of a paedophile ring offering child care facilities at his office.

SCI, incidentally, was founded by the bravest man on four wheels. At great personal risk to himself, CJ McElroy spent many years killing thousands of animals around the world, often at distances of only two or three hundred metres.

Trickyshunt

But it’s not just animals SCI is interested in. They also care about people. For instance, a splinter group called Sportsmen Against Hunger distributes the meat from their kills to food banks through the network of SCI chapters.

“Oh, man. Armadillo again? We had armadillo yesterday.”

“Shut up and eat your meat. You goddamn Vietnam vets are spoilt rotten.”

“Yeah, rotten like this …”

“BANG!”

“Hey, man. You killed Kenny.”

Then there’s the Sensory Safari programme that allows sight-impaired people to get a “visual” perspective of what animals are like by feeling their skins, skulls, horns and pretty much anything with a head big enough to be cut off and stuck on a wall. At some point, they are going to get turned on by all that fondling and will want to go out and kill something of their own. Blind hunters. Now that’s my idea of sport.

There’s also the Disabled Hunter programme where cripples get to kill stuff. And why not? Just because you’re missing a leg or arm or eye after someone shot you in Afghanistan or the local supermarket doesn’t mean you can’t do the same to something else. I bet even Steven Hawking would sign up if he could shoot a wildebeest with a twitch of his eye.

But wait. It gets better. The SafariWish programme is designed to give children with life-threatening illnesses a chance to go hunting. Because what kid dying of leukemia wouldn’t want to blow an antelope’s brains out before he died?

As far as I can make out there are no special hunting programmes for black, lesbian dwarves. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time, though.

When your government organises a wildlife conference and invites hunters but excludes the media, environmentalists, conservationists and non-governmental organisations, you start to sense something might not be quite right.

Oh, well. There’s so much of not-quite-right in this country that it’s just going to have to get in the queue of stuff we really should do something about. Well, not us, obviously. But someone needs to do something about whatever. I’ll get another beer.

trophy

KILLER: Ben Trovato bagged himself a fine trophy at the recent Safari Club International meeting for hunters.