SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, he has just installed an arcade game called "Big Buck Hunter Pro" in his department's cafeteria. Interior staffers can now take a few minutes break to aim toy rifles at a video screen and plink away at animated elk, antelope, caribou and deer.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)
SIMON: The bucks fall over dead but don't bleed. It's a game. Secretary Zinke tweeted on Tuesday - to highlight sportsman contributions to conservation, I installed "Big Buck Hunter" in the employee cafeteria. Get excited for hunting season. Secretary Zinke recently signed an order to expand hunting on public lands.
I do not hunt. That will not surprise almost anyone who listens to this program. I do not find hunting a sport as long as the deers and bears can't shoot back. But I know a few hunters and have done hunting stories. I've even seen "Big Buck Hunter" games in a few bars. I respect that hunters cherish the outdoors and want to keep wilderness undeveloped and wild.
I agree that people who eat cheeseburgers and holiday turkey shouldn't look haughtily down their noses at hunting. The chicken breast you may grill tonight wasn't born in that plastic wrap. Hunters at least lock eyes with what they eat. But every hunter I've asked wants people to understand that they're hunters, not killers.
Hunters observe rules. They respect their prey. Hunters are typically limited to shooting one or two deer a season depending on the state. They often crawl and scrape, hide and run, crouch, shiver and wait for hours just to take a single shot at a beautiful deer sprinting and miss.
As James Swan, the nature writer and hunter, says, there is a special fondness in our hearts for wild things, and a hunter must work through guilt feelings to be successful. The more one learns about wild animals, the more one develops a fondness for them. Hunters don't just aim, fire and fell deer like bowling pins.
I'm not as upset to see zombies, space invaders and super-villains burst into flame when they're zapped on screens. And maybe that's all the animated deer are to anone who fires away at them on "Big Buck Hunter," but it's Secretary Zinke who suggests this arcade game is some kind of tribute to hunters and conservation. You can also show respect for wildlife and wilderness by going into the woods and walking, looking and listening.
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