2007 - 2021

Sheep Hunter

The furore over the Americans hunting on Islay shines a useful light on this bizarre and macabre activity. But the more significant pair in this picture (right) are not the unfortunate Larysa and Jason but the figures on the left.

We are used to seeing hunter pics shared and condemned on social media from Africa, where the unspoken thought is: “What sort of downtrodden place would allow people to come over and blast into their wildlife?”

Well folks, that’s us.

Of course we should condemn the individuals posing with their trophies, but we should also understand that that is the norm for whole swathes of privately owned land and estates set aside for deer hunting, hare culling, and grouse moor management  [see also ‘Disastrous hare-culling shows big landowners are irresponsible custodians of Scotland.’

Hunting is the inevitable outcome of our distorted patterns of land ownership. Hunting is about class and power, not just bad Americans. Hunting is not some anathema to Scotland, something alien to ‘Scottish values’  – it is at the heart of our rural economy that uses the highlands as a play park and revels in its artificial wilderness.

We’re now told that the Scottish Government is to review ‘culling laws’, but this isn’t really the right focus at all. What we need to review is who owns the land and what they make money from and what a disastrous impact it has on our housing, employment and environment.

Hunting Culture

The whole hunting industry is a combination of a weird culture of male impotence and advanced retro imperialism. The whiff of slightly desperate over-compensation from men in these hunting photos is pretty clear but as Theroux also pointed out about ‘Cecil the Lion’ – it doesn’t really work out as a sign of great bravery and manliness :

“I think the idea is that you are pitting yourself against a fearsome creature, armed only with a hand-powered and relatively primitive weapon. But this is pretty bogus, since the only bow-hunter who faces a lion is going to have men with guns, loaded and cocked, standing either side of him in case something goes wrong.”

I’m not sure if Larysa had such back-up as she bravely faced down the sheep, one can only speculate.

There’s certainly a sexual element to Larysa’s tweets: “There’s nothing sexier than someone bringing home the meat” she squeals in one.

Looking at the flood of images of the American hunters online, you can’t help also thinking that this is an expression of America’s culture of gun violence being exported around the world, but its also about our relationship with nature.

Time reports: “The problem does not stop with lions. Poachers killed between 15 and 20 rhinos in the country in 2014, 60 rhinos in 2013 and 84 (the peak) in 2008. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 60% of the rhino population in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was killed between 2003 and 2005″ (Prepare to get angrier).

The freak culture of hunting is a celebration of a world that is out of control, a hyper-commercialised blood-lust that thrives on destroying the natural.



Comments (36)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. john Wakenshaw says:

    How do you hunt a sheep anytime I am in the country they tend to give you a quick look then get on with chewing the cud ! ” Bringing home the meat ” try the supermarket lady !

  2. Torry Joe says:

    These immoral plebs make me sick! The feeling of Godlike power when killing some poor animal for fun (even a hare or a bloody goat), then posing for a ‘ look at me, ain’t I brave’ photoshot is disgustingly pathetic. Shame on everyone involved
    Laws must be changed and strictly implemented ASAP.

  3. Willie says:

    Bottom line is that people like this piece of shit like to kill and would no doubt kill humans too given half a chance.

    Of course as this article brings out, Scotland is an absolute playground for the wealthy wishing to kill.

    Good on Luthansa for banning the transportation of hunting rifles and firearms on their planes.

    And shame on the Scottish Government who actually intervened last year on behalf of shooters to overturn an earlier Luthansa ban.

    No doubt they will do the same again and lobby on the shooters behalf?

    1. Jo says:

      Oh I don’t think they would be willing to take on another person. Another person could think, could take steps to to mount a defence, could shoot back maybe. The “hunters” wouldn’t risk that.

      No, they’re happier taking pot shots at defenceless animals, sitting targets …and using firearms to do so.

      Name the land-owners and companies who provide this sort of activity and who make money out of it. Get into their financial affairs and let the public see how much they make out of it. Get their faces out there! Get out there the faces of those who make use of such “leisure” activities so that their neighbours see them too.

      1. John B Dick says:

        LVT is all you need

    2. Diadhaire says:

      Willie, while the balance of your comment has merit, the ” people like this piece of shit like to kill and would no doubt kill humans too given half a chance.” is an an extreme reach. Really?

      1. Willie says:

        Killing an innocent and defenceless creature for oleasure and then posing with it’s corpse displays the basest of thinking.

        Psychologists will tell you that many a serial killer started initially by maiming, torturing and killing animals.

        Killing for fun is her pleasure. That’s what makes shit like her tick.

        Why are you defending her?

  4. Josef Ó Luain says:

    There are too many influential forelock-tugging, tweed fetishists at the highest levels of the SNP for anything remotely radical to be done about this.

  5. Cathy says:

    Who owns our country?…definitely not the Scots. Regardless of what the natives think practices by other demented nations continue to think that this is a playground for them.That other wee fat wumman up at the palace seems to have started it …of course you can blame John Brown for not ‘accidentally’ knocking her aff her pony.
    An excellent article but a tad depressing..let’s hope the SNP government get a move on and protect our great wildlife from nutcases.

  6. Tom Parkhill says:

    Around 35 years ago I had a girlfriend who was very into horses and hunting. She insisted that I come along to a hunt (somewhere near Cambridge) to see that it wasn’t cruel to the foxes. In fact, the hunt never sniffed a fox, but what it left me with was a real unease about what hunting does to people, rather than just what it does to animals. This was the class system incarnate. There were the toffs, and the rest of us – some of them very rich people on horses – who scuttled around just so pleased that we might be associated with the toffs, and their traditions, and sherry, and grace.

    I now live in an area in Italy which is overrun by boar. 40 years ago there were no boar, but once a few arrived they were encouraged by those who wanted to hunt, and deliberately cross-bred with domestic pigs. The boar we have now are very big, and not afraid of people. There are a couple of groups of hunters who pick off the boar every Wednesday and Sunday in the winter. Great fun for them. But boar can cause huge damage. We have spend over €4000 fencing our land against the boar, using the cheapest materials available. Those who work the land as a day job – and there are several hundred in the valley – will have spent much more. We are certainly looking at approaching a million euros in fencing in our valley, just to allow some people to hunt. But we are expected to be grateful that they are killing the boar.

    A month ago the hunt shot and killed a 19 year-old in our village, in the semi-darkness they thought he was a boar. In fact, the poor young lad was at fault – he wasn’t officially part of the hunt, so he took a shotgun and followed the hunt, God knows what for. He’d bought into the way of thinking and wanted to be close to it.

    If hunting is to take place at all, then I think we should accept that it is not, and should not be, a sport, a pastime, or a divertimento. But really, I don’t have any answers.

    1. Dee Graham says:

      What a sad sad state of affairs. Reminds me of the many accidental killings in the French Alps caused by groups of hunters

  7. Eleanor Ferguson says:

    I can never understand what people get out of killing things. One minute there is some animal full of life and minding its own business, the next it is a bloody heap on the ground. Fun? I think not. Yet it’s reported that Prince William’s son, who is only five, has been taken to watch his father blast game birds out of the sky. To me that is child cruelty. When I think how sensitive I was at that age,it would have have been for me.

  8. Gavin says:

    “hyper-commercialised blood-lust that thrives on destroying the natural.”
    – good description of all animal farming and fishing.
    It must all be stopped.

    1. Bill says:

      Agreed. The problem is pervasive and lies in the view that the Earth and everything in it belongs to us. Daniel Quinn’s books go into this in some detail. The pain and suffering caused by hunters is nothing compared to the pain and suffering that goes into putting chicken or salmon on your dinner plate.

  9. w.b. robertson says:

    meanwhile today we learn that millions in Scottish govt grant money is heading to Orkneys …to eliminate stoats. presumably no one among the ranks of the righteous objects to this – since the toffs have not yet turned to hunting these wee beasties!

    1. Legerwood says:

      The money is not coming from the Scottish Government it is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£2.6 million and the EU Life fund (£3.6 million) not the Scottish Government

  10. Roland Stiven says:

    While I hold no torch for trophy hunting or indeed sport hunting, I do recognise the importance of controlling deer numbers- and boar etc in the Mediterranean. I also am not sure (legality aside) whether shooting a domestic or feral animal in their habitat Is somehow more horrid than driving them onto a lorry, herding them through a slaughterhouse and electrocuting them and slicing their throats etc.

  11. SleepingDog says:

    To be fair, in the USA livestock is pretty dangerous, and probably the heralds of the post-antibiotic apocalypse which will send superbugs to consume us all. So probably best to quarantine USAmericans especially those who have come into close contact with animals, or who show signs of derangement or sickness.

  12. Steve says:

    That particular picture of the deer shows two bullet holes in an area of the animal which would not have killed it outright. It would most certainly have suffered because of two very poor shots well away from the front chest at the shoulders, which is the recognised part of the animal to dispatch it humanely. It is grotesque and largely a blood sport enjoyed by many from outside Scotland. Indeed lots of money changes hands for this ‘fun’. Not fun for most of Scotland to know it goes on in an organised way. Yes, Land reform is required and is indeed on its way, against severe opposition. Those who own the land are as rich as Scotland is or even richer than our meagre budget, so progress is slow. The downside is that the whole industry, for it is that, employs many in Scotland, not least of which are those who attend to accommodating rich adventurers who want to kill things. Distasteful maybe, but lives are sustained by this industry, not counting those who make vast profits from estates for leaving land fallow. That, I suppose will stop with Brexit, if it ever gets there but the cruelty will still go on until we press our politicians to put a stop to it. The worst of recent killings is how anyone would think that sheep or goats are a good hunting choice or in any way a heroic deed or challenge to bring one down. Largely domestic animals, who recognise humans as friendly to them. It is as hard as visiting your supermarket and picking parts of meat from the shelf.

  13. Willie Wallace says:

    We photographed a lovely ram on Islay, today. It happily stood and watched us watching it, from 5 metres away, over a fence. I could have thrown a book at it and hit it, so no need fora high powered rifle! We saw Heelan coos and deer and a huge pod of dolphins in Saligo Bay, countless sheep eating grass and 20,000 barnacle geese and a LOT of Hooper swans. No goats and no American hunters, though.

  14. MBC says:

    Isn’t it funny she seems to want to be known as a ‘huntress’ when actresses want to be ‘actors’.

  15. Richard Easson says:

    No mention seems to have been given on whose estate this took place or who runs the travel/hunting company that was involved. Funny that.

  16. Mathew says:

    Mike – I wonder how the damage done to the natural world by hunters compares to the damage done by the 1,000,000 new humans born every 4-5 days?

    1. Mathew says:

      Hang on it’s even worse than that. The above number is rate of growth – so births minus deaths over a period. A million every 4 or 5 days or 83 million annually. Clearly it’s preposterous to imagine that this does not fuck the biosphere.
      Do we act or just bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening?

    2. Mathew says:

      Sorry that figure above is rate of population growth- so it’s even worse. Do we act on this or stick our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening.

      1. Mathew says:

        My first reply to myself above didn’t appear so I added another.
        Today 30/10/18 in the Guardian a major report by WWF says there has been a 60% fall in numbers of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970.
        ‘it finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life’

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Mathew, indeed, where are the self-limits of our species?

  17. L Hendry says:

    Fine to complain if you are veggie or vegan but meat eaters have no case to make. The answer is to reintroduce large carnivores not to bleat about class division. Will Scotland ban people from saving up for a cruise next as that’s divisive coz many people can’t go on one?
    Some ordinary people like to hunt and/or fish. Its a hobby like golf. People spend loads of money on their hobby be it politics or golf. Better than having an alcohol or gambling habit. Best if hunters keep the photos off Social Media though from now on.
    Will the meat in the supermarket all be covered up next? Take some photos inside an abattoir if you need a reason for outrage.
    When all the Scottish landowners’ lands are sold to the local communities some community will probably decide to allow trophy hunting as the easiest way to offset their Council Tax.

  18. Graham Ennis says:

    The key thing is the pathetic and cowardly behavior of the Scottish Government. The SNP has been captured by the big landowners and oligarchs. Its that simple. The top leadership of the SNP have essentially been absorbed into the Scottish establishment, and have become, in fact, the establishment. Too many compromises have been made. They now allow racial killings by Police Scotland, and do nothing. Plus many other things. But land and eco are the core of where their reall attitude can be seen. They are easily scared off by clever lawyers, and will do nothing if they can. The Lockerbie scandal is a prime example. They know the truth about that, and certain Americans should have been accused. but you will never see that kind of justice from the SNP. They are now an upper middle class political machine, whose ordinary membership are used. It has been infected with thee disease that Michael Moore has exposed in his latest film about the democratic party. The SNP will not do anything radical, now, about the Oligarchs. I think it is time for grass roots direcct action against the hunting and eco-destruction of Scotland. But that will not happen either, of course. Sigh. It could have been so different.

  19. Graeme Purves says:

    Are the high-powered rifles used by American trophy hunters brought into Scotland on ordinary passenger flights? If so, what safety and security measures are taken by the airlines and at our airports?

  20. Frank says:

    Yah boo to most of you. The only thing wrong with hunting is that it is the stolen prerogative of the rich. Along with fishing it needs to be democratised so that we can all participate if we so desire.

    Land reform has been mentioned. At the present time that is a slow and expensive process and I doubt if much will have been achieved by the end of the century. The big attraction of Highland Estates is the exclusive sporting rights. Bringing sporting rights into public ownership would act as a disincentive to ownership of the estate and along with a few other measures, such as an end to all subsidies for such estates, would encourage a sell off and reduce the price to the use value of the bare land.

    The Scottish government is supposedly committed to re-foresting Scotland and that is something Scotland certainly needs. But planting forests, and especially deciduous forests, is incompatible with overstocking of deer so the excess need to be killed (I hate that phoney word “culled”) A friend who goes fishing in Perthshire several times a year told be that he had noticed the absence of deer. Usually there are lots to be seen, both red and roe but now nothing. He asked a local why. The answer was that trees were being planted and SNH had shot all the deer, even using a helicopter to do so. The local was asked what had been done with the carcases of the deer. Apparently a bulldozer had dug a large pit and the carcases had been buried. The powers that be would pay people to destroy good meat rather than let the hoi polloi get their hands on it.

    Such is the overpopulation of deer in Scotland that they cause accidents. According to SNH motor vehicle accidents involving deer cause around nine thousand accidents a year with 65 injuries. The fact is that the deer population needs to be reduced and so the choice appears to be hunting by individuals, mass slaughter by SNH or perhaps poison them as the did in NZ at one point.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Frank, maybe it’s the vehicles who are primarily causing the accidents? Even helicopters, y’know.

  21. John B Dick says:

    LVT and a regular review of classification and rates will sort this without specific legislation being necessary.

  22. DK says:

    I guess all of Scotland is vegan. Also, she is from Canada not the US. It’s kind of like saying Scotland is England.

    1. Not sure how her being Canadian makes a difference to any of the substance of the article but very happy always to correct any inaccuracies.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.