So what you're asking is for hunters to confirm your preconceived notions by telling you what you want to hear? I believe you just showed your "hole card", and it isn't enough.
I respect your conviction to your own, personal ethic. I wouldn't presume to try to define it for you, nor would I ask you to abandon it in favor of what I believe to be right. I would, however, ask the same respect of you. You know nothing about what may lie in the hearts and minds of hunters, and it's arrogant egotism to profess otherwise.
And with that, I submit that we are at impasse. You will not find the answer you're looking for here, because that answer does not exist outside of your own mind.
I could spend days and millions of words on here trying to offer explanations, Mary, but my guess is that you'd reject them all. It's not that you don't understand. It's that you won't. And you don't have to. I think that's the critical piece of the whole, isn't it? There is no reason for you to change your mind and accept any of these "hollow" explanations of why we hunt, or why we think it's OK to do so.
So I'll spare you the esoterica, except to say this. Some of us don't buy into the anthropocentric notion that we belong outside of nature, as passive observers. We choose to be participants.
And no, it's not about "need". Almost nothing we do as modern humans is about "need". Basing any argument on whether or not we "need" something is a non-starter. I don't NEED to hunt, any more than you NEED to be questioning (or projecting) my motivation for doing so. See how that works?
Unlike people, Mary, those animals live their lives with the deep realization that every moment is a moment stolen from certain death. As prey animals, this is their reality. Whether that death comes from a stealthy arrow, a distant bullet, the teeth and claws of a predator, or a long and vicious cold winter... it is sure and implacable.
What you comprehend is really irrelevant. It doesn't have to make sense to you. It's just nature.
Mary, I think your perspective is valid... for you. In fact, your own words encapsulate the whole point here. "To kill one [big game animal] would completely shatter and spoil my enjoyment of this experience."
You speak of YOUR enjoyment because you cannot speak for the emotions of the hypothetical hunter in the photo.
You must realize, of course, that the only sensibility defied by the hunter's photo is your own. Your interpretation of what you see in that photo is completely colored by your personal bias... and why shouldn't it be? To appreciate, or even to accept the hunter's perspective would fly in the face of your own moral standard. You would have to alter your personal values and that's a very difficult thing to do... especially since your reward for making the effort would be completely nebulous.
We all judge. We're all subject to our prejudices and preconceptions. But I think there's value in the awareness that doing so is completely one-sided. Your comment illustrates this perfectly. To you, it's unimportant what the photo means to the hunter. It's only important what it means to you. But that doesn't invalidate the other person. It only divides.
A tricky topic, Tovar, but I think you addressed it as well as it can be addressed. There will always be that gulf between perception and knowledge, and attitudes toward the "grip and grin" photos are only one example.
It's the nature of understanding, maybe... we define what we see through our own bias, and it's a question of how much value we find in expending the energy to challenge that bias. Conservation of energy and all that...
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