Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Some years ago, I read a story in the local paper about how 11 moose were killed in Colorado that hunting season by hunters who thought they were elk or deer. I recall being outraged – big surprise – at the fact that hunters could be so haphazard as to shoot the wrong species. It’s always been my policy that if you’re going to kill something, you should at least do it the courtesy of knowing what it looks like.
It’s also long been my policy that if you’re going to kill something, you should eat it, but I might have to make some clarifications to said policy in light of the hunting season Italy has had for the last month. Not that serving this season’s bounty in an Alfredo sauce over fettuccine wouldn’t probably taste good; it’s just that, well …
A report out of Rome last week bore the tragic news that thus far 13 people have been accidentally shot and killed and another 33 wounded, since hunting season opened in Italy last month. Thirteen! Are you kidding me? And I thought those Colorado hunters were stupid for mistaking moose for elk.
Apparently, the law in Italy allows hunters to roam across private land and discharge firearms within 150 meters of a house. That sounds a little close to me, but I don’t think it would be such a big problem if Italian hunters at least had good eyesight. They might, but with an average reported age of between 65 and 78 years, it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t.
Many in Italy have called for an outright ban on hunting, but pro-hunting groups have pointed out the need to control populations of wild boar. I don’t know what it says about Italians that 46 of them have been mistaken for boar, but it’s not flattering.
The news story I read made it seem as if all the killings were being considered accidents, but that sounds a little fishy to me. Thirteen is a ridiculously high number, and we are talking about Italy here. After pizza and pasta, what is the one thing Italy is most famous for?
Exactly: the Mafia. What are the odds that none of those 13 people was whacked by the mob? Think about it: If you were in the Mafia and needed to kill someone, and you could walk around on private property and shoot people and call it an accident because you had a hunting license, you’d be a fool not to.
Mafia-related or not, the killings unfortunately serve to perpetuate a stereotype of hunters that was aptly summed up by Walter Caporale, the head of animal-rights group Animalisti Italiani Onlus.
“They shoot because something moves,” he said.
Sadly, that is a legitimate concern with lots of hunters – not just Dick Cheney.
Hunters love to think of themselves as expert marksmen and stealthy trackers, blending into their surroundings with their full-body camouflage and luring game their way with practiced use of female-deer urine and antler-rattling. I’m sure some hunters out there are exactly that way, but let’s be honest: A whole lot of hunters aren’t.
Most hunters, in my experience encountering them in the field, are out to drink some beers and shoot some guns with their buddies. If they get a deer, it’s kind of just icing on the cake. And that’s fine as long as they go far enough away from everyone else that the only people they can shoot when they’re drunk are one another.
Mind you, that does not, by any means, excuse hunters from having to learn and obey all applicable safety rules regarding the use of firearms. Nor does it give them free rein to shoot anything that moves. You should never accidentally shoot anything. I don’t care of it’s a road sign, a moose or an Italian. If you’re going to shoot it, at least do it on purpose.
As for Italy, this is truly a tragedy and blah, blah, blah. Let’s just hope common sense prevails over there before next hunting season rolls around and a pack of armed geezers is loosed to ravage the countryside once again.
In conclusion, if you’re planning on going to Italy, you should. Just don’t go during hunting season. And if you’re planning on coming to Colorado, you might as well leave the moose costume at home. Evidently it won’t keep you safe from elk hunters the way it used to.
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