From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR
A while back, after a run-in with a Brussels sprout, I started a list of ways I won’t buy the farm.
Choking on a Brussels spout is No. 1. Solid No. 1. Followed by these:
Hot-air balloon accident (unless one falls on me);
Getting trampled in a soccer riot; or,
Going to sleep or texting while I’m driving. Please pull over. Driving’s hard enough as it is.
A current situation of which I’ve become aware made it easy to add another item to the list: I won’t get killed in a big-game (or small game) safari hunting accident. If I’m in Botswana or Kenya, it’ll be to help somebody build a house or dig a sewerage ditch or to become a weather forecaster, which has to be the easiest job in all of Africa, outside of short-pants salesman.
Cousin Other (say it “OH-thur”) recently texted me play-by-play on his north Louisiana outdoorsman friend’s South Africa safari. It is not my cup of Mountain Dew, but to each his own.
“He’s hunted down various this-a-lopes and that-a-beasts and whatnot,” Other typed.
OK. Standard. I’ve seen the cable TV shows where the herds of dark livestock cover the African plain like a gigantic, slow-moving shadow. Who’ll miss one wildebeest?
But it’s Other’s next line that got me.
“Tomorrow,” he typed, “he’s going after a giraffe.”
“To kill?” I typed back. “Tell me it’s to bring home as a pet.”
It wasn’t to bring home as a pet. “I can’t see the sport either,” Other said. “Like targeting some zoo occupant.”
I remember a picture Other sent last October, of his granddaughter at the State Fair, feeding a giraffe a carrot. I viewed it again, looking for tell-tale signs of danger from the giraffe. Saw none. He looked fierce as a pillowcase.
The signs posted on the fence read “Carrots Only” and “Please Don’t Feed Animals From Your Mouth.” A giraffe would fit right in with kindergarteners at show-and-tell.
“Is he going to strap it to the hood, like a deer?” I asked Other. “Get it stuffed? Does he have a big vaulted ceiling in his den? Why kill a giraffe?”
A couple of days went by until Other texted this. “Got a report from Africa. He killed more zoo animals but missed a chance at a giraffe. He said they can duck and move fast as lightning.”
My prayers were being answered. Until a couple more days later.
“African update,” the text read. “Long Neck down.”
He sent me a picture of the giraffe and our friend, which I should not have looked at. And I shouldn’t have looked at the one of the shot zebra, which is basically a pony with stripes. Hurt me. These hunts are entirely legal and I’m sure safaris are a business that aids conservation, but shooting a giraffe or zebra – and hundreds do, more power to them – seems like shooting a stuffed animal.
Parts are being processed and hides and heads will make their way back here. No giraffe jerky though: no edible parts can leave Africa.
Again, I eat meat most every day. We are a pro-meat league, for sure. These days, somebody does the killing for me so I can eat hamburgers and fish and chicken. I don’t want to be the guy called on to thin out the herd. Better to be The Thinner of The Herd than The Thinnee, but count me out of the hunt for either role.
Giraffes and lions and zebras, as long as they stay on the plains of Africa, are safe from me. The only way I’d kill a giraffe is if I feed him too many carrots.