About Me

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Paul McCarney

Reflections on Hunting and Conservation

In a collection of essays called The Heart of the Game, the writer Thomas McGuane recounts an imaginary exchange between a hunter and a non-hunter. The exchange goes something like this,

“What did a deer ever do to you?”
“Why should they die for you? Would you die for the deer?”

I’ll hold off on revealing the hunter’s final response for a moment. This exchange could just as easily be an internal conversation within a hunter’s imagination. It’s part of a deeply personal, ethically loaded set of questions that I suspect many hunters have asked themselves: how do I feel about taking the life of an animal? How do I know it’s right? How does it affect the world beyond me?

This blog is a space to discuss questions related to hunting and conservation and reflect on my experiences with these topics.

Hunting has changed my life and my perspective on the world. These discussions are an expression of how hunting has affected my understanding of my role and place in the natural world. My goal is to engage with both the complexities surrounding hunting and conservation and the simplicity in enjoying the out of doors.

My perspective on these issues has been shaped by a wide variety of experiences and people. I’ve spent over 15 years backcountry camping on foot and from a canoe, in all four seasons, throughout Ontario, Canada. I’ve been hunting for about seven years, and have put most of my energy into bowhunting. I’ve completed postsecondary programs in social science and ecology. I’m currently completing my PhD in Environmental Studies, with a focus on the social and ecological dimensions of Arctic marine wildlife research and management.

To summarize, I’ll simply rely on the hunter’s final response in Thomas McGuane’s imaginary conversation, which encapsulates what being a hunter and conservationist means to me,

“Why should they die for you? Would you die for the deer?”
“If it came to that.”

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3 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hey Paul,
    I just came across your blog, amazing stuff.
    I’m currently in Lindsay,Ontario. We share quite a few concepts and beliefs when it comes to ethics of hunting and conservation.
    Feel free to send me an email, I’d love to meet up and talk shop.

    1. Thanks Pamela. It’s something I’ve thought about in the various fields I’ve worked in and I think it’s going to be increasingly important to identify these common grounds as we continue to deal with the social and environmental pressures we’re seeing.

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