The age old question (not that one)

As a keen countryman and pursuer of all that flyeth over moors; the old chestnut of shooting has been taxing the old grey cells. Nearly every year chaps and the occasional lady stride manfully (or womanfully) onto field and moorland to kill as many game birds as permitted or available. These birds have been invariably bred and reared for the purpose and live I suppose fairly happy if brief lives trotting about in the open.
I struggle with the concept that this is cruel.
1. Birds are on the whole stupid. Most activities they partake in are essential to their survival  and no more.
2. These birds would not exist if someone had not reared them from mere specks in mater and pater’s vacant eyes.
3. I am more comfortable with shooting a bird that has lived wild (albeit briefly) than eating birds caged in concentration camps very briefly and fed super booster to accelerate their growth.
I do however not use the argument that ‘because its traditional’ as any defence. Like many in the officers mess, my school days were filled with arcane rituals designed to humiliate and break a young gentleman (buffing the head boys seat or lollypopping on St Mungo’s day). Thankfully many of these have been got rid of and here her I say. We still would be putting minor offenders in stocks or transporting offenders to the colonies for transgressions had tradition not been questioned or improved upon. I would not be able to write these words has I shunned the technology for quill and parchment.
But the get to the point Giles I hear you say. well the point of the argument. We are the only species I am aware of that can rear another for the privilege of then shooting for sport. That surely should be applauded. I do not see prides of Lion in the savannah raising herds of wildebeest in order that they would have a few to bag and one for the pot (not that they could use a pot; opposing thumbs and all that). You don’t see blue whale intensively farming krill to ensure plentiful gulps for their tucker.
We as humans have the capacity to raise and control other life forms like no other species. Other animals tend to just eat what they need. I shared a dorm with a large boy called Willoughby minor at school. He would eat other boys provisions and his waist showed for it. He was subsequently run down by a no 58 bus as he was too large to flee the oncoming vehicle. He had the guile to nick out tuck but not the grace to skip out of the path of an oncoming bus.
In short maybe we should leave the breeding up to nature and make the sport that bit more of a challenge. Maybe we should look at our fellow species and learn from them. Eat what you need but don’t be too greedy.  
When we come to stride, fully armed onto the moors, we will be satisfied that any bird has been its own raising and scarcity increases the achievement of bagging a brace. The keepers could stick to managing the land rather than managing the birds.


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