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Are Trophy Hunters Serial Killers?

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Body parts as souvenirs

Body parts as souvenirs

Though I've been a vegetarian for 21 years, that doesn't mean I can't understand why people enjoy eating animals. After all, I was raised eating them, too. At 19 I made a personal decision to stop, though I realize eating flesh is still the norm, and to each his/her own. Do what you want.

Some people hunt for food, and that's okay with me as long as it's done humanely. I know that around here, the deer population, for example, is too high. If they're not shot, they'll starve to death, and so hunting takes the place of their natural predators (which we've killed off.)

One thing I've never understood, however, is trophy hunting: hunting in order to mount body parts to your wall to "show off"--well, I'm not sure what. Your "courage"? "Skill"?

I'd always considered it strange and grotesque, but after reading Gareth Patterson's essay, "Is Trophy Hunting A Form Of Serial Killing?" I realized he'd hit on exactly why it's always creeped me out.

Similarities Between Trophy Hunters & Serial Killers

First off, I should make the distinction between these two terms.

Serial killers kill humans; trophy hunters kill any animals other than humans.

Keeping heads as trophies

Keeping heads as trophies

  • Compelled to keep a trophy souvenir from their victims
  • The killing is addictive and leads to more killings
  • They seek fame, attention, and notoriety
  • The kills are premeditated (who, what, where, how)
  • The killing gives a surge of adrenalin ("thrill kill")
  • Stalking the victim gives a feeling of excitement
  • Killing becomes a compulsion (addiction)
  • The killing is seen as a "sport" or "game"
  • There's a down time ("cooling off" period) between killings
  • Gives the killer a feeling of power, dominance, and control over their victim
  • They are titillated by "the hunt" and fantasize about the kill
  • Many document their kills via photos and/or videos to gratify themselves later
Power, dominance, and control

Power, dominance, and control

What Do You Think?

Comment Below

Have you ever thought about this before? Does it make sense to you, or do you think the similarities are too generalistic?

Do you completely separate humans and animals in your mind, or are you aware that killing is killing is killing, no matter who it is?

Do you know any trophy hunters, or are you one yourself? Do these descriptions describe them or yourself?

What do you think?


More Information

"Is Trophy Hunting A Form Of Serial Killing?" -- Essay by Gareth Patterson

"Trophy Hunters = Serial Killers?" -- Essay by Doris Lin

Scroll to Continue

Trophy Hunting -- On Wikipedia

Serial Killer -- On Wikipedia

The killing is seen as a "sport" or "game"

The killing is seen as a "sport" or "game"

© 2011 Kate P


Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on September 16, 2015:

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments. After all, we can't all agree on everything and it's good to see this from different perspectives.

Sanxuary on August 15, 2013:

You found similarities in common but the motivation and goals are a long ways apart. You never read much about serial killers who were big game hunters trophy hunting. Oddly most people who love hunting are seldom into collecting trophies, unless it is something pretty rare. I wonder what the comparisons would be for anyone who works in a morgue, in medicine, the military and the list could go on. Most Police Officers would make you sick when they talk off line about a past crime they encountered or stopping someone extremely evil. Its more a defense mechanism that helps them to forget how bad something really was. Yet people in the medical profession see things a lot of us would never want to see and actually love seeing these things every day.

Tanner on December 19, 2012:

Killing for trophy is not something that should be compaired to serial killers lol that's a large stretch! Humans and animals are much different. I trophy hunt but also eat the meat..

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on December 30, 2011:

Thanks to all for the amazing comments and stories! I won't get into the God argument here, but if you're interested, I've written an entire hub on God and vegetarianism.

Buying meat in the store is pretty different from killing the animal yourself--much more sanitized. That said, killing for gratification is a little nuts.

pepproducts from Pakistan on December 28, 2011:

God has gifted the human being with many things and nothing in this universe seems to be useless. Every living creature or non living creature seems to be the part of system. When it comes to food God has permitted human being to hunt animals to fulfill their food needs.

I remember some statement may be I can provide you with the reference later for this statement that birds and animals feel pleasure when they are hunt and eaten by animals because every thing in this universe is created for human being named as best creature of this universe.

There are also some restrictions that don't hunt the animals without any reason, but if you need food then hunt them and use them.

The concept behind the vegetarian that it seems to be hurting killing animals for food is not fine because God has gifted these animals and birds for human being to use them for food purpose and animals feel pleasure that they are used by human being.

It seems to be odd that animals are killed and they feel pleasure is not it? Let us take a look at bee with a natural habit that collecting juice from flowers and then using it for honey. It is natural for bee and same with animals and birds, it is natural for them because they are gifted with same kind of nature by God.

So cheer up, use animals and birds for food purpose, they feel happy when you use them.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on December 28, 2011:

This is a wonderful hub. I am a person who does eat meat, but has never shot, killed, even skinned an animal. Don't know what I would do if it needed to be done in order for me to eat it. Like farmers who eat their own chikens. They take the feathers off. Buying at the store is easy. Hunting an animal would be very hard.

Xavier Nathan from Isle of Man on December 28, 2011:

When a person buys meat in a store it is cut up and packaged in a way that separates it from what it is actually a part of, which is, an animal that has been killed. Most people who eat meat would not be able to kill an animal but it is this ability to separate what they are eating from the reality of what it entails that allows them to do it. It is a similar situation when a person kills another. The victim is not seen as a person. It is the ability to separate and make real that which is unreal that allows certain people to kill and their justification for doing so will will seem very real and plausible to the killer.

A great hub that I am sure will generate some great debate and make people think. Thank you.

Larry Fields from Northern California on December 27, 2011:

Rated up and interesting.

Although Omnivore Larry is also creeped out by the thought of trophy hunting, I see more of a continuum, rather than a dichotomy of civilized person on the one hand, vs thrill killers on the other.

Psychologist Robert Hare has made a career out of the study of sociopaths. (I've read his earlier book, Without Conscience.) Hare has devised a test, called the Psychopathy Checklist. And it gives a numerical score on that continuum. I would not be surprised if trophy hunters scored a bit 'higher' (if that's the right word) than average on the psychopathy continuum.

The big question you raise in your hub reminds me of a ballot measure that we Californians voted on 15 or 20 years ago. It was a proposal to outlaw the (trophy) hunting of mountain lions.

For me, the issue was humane killing. Typically, hunting dogs follow a cougar's scent, chase he big cat, and tree it. Then the mighty hunter shoots it with a .22, rather than with a deer rifle. That way, there's less damage to the pelt. The cougar slowly bleeds to death, while the dogs are barking their heads off. That's not a humane kill, in my book.

If two conditions are satisfied, I think that cougar hunting could be justified. First if the hunter is required to use a firearm that's legal for the taking of deer. Second if the hunting is restricted to areas near small towns, where mountain lions are more likely to kill people and their pets.

Several years ago, in the Northern Sierra foothills, East of where I live, a woman was killed by a mountain lion, while she was out running by herself. (That's risky behavior on two counts.)

A well-crafted law could decrease the number of similar tragedies in the future, as well as ensuring that mountain lion hunts are reasonably humane. I'm slightly ticked off that we voters weren't given that option.

The ballot measure was a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down on mountain lion hunting by the general public. I voted against the cougar hunting, but I can also understand how someone could vote for it, in good conscience.

I'm sure that there was a huge "Mountain lions are cute and cuddly" vote from environmental extremists. Because we have a lot of wilderness areas--which trophy hunters seldom visit--in California, the cougar was never in danger of local extinction here.

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